The government on Wednesday approved a Tk 427-crore project to rehabilitate two lakh expatriates as some five lakh Bangladeshi workers returned home losing their overseas jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the big project at an Ecnec meeting held virtually with its Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. The PM joined the meeting from Ganobhaban, while others from the NEC conference room.
Each of two lakh returnees will get orientation, counseling and then Tk 13,500 as cash incentive alongside other employment-related supports under the project.
Along with this project, a total of 10 development projects involving the overall estimated cost of Tk 2,575.42 crore got approval at the meeting.
“Today, 10 projects placed by nine ministries were approved at the meeting. Seven of these projects are new while the remaining three are revised ones,” said Planning Minister MA Mannan while briefing reporters after the meeting.
Of the total estimated cost, Tk 2,150.42 crore will come from the national exchequer while the rest of Tk 425 crore as foreign loans from the World Bank, he said.
Mannan said the Prime Minister appreciated the supportive project for employment generation in the informal sector aiming to reintegrate the migrant workers who have returned.
Hasina said the expatriates who returned home contributed a lot to the country. “Now the country will have to provide support to them.”
Under the project, some 23,500 selected returnees who are skilled in different trades will also be given support to have certificates from the recognised organisations and manage jobs at home and abroad.
The other project operations include preparation of a database of the returnee workers, making the returnees connected with financial, technical and other relevant organisations and providing support to get loan and financial assistance, and engaging them in different productive activities and small business enterprises.
The Wage Earners’ Welfare Board under the Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry will execute the project by December 2023.
The project will be implemented in 32 districts of the country. The districts are Dhaka, Tangail, Kishoreganj, Narsingdi, Munshiganj, Faridpur, Gopalganj, Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, Pabna, Bogura, Naogaon, Rajshahi, Sirajganj, Barishal, Patuakhali, Kushtia, Jashore, Khulna, Sylhet, Sunamganj, Brahmanbaria, Cumilla, Chandpur, Feni, Noakhali, Chattogram, Cox’s Bazar and Rangamati.
Of the project cost of Tk 427.30 crore, Tk 425 crore will come as loan from the World Bank, while the rest Tk 2.30 crore from the GoB fund.
State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam said some five lakh expatriates returned home due to the Covid pandemic.
The other new projects include Modernisation and expansion of the services and research facilities of the Institute of Tissue Banking and Biomaterial Research’ project at a cost of Tk 173.80 crore, Construction of 3 underpasses and Paduar Bazar intersection U-Loop on Dhaka-Chattogram National Highway project with Tk 568.93 crore, and Protection of the left bank of the Padma River on the downside of Padma Multipurpose Bridge in different places under Louhajang and Tongibari upazilas of Munshiganj project with Tk 446.12 crore.
The remaining new projects are Setting up a full-fledged child cardiology and child cardiac surgery unit in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) project with Tk 72.09 crore, Construction of Bangladesh Chancery Bhaban at Canberra in Australia project with Tk 146.87 crore, and BSCIC food processing estate in Thakurgaon project with Tk 98.61 crore.
The three revised projects are Upgrading district highways into proper standard and width (Mymensingh Zone) (1st revised) with additional cost of Tk 111.58 crore (now the cost increased to Tk 680 crore in 1st revision), District-based computer training for women (3rd revised) project with additional cost of Tk 31.82 crore (Cost now stands at Tk 118.79 crore), and Reconstruction or Replacement of Iron Bridges in the country’s southern region (1st revised) project with an additional cost of Tk 498.30 crore (Now the cost went up to Tk 2334 crore).
At the meeting, the Prime Minister directed the authorities concerned to ensure the proper height of bridges during their construction through coordination with Inland Water Transportation for keeping waterways operative, said the planning minister.