Bangladesh, Malaysia to review MoU to export manpower to reduce expenses

The MoU, signed in 2021, was heavily criticised by the recruiting agencies and other stakeholders in Bangladesh for allowing only 25 agencies to send workers

Published : 5 Feb 2023, 05:12 PM
Updated : 5 Feb 2023, 05:12 PM

Delegations representing the governments of Bangladesh and Malaysia will soon sit to review an earlier memorandum of understanding or MoU between the two countries to export workforces from Bangladesh to the Southeast Asian archipelago.

The visiting Malaysian Home Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, at a joint press briefing after his scheduled meeting with Bangladesh Expatriates' Welfare Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmed on Sunday, said the main focus of the review would be reducing the workers’ expenses for migration purposes.

The senior Malaysian minister is on a two-day visit to Dhaka, which kicked off on Saturday, to strengthen economic ties and cooperation between the two nations surrounding migrant labour laws, which have put a strain on both Bangladeshi workers and the Malaysian economy in recent years.

“We seek to reduce the cost of bringing workers over from Bangladesh. Soon, a senior delegation will sit with their Bangladesh counterpart to find if the agreed MoU needs to be amended,” Saifuddin said.

At the briefing, Imran indicated that the meeting of the Joint Working Group could take place this month.

Bangladesh signed the landmark MoU with Malaysia in December 2021 to open doors for sending workers there using legal channels.

At the time, stakeholders in the government said they expected recruitment agencies in Malaysia would bear the cost of recruitment, airfare, housing, drawing up employment contracts, and repatriation, while the respective employers would bear the cost of immigration fees, visa fees, health checkup, insurance, COVID19 tests, and quarantine.

Minister Imran, at the time, told the media that he was confident that the migration costs for the workers interested in moving to Malaysia for work would be minimal.

However, the MoU was heavily criticised by the recruiting agencies and other stakeholders in Bangladesh for allowing only 25 agencies to send workers.

The agencies have been allegedly charging at least Tk 250,000 to Tk 300,000 from each prospective Bangladesh worker as migration expenses.

"Changes in the MoU for the benefit of workers in Malaysia and reduction of immigration costs, among other things, were discussed in the meeting," minister Imran said.

"Everything related to our interests was discussed. We must remember that this government [in Malaysia] is a new government. Whatever we talked about with the previous government, changes are inevitable now."

Malaysian minister Saifuddin also assured the Bangladesh government that his government would speed up the hiring process.

“Our [Malaysian government] objectives are simple. Fulfil the workforce's needs, reduce costs, and protect the integrity of expatriate workers. We are ready to make changes if the current system is not meeting the objectives,” he said.

Saifuddin also highlighted the success of the “recalibration programme”, which started on Jan 27, claiming that 55 percent of the legalised workers were workers of Bangladeshi nationalities.

According to Bangladesh government data, Around 65,000 Bangladeshi workers have migrated to Malaysia for work after the signing MoU in 2021.