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23 March, 2018 12:06:23 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 23 March, 2018 09:50:14 AM
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Saudi job policy to affect Bangladeshi workers

RAFIQUL ISLAM AZAD
Saudi job policy to affect Bangladeshi workers

A large number of Bangladeshi workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are likely to lose their jobs with the implementation of "Saudiaisation policy", say sources in the expatriate welfare and overseas employment ministry. The new move of the Saudi authorities has created a sense of frustration and uncertainty among expats, they observe. The ministry, however, has no data on how many Bangladeshi workers may have to return home because of the new policy.

Migration experts suggest that the government should evaluate the possible risks and opportunities to deal with the changed situation.

Dr Nomita Halder, secretary to the expatriate welfare and overseas employment ministry, admitted that some Bangladeshi workers would have to return home due to the new policy. “Some workers will have to come back home as the Saudi government is going to recruit its own people in 12 types of work,” she said.

She, however, expressed optimism that Bangladesh would be able to deal with the situation with the expansion of labour markets in other areas and other destinations.

She said her ministry has had meetings with the joint technical committee and economic affairs committee with Saudi Arabia and raised various issues concerning Bangladeshi workers’ interest. The Bangladesh ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Golam Moshi, said the move towards Saudiaisation is a matter of concern as many Bangladeshi workers may lose their jobs because of it.

He mentioned that the Saudi government has opened up the fisheries sector for Bangladeshi workers—a move that could help rehabilitate the affected workers. He, however, said the new Saudi policy could affect about two lakh Bangladeshi workers and everyone of them cannot be accommodated in the fisheries sector.

According to Moshi, there are now around 2.1 million Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi minister for labour and social development recently issued a ministerial decision, reserving 12 types of occupations for Saudis only. The decision will come into effect from the next Hijri year. These work areas are: watch shops, optical stores, medical equipment stores, electrical and electronics shops, outlets selling car spare parts, building material shops, and outlets selling all types of carpets. The outlets also include automobile and motorbike shops, shops selling home furniture and readymade office material, shops selling readymade garments, shops selling children’s clothes and men’s supplies, household utensils shops and pastry shops.

According to the new policy, Bangladeshi workers, along with other expats in Saudi Arabia, will no longer be allowed to work in the stated categories.

The Saudi government that had employed some nine million foreigners, including more than two million Bangladeshi workers, has been intensifying its efforts to boost employment opportunities for Saudi nationals under its “Vision 2030”. The kingdom has also passed several orders under the plan, including one that terminates all contracts pertaining to expatriate workers in the government and ministries within three years and another that nationalises jobs in shopping malls.

Earlier, in November 2017, the Saudi ministry of labour and development had announced that it would arrest expats found working in nationalised sectors and warned violators of deportation.

Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” includes the development of non-oil industries, supporting small and medium enterprises, increasing the participation of Saudi women in the workforce and creating a broader investment base in the country.

Migration expert Humayun Kabir said the government has to explore new areas of work in Saudi Arabia so that Bangladeshi workers could be given a new refuge in the labour market. He emphasised the need to carry out research work, keeping in mind developments in the labour market.

He also asked the ministry concerned to evaluate the possible risks and opportunities in the labour market from time to time to cope with the situation.

Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) president Benjir Ahmed said the manpower market in Saudi Arabia is likely to stumble to some extent due to the Saudiaisation policy.

He, however, mentioned that it is still too early to comment on the impact of the Saudi move as there is no data available on the number of Bangladeshi workers employed in the 12 categories of jobs now reserved for Saudi nationals.

Bangladeshi workers started working in Saudi Arabia in 1976. The kingdom now has over two million Bangladeshis, including

some 42,000 female domestic helps, making it the largest destination for Bangladeshi manpower.

SHK

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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