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23 October, 2020 09:31:02 PM
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Impact of COVID-19 on Bangladeshi migrants and policy implications

Many Gulf countries including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have suspended many of their construction projects, which are a leading source of remittance for Bangladesh
Abu Bakar Muhammad Sadik
Impact of COVID-19 on Bangladeshi migrants and policy implications

Migrant workers play a significant role in the economy of Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s source of foreign currency greatly depends on their remittance. In 2019, remittance earning was the second largest foreign currency source, around USD18 Billion. Every year approximately USD 15 billion of this remittance is directly contributed to the socio-economic development of Bangladesh. These migrant workers and their dependents are now in economic difficulties due to the dire consequences of COVID-19.

COVID-19 has posed unprecedented threat to the global economy. The world is now facing the worst financial crisis in human history. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), this financial crisis can cause prolonged unemployment. About 25 million people are at risk of being unemployed, mentioned the International Labor Organization (ILO). It is also affecting migrants of Bangladesh.

Many Gulf countries including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have suspended many of their construction projects, which are a leading source of remittance for Bangladesh. Due to the global lockdown, the KSA authorities have decided to cut wages of about 25 to 50%, and many workers are laid-off. According to the New York Times, this cut-off of wages and workers will make bulk unemployment.

At least 400,000 workers returned before borders closed. Many migrants have lost their youth and sacrificed a happy family life after spending 15-20 years abroad. Their sudden return intensifies their critical situation as 86% returnee migrants lack an income source. Besides, around 30 million people depend on these migrant workers. Loss of this remittance means these vast people will face different social and health issues such as unemployment, food and nutrition insecurity, child labour, etc.

Our government has undertaken different initiatives to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on these migrant workers. Despite these initiatives, migrant workers are still at risk. To minimze the risk, the following strategies can be taken-

  • The government should continue the practice of giving 2% money incentives on inflow remittances of USD 1500.
  • Illegal migration should be stopped through different legal and administrative measures. Besides, necessary initiatives can be taken to maximize the number of legal migrants.
  • The government should create enough employment for migrant returnees.
  • Bangladesh should take necessary diplomatic steps to secure migrant workers’ interests in host countries.

The governmnet of Bangladesh has to take long-term plans to protect their migrants abroad, so Bangladesh can sustain its foreign reserve and address the economic shock in the future.

The writer is a final year student of Economics from Noakhali Science and Technology University. Email: [email protected]

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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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