- Saudi embassy's pvt firm appointment for visa processing aggravates recruiters
- They say third party involvement will push up migration costs
- Besides, it will result in manpower export syndication to the gulf country
- Instead of the firm, recruiters propose passport submission by their association
The Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) announced that its members will not send the passports of migrant workers to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia from Sunday, protesting against the mission's appointment of a private firm to handle the visa application process.
"None of us will submit the passports until the decision of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia to submit passports through a third party is withdrawn," said Baira President Mohammad Abul Baser after an emergency meeting of the association in Dhaka on Saturday.
All the members of the association agreed to the decision, as they alleged appointing a third party to handle the visa applications will eventually spoil the labour market in the gulf country.
On 7 October, the Saudi embassy in Dhaka said it will not receive the workers' passports from the recruiting agencies directly from 15 October. Instead, the passports will have to be submitted through a private firm named "Shapla Centre".
Local recruiting agencies say they were able to submit the passports to the embassy without any fees. But the private firm will charge a fee that will ultimately push up the migration costs.
"We want the syndicate and drop box in the guise of Shapla Centre collapse," said Hasanur Rahman, owner of a recruiting agency.
Saudi Arabia is the major manpower destination for Bangladesh. Riyadh accounts for more than 32% of Bangladesh's labour export – the country's second largest forex earning source after the readymade garment sector. More than 20% of Bangladesh's remittances come from the gulf country.
In 2021, at least 4.57 lakh Bangladeshi nationals went to Saudi Arabia.
Mohammad Abul Baser said the mission's third party appointment for sourcing manpower from Bangladesh will hurt Baira, the overall labour export outlook as well.
Suspecting a conspiracy behind the embassy's move, he said, "Someone must have a motive here. Otherwise, the Saudi embassy cannot do something like this on its own."
If required, the recruiting agencies said that the passports could be submitted through the association. But they will not allow the third party in the process.
Referring to the embassy, the Baira president said, "If the passport glut causes trouble, you could leave it to us. To tackle the queues of the workers, we could set up an establishment at our own cost anywhere you prefer."
He said the association gave the proposals to the counsellor of the embassy, but did not receive any reply.
Abul Baser said they informed the foreign ministry about the issue and sought a solution, but to no avail.
"In India, a similar move by Riyadh to appoint a third party got thwarted in the wake of protests. If the Indian recruiting agencies can succeed in forcing Saudi Arabia to backtrack on the decision, why would we not be able to do so," he added.