Migrant workers are not getting services as per their contribution to the country's economy. A major portion of the aspirant migrants live in villages but they do not get any services at the upazila level and what they receive at the distinct level is not enough. So, they often get confused and fall victim to middlemen. Migration services should be made available at the union level.
The government should decentralise migration services to improve the migration sector, which will benefit both the country and its people. If services are available at the field level, migration costs for hopeful migrants will reduce and there will not be much influence of middlemen.
In the 8th 5-year plan, it has been mentioned to have a paradigm shift in the migration sector by ensuring skilled labour force supply. For this, we have to be prepared. It is not possible to prepare highly skilled workers all of a sudden and send them abroad.
No matter how much we talk about digitalisation, a lot of work is still done through the analogue system. It is not just in the immigration process; we see both digital and analogue systems are in place in activities of other ministries. Now, we are moving towards e-passport, but we cannot introduce e-signature in all government works. It is a matter of getting accustomed to the new system from the policy level to the field level.
The digitisation would ensure transparency and accountability to some extent. That is why a political will is needed from a higher level to ensure full digitisation. But the problem is from beneficiary groups who do not want to ensure transparency, they sometimes are barriers to a full-fledged digital system.
Besides, it is tough for service receivers also to use technologies as most of them are least educated. So, a gap would remain. For example, if a migrant aspirant does not have minimum educational quality, they will not be able to benefit from the online training.
Many donor agencies, international organisations and even the government have created many immigration-centric apps. Some may be for raising awareness, some for training or registration. But there is a lack of coordination between them, leading to a lot of duplications.
It is not known exactly how many apps there are and who the users are. These are made based on projects and payments are made for a certain period of time. Once the project is over, those apps are no longer available.
There is a lack of farsightedness. Even there is no assessment of how many are using the apps. Creating apps is not enough, we have to see if they work. We monitor these jointly with the ICT ministry.
Asif Munier is a migration expert and consultant at ILO