Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today asked the foreign minister to submit a complete report before the next cabinet meeting on measures to send back Bangladeshi expatriate workers to their workplace and explore new job markets for them.
The premier gave the direction while presiding over the weekly cabinet meeting from her official Ganabhaban residence as her cabinet colleagues got connected from the cabinet division of Bangladesh Secretariat here through a video conference.
"An additional discussion was held on sending back the expatriate workers to their workplace as they remained stranded at home due to the coronavirus or arranging jobs for them in the countries where they are now staying," said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam at a news briefing after the meeting.
The premier, he said, asked the authorities concerned to find new job markets in countries such as Uzbekistan and Kazakistan as these countries might be the next lucrative places for overseas employments.
Anwarul added that the premier asked the foreign minister to submit a complete report on exploring new job markets abroad and measures taken for sending back the stranded expatriate workers to the countries where they were employed.
Replying to a query, the cabinet secretary said that the finance minister held talks with his counterpart of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia about arranging more flights or allowing flights of Bangladesh Biman to take the Bangladeshi workers to that country.
The finance minister also requested the authorities concerned of the middle east country to extend the deadline further as it would be difficult to send the Saudi returnees to their workplace by the 24-day deadline, he added.
The cabinet was informed of the measures taken by the Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry and its future work plan to overcome the crisis arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
So far 141,046 Bangladesh workers returned home this year, the cabinet secretary said adding that of them, 88, 586 came with travel passes.
He opined that the number of returnees is not alarming for Bangladesh as around one crore Bangladeshi expatriates stay abroad and a good number of the expatriates travel to the country regularly.
Replying to a query, he also said as many as 5974 expatriate workers have returned to their homeland from April 30 to May 31 and the government has given each of them Taka 5000 for which the government has to spend Taka 2.96 crore.
The government has brought back 207 female workers from Saudi Arabia while 95 from Lebanon at its own cost, he informed.
About remittance, the cabinet secretary said the government has got remittance worth about 18.21 billion USD this year which is 9.6 percent up from the previous year despite facing severe blow due to the coronavirus outbreak.
"The remittance inflow in the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic is notable and it is a good news indeed," he said.
Anwarul added that the foreign missions abroad have taken elaborate programmes to make the Bangladeshi expatriates aware about following the health guidelines properly as around one crore Bangladeshi people are living abroad.
The cabinet secretary said 700,159 Bangladeshi people got job abroad in 2019 while some 181273 people were employed at different countries from January to August this year against the target of sending 750,000 people.
In replying to another query, he said that the concerned ministries would take their decisions relating to reopening the educational institutions including schools and colleges as a decision to this end has already been announced.
The cabinet prayed for the Prime Minister on her 74th birthday, he said, adding that the premier did not want any formalities regarding the celebration of her birthday.