During the period of permacrisis and recent declination of foreign currency reserve, Bangladesh immensely seeks solutions to control inflation and balance of payment through fostering the flow of wage earners remittances. Therefore, the role of migrant workers becomes pivotal to manage the economic crisis as well as wellbeing of their families. It has been assumed by government that more than 7.3 million Bangladeshi workers has the capability to enrich foreign currency reserve up to 30 billion in a year. However, some limitations in terms of access to digital fund or money transfer, migration status, level of competencies and skills, availing welfare services and access to information from existing sources somehow interrupting the initiatives of government to increase foreign currency reserve as well as protecting migrant workers rights.
Digitalization in within service delivery system at pre and post-migration stage become essential to protect migrant rights. A strong digital labor migration management platform could reduce the migration cost and time for recruitment, which often pushes migrant workers to choose irregular path. Though migrants support services including welfare services, legal assistance and online training services are delivering through digital means in different countries, Bangladesh is yet to materialize the concept. Moreover, the digitalization in overseas recruitment process is a viable means to protect the migrants from any fraudulence as it store important documents-such as job contract, payment slips, training certificates, medical certificates, visa documents etc. and could be useful for dispute resolution.
Labor Migration Management System:
Access to Information (a2i) is an innovative initiative of Bangladesh to foster the digitalization with the objective to connect Bangladesh with global village and become a shining communication, trade and technological regional hub. Despite of different government digital service portal, the Expatriate Ministry with the technical support of different INGOs and development agencies took initiatives to digitalize the migration governance. To foster the digitalization process, Bangladesh government builds partnership with private sectors, and taken a number of initiatives to minimize the hurdles of migrants to access information and services. Hence, in 2018 with the technical support from SDC, ILO and UNDP, the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment developed the Labor Migration Management System which is yet to ready for public to provide updated information. Though the online site has been developed to minimize efforts to search individually BMET, WEWB, PKB or BKTTC services, appropriate web linkage and updated information is still missing.
We should welcome partnership based technical
initiatives both from government and private
sectors end to foster the
digitalization process and
ensure profitable and
secure labor migration
Where are the limitations?
Though the appearance and structure of the site is good, while missing in updated data, list, information and web links make the site poor to access and use. For example: the pre-migration information is not much descriptive as well as updated. Similarly, the online training content and pre-departure training content has not been merged with Muktopaath or BKTTC E-learning Platform (. Some country wise information is also missing and the existing information seems not adequate. Moreover, contents or web links for DEMO registration, Finger print, Smart card online application, Recruiting Agencies (RAs), Probashi Kallayan Bank (PKB), Wage Earners Welfare Board (WEWB) and Expatriate Digital Center are also found as missing. Altogether, inappropriate contents or gaps in information may daunt the migrants from accessing digital platform and make the government efforts failure to strengthen the labor migration management system once functionalize to reach wider people.
What to improve and include?
Besides surmounting depicted limitations through providing updated data, list and information related to labor migration and welfare, as well as merging with other relevant web links; the site could incorporate other components, websites or digital platforms like bdjobs (https://bdesh.bdjobs.com/default.asp) for searching overseas jobs and vacancies, Bideshjaatra (https://bdeshjaatra.com) for migration preparation, Bibhui (http://iidbd.org/p9146/) for pre-departure orientation, Police Expatriate Help cell (https://www.police.gov.bd/en/expatriate_help_cell) for complaint mechanism, and Wage Earners Welfare Board migrants registration (http://member.wewb.gov.bd/wewbm/createnew MemberHomeAll) to access welfare and reintegration services. According to news and studies performed by different activists, and NGOs, migrants and their families are not well familiarized with the support documents and forms for applying to avail different welfare services and aids. Therefore, the concern should given in linking the available sites to access government forms including passport application, police clearance, legal aids, wage earners death compensation, medical aids, child scholarship, disability aids, loan from Probashi Kallayan Bank, and so on.
More things to do:
Union Digital Centers (UDC) is the hallmark achievement of the governments Digital Bangladesh vision, which are providing all public and private services to rural citizens. There are 4,500+ UDCs across the country covering utmost rural areas to ensure access to information and public & private services via online. These UDC has the potentiality to become a hub for migrants to receive services as well as information as it serves 3.20 million people on each month. Hence, capacitate 9,100+ UDC entrepreneurs on providing migration related services as well as linkage with Expatriate Digital Center (http://edc.gov.bd/) are essential to ensure access to digital services from rural level.
If the existing online services remain discrete, it will be challenging for migrants to access authentic information as well as protecting own rights. Apart from this, digital education becomes mandatory at grassroots level to leverage the efficiency of |
government services, on which we need to focus.
However, in true sense, Bangladesh government made significant advancement in digitization of migration governance as well as simplifying support services though there are some inconsistencies. Overlapping of similar service delivery system, online platforms or mobile Applications and outdated of such digital platforms due to lack of coordination and budget let not serve the target community as expected. Hence, we should welcome partnership based technical initiatives both from government and private sectors end to foster the digitalization process and ensure profitable and secure labor migration.
Aminul Hoque Tushar is a Migration Analyst and