Introduce ‘reintegration’ loan for returnee migrant workers
Speakers at a programme on Wednesday suggested introducing reintegration loan scheme by banks and financial institutions (FIs) for returnee migrant workers to help them get involved with income generating activities.
Although the banks make handsome profits through bringing remittance from abroad, they said, so far no bank has such reintegration scheme – meant for integrating the migrant workers with the income generating activities so that they could contribute to the economy back home.
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They put forward the recommendation at a seminar titled ‘Economic Reintegration of Bangladeshi Returnee Migrant Workers: Prospects and Challenges’ at organised by Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme (OKUP) at the CIRDAP Auditorium in the city.
Migrant rights activists, workers and officials took part in the seminar on sharing research findings.
OKUP chairman Shakirul Islam presented the key findings of the research, saying that no banks and financial institutes or exchange houses has loan programme for the returnee migrant workers.
The speakers suggested establishing an institutionalised reintegration programme for the returnee workers by the government and providing supports from the government’s social safety net programme.
They also stressed the need for simplifying the lending procedure of Probashi Kallyan Bank. The bank also should extend reintegration loans, they added.
According to the findings, some banks have some attractive offers for high-end migrants, for example, loan for purchasing flat, dollar bonds and so on.
As the banks are making profit through receiving remittances, they should provide reintegration loans to the remittance earners.
Besides, the banks also should support to the workers from their respective Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) schemes.
According to the research findings, about 60 per cent of the workers were unsuccessful in their migration cycle while 10 per cent returned being victims of abuse and exploitation at their job destination countries.
It also revealed that 40 per cent of the workers have successfully completed their migration period. Of them, 46 per cent considered that they could return with skills, but 54 per cent could not acquire skills.
Those who returned without skills were mostly women domestic workers and worked as low-skilled labour.
The research conducted on 250 returnee migrant workers (66 per cent male and 34 per cent female) of five Upazilas in five districts of the country.
The research identified some challenges in the way of reintegration supports like rare functionality of existing development programmes and support services, especially led by the government institutions.
It found the lack of comprehensive programme, action plan, long-term interventions, lack of special reintegration schemes, start-up investment programme, matching funds programme for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and investments for the returnee migrant workers etc.
There is no allocation for the vulnerable returnee migrant workers under the National Social Safety Net Programme (NSSNP).
The study recommended setting up a special wing under the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment to take the responsibility of dealing with ‘return and reintegration’ of migrant workers.
Taking part in the discussion, Zahid Anwar, deputy director at the Wage Earners’ Welfare Board (WEWB), said they would soon launch a reintegration scheme for the returnee migrant workers.
He said the board is providing various supports to the migrant workers and their families, and they would take more programme in future for the wellbeing of the migrant workers.