Momen proposes declaring Dec 30 as ‘Expatriate Day’

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Dhaka, Dec 18: Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen today proposed to declare the 30th December as the ‘Expatriate Day’ to involve more non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) and diaspora in the country’s ongoing development.

“In December, huge numbers of our expatriates visit here, we can organize different meetings and seminars marking the (expatriate) day to encourage our  expatriates to get involved with their international standard expertise in the country’s development journey,” he said.

The foreign minister was addressing, as the chief guest, a discussion organized by the Expatriate Welfare and Oversees Employment Ministry marking the International Migrants Day at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital.

The minister said, currently 1.2 crore Bangladeshis are living abroad and they earn around 25 billion US dollar annually, but only 1 to 1.5 percent of them work as skilled human resources.

“If we can increase the number of skilled workers up to 20 percent, the expatriate earning could be as high as 100 billion US dollar annually easily,” he said.

In this regard, he said, the government has taken various initiates to provide training to the intending expatriate workers.

As per the directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he said, the government has taken an initiative to send 1,000 people from each upazila every year.

“It is not possible for the government alone to fulfill the target… So, I urge all stakeholders including development partners, international agencies, NGOs and civil society to work along with the government,” he said.

The foreign minister said he urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to take action for holding back the sudden hike of airfare to various Middle Eastern destinations that had forced the recruiting agencies to increase the migration cost.

Dr Momen also urged the Expatriate Welfare and Oversees Employment Ministry to open a dedicated cell to protect the assets, including lands and houses, owned by the Bangladeshi expatriates here.

The foreign minister said the government has taken economic diplomacy policy package and is searching for new labour markets abroad.

He said job opportunity have already been created in Romania, Serbia, Italy and Greece in Europe and many countries in Africa while the government is planning to reopen the Libyan market as the political situation is getting better in that war-torn northeast African country.

Saying that Bangladesh is committed to ensure safe and secure migration, the foreign minister said, during the pandemic, he urged all migrant host countries to refrain from job cut and take proper steps to ensure welfare of the expatriate workers.

Noting that 65 lakh people of Bangladesh have already been displaced due to river erosion, Dr Momen said, Dhaka has strongly urged the international community to address the issue of climate refugees.

Expatriate welfare and oversees employment minister Imran Ahmed presided over the discussion while Parliamentary Standing Committee on Expatriate Welfare and Oversees Employment Ministry chairman Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud spoke as the special guest.

Expatriate welfare and oversees employment secretary Dr Ahmed Munirus Salehin delivered welcome speech.