Some manpower recruiting agencies are allegedly charging overseas jobseekers Tk 5 to 7 lakh each for sending them to Saudi Arabia though the government earlier fixed the migration cost at Tk 1.65 lakh, sources said.
Dr Tasneem Siddiqui, founding chairman of Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) at Dhaka University, said some people purchase visas from Saudi recruiting agencies and then sell back those to Bangladeshi recruiting agencies.
“The Bangladeshi agencies later set the prices of the visas. This is where the cost of visas gets higher. This is called individual issuing visa,” she said.
Recruiting agencies admitted that few of them are charging their clients higher-than-the-government-fixed amounts for jobs in the kingdom, the largest manpower market for Bangladesh.
“Hundreds of recruiting agencies are sending manpower to different countries including Saudi Arabia. Some agencies may take Tk 4-Tk 6 lakh for migration to Saudi Arabia,” Shahjalal Mozumder, proprietor of Shahjalal Overseas Services Ltd, told daily sun.
He, however, said his agency is not charging its clients Tk 5 -7 lakh for migration to the kingdom.
Shahjalal called the government-fixed rates ‘irrationally low’ and demanded an increase. "The rates should be higher so that we can operate with a minimum profit,” he added.
The manpower exporter said female workers are migrating to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia almost free of cost.
“Saudi employers are sponsoring their (female workers) air tickets while the local recruiting agencies are bearing their passport cost,” he claimed.
Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam recently said the country’s manpower export has increased by 35 percent over the past year.
Asked about the high migration cost to KSA, the minister claimed that they are not aware of such issue.
“We have not received any allegation regarding higher migration cost being charged by the manpower recruiting agencies. We will take punitive action following investigation if we get any specific allegations,” he said.
Bangladeshis are migrating to Saudi Arabia to work in five sector and categories -- operation and maintenance, household, construction, housemaid, and service sector, according to sources at Bangladesh Bureau of Manpower and Training (BMET).
The workers usually get two-year visas which may be extended by up to 20 years.
Jobseekers in the operation and maintenance sector usually get a two-year renewable visa. Saudi employers extend the validity of the visa for up to 10 to 20 years depending on the performance of the workers.
Labourers in this sector are paid 550-700 Saudi riyal and if the overtime adds up, their wages up to figures equivalent to Tk 11,935 to Tk 15,190 per month.
Workers who migrate for household workers also get a two-year renewable visa. They can earn Tk 21,700-Tk 27,125 per month without overtime.
The validity of their visa can be extended for up to 10 to 15 years. Bangladeshi workers engaged in the construction sector usually earn Tk 21,700 –Tk 28,210 per month.
Monthly incomes of female workers and labourers in the service sector range between Tk 17,360 and Tk 21,700 per month.