The corruption watchdog also appreciated the recent circular issued by Bangladesh Bank to create scope for foreign workers to remit their entire income

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Wednesday recommended formulating an integrated strategic policy to eliminate anarchy in the recruitment of foreign workers in Bangladesh

The corruption watchdog said the policy is needed as a large number of foreign nationals work here in different sectors illegally and send their income to their countries through illegal channels.

TIB also appreciated the recent circular issued by Bangladesh Bank to create scope for foreign workers to remit their entire income to their countries, saying that it is a positive decision.

The policy made and implemented with the participation of all concerned is a prerequisite for ensuring good governance and preventing money laundering, said a TIB press release.

Such a policy would prevent remittance outflow through illegal channels and avoid huge revenue loss for the government.l, it said.

“A big chunk of foreign workers are working in different sectors of the country illegally and remit the earned income to their home countries through hundi. Its minimum annual amount is more than Taka 26,000 crore. The annual revenue loss due to tax evasion is about Taka 12,000 crore,” said TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman, referring to a TIB study titled “Employment of Expatriates in Bangladesh: Governance Challenge and Way-out,” which was disclosed on February 5, 2020.

He said if the foreign workers send their earned income through legal channels to their home countries by taking the opportunity provided by Bangladesh Bank due to the concerted efforts of all the authorities concerned, then the positive results of the recent decision can only be expected.

“Otherwise, this circular will be treated as a paper decision like many other cases,” he said.

The TIB Executive Director said that anarchy is there in the recruitment process of foreign workers and their stay in the country due to the laxity in supervision as well as the dishonest and corrupt attitude of a portion of all parties concerned, starting from the Home Ministry to recruiting firms.

“Most of the foreign nationals don’t follow the proper procedure for arrival, stay and employment in Bangladesh. Many of them usually come on tourist visas, on-arrival visas or business visas, though their main purpose is employment in Bangladesh. With the help of local employers they later join work in various organisations without work permit,” he said, adding that they remain out of the government’s monitoring.

Dr Iftekharuzzaman said since the government has not updated the minimum monthly salary limit, the employers do not even declare the exact salary of the foreigners to evade taxes. “As a result, the government is losing a huge amount of revenue on the one hand, and a class of unscrupulous clique is taking the existing system as a golden opportunity to siphon money off the country on the other hand,” he said.

“So, alongside the decision taken by Bangladesh Bank, it will have to formulate an integrated strategic policy with participation of all parties concerned over recruitment of foreign workers,” he added.

Besides, TIB recommended for keeping the record of information of all foreign nationals, introducing an integrated information management system on all arrival and departure routes, updating the minimum monthly salary limit for foreign workers, and conducting regular drives in different offices and factories by joint task-forces comprised of National Board Revenue (NBR), Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), NGO Affairs Bureau and Special Branch (SB) of Police in order to glean information over foreign workers.

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