The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved a Taka 427.30 crore project to create employments for the expatriate workers who have returned home from abroad due to the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic.
The approval came from the 1st ECNEC meeting of the current fiscal year (FY22) held on Wednesday with ECNEC Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
The premier joined the meeting virtually from her official Ganobhaban residence while concerned Ministers, State Ministers, Planning Commission members and secretaries concerned attended the meeting from the NEC Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan said that a total of 10 projects were approved today involving an overall estimated cost of Taka 2,575.42 crore. “Of the total project cost, Taka 2,150.42 crore will come from the Government of Bangladesh while the rest of Taka 425 crore as project assistance,” he added.
Of the approved 10 projects, seven are new while three are revised projects.
Newly appointed State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam, Planning Commission members and secretaries concerned also joined the briefing.
Mannan said the Wage Earners Welfare Board under the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment will implement the Taka 427 crore project by December 2023 under which Taka 13,500 would be provided to each of some 2 lakh expatriate workers, who have returned home due to the negative impact of COVID-19 worldwide. The World Bank will provide Taka 425 crore as loan for the project.
He said the workers will be given necessary orientation and counseling while some 23,500 selected skilled workers would be facilitated to get jobs both at home and abroad.
Commenting on the project, the Planning Minister said these expatriate workers have returned home from abroad due to various reasons and they have contributed a lot over the years towards the development of the country.
“Now time has come to pay them back and for this, support will be provided to these returnee workers so that they can be involved in respectable jobs again,” he added.
Dr Shamsul Alam said around 5 lakh expatriate workers have so far returned home while 2 lakh returnee workers would be given support under the project.
He informed that a rich database would be made under the project to ascertain the actual number of returnee workers following the impact of the pandemic and thus support would be provided to them.
Joining the briefing, Planning Commission member Sharifa Khan said that initially 2 lakh returnee workers would be included under the project and the project
coverage would be expanded further in future.
She informed that the support of Taka 13,500 to each returnee worker would help them bear their initial expenses and thus allow them to collect necessary certificates from various agencies.
Answering to a question, Sharifa said that the numbers of around 4.80 lakh returnee workers was collected from the help desk of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
The project area covers 32 districts namely – Dhaka, Tangail, Kishoreganj, Narsingdi, Munshiganj, Faridpur, Gopalganj, Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, Pabna, Bogura, Naogaon, Rajshahi, Sirajganj, Barishal, Patuakhali, Kushtia, Jashore, Khulna, Feni, Noakhali, Chandpur, Chattogram, Brahmanbaria, Cox’s Bazar, Rangamati, Cumilla, Sylhet, and Sunamganj.
The project operations also include creating linkage among the technical and financial support providing agencies and the returnee workers so that they can get financial support, creating awareness among the common people including the returnee workers about the operations of Wage Earners Welfare Board through holding meetings, workshops and seminars at the district, upazila and union level.