Putting forth a comprehensive 15-point demand, the NRB CIP Association today (September 16) said the fulfillment of the demands will not only enhance the government's image among expatriates but also help increase remittances to Bangladesh.
The apex organisation of expatriate Bangladeshis raised the demands in a press conference held at the National Press Club in the capital.
In a written statement, NRB CIP Association President Mohammad Mahtabur Rahman presented the demands, which are:
1. Expatriates who work hard in foreign countries and send remittances to support the country's economy should be recognized. When these remittance heroes pass away due to a lack of medical care abroad, it is shameful that their bodies have to be sent to the country with funds collected door-to-door by expatriates. Therefore, we request the government to bear the entire cost of repatriating the bodies of these destitute expatriates.
2. Expatriates who have contributed significantly to the country's economy by sacrificing their youth and returning to Bangladesh in their old age often do not have the ability to work. For those expatriates who return after 20 to 30 years, an expatriate allowance should be initiated. The government has already introduced a general pension scheme. Some changes are needed in the policy. Particularly, it has not been clearly stated there. The principal amount should be returned if the pension scheme is activated, and we believe that arrangements should be made by the government to continue expatriate insurance. The 2.5% incentive provided by the government when remittances are sent through legal channels should be reserved for expatriates.
3. Expatriates consider investing in Bangladesh's US Dollar Bond, US Dollar Premium Bond, and Wage Earners' Development Bond as a 'safe investment' in the country. For the past two years, investment in bonds has been restricted. At the end of the term, the opportunity for reinvestment has been eliminated. Recently, the interest rate on the US Dollar Bond has been set at only 3%, which has disappointed expatriates. In many advanced countries, a 6% profit is given instead of the dollar. In this way, there is no interest among expatriates in investing in low-interest bonds. Expatriates are taking their investments back to their respective countries. As a result, a dollar crisis is emerging in Bangladesh. On the other hand, no declaration has been made regarding the Wage Earners' Development Bond by the government so far. Therefore, we believe that the government should take immediate steps to increase the government's reserve and bring Wage Earners' Development Bonds for sale. Rumours about the dollar crisis need to be resolved. It will help both the country and the expatriates.
4. Expatriates face various problems in building houses in Bangladesh from abroad. So, for expatriates, Upazila-based 'expatriate villages' should be allocated. To create environmentally beautiful housing, the government should allocate government land and provide loans to expatriates at low interest rates for them to buy plots and flats.
5. Expatriates are managing large-scale industry and commerce in various countries of the world. Many experienced entrepreneurs are showing interest in investing in Bangladesh. The top organization of expatriates, the NRB CIP Association, organizes global business summits in various countries. Those wealthy businessmen are repeatedly requesting investment opportunities in Bangladesh. The proposal is that if the government can create a separate economic zone for expatriates, many entrepreneurs will invest in Bangladesh. This will create employment opportunities for many people in Bangladesh.
6. To facilitate travel for expatriates to and from their workplace abroad, it is necessary to make the cost of airfare affordable. Expatriates who are going abroad for work, not for travel, should be encouraged to travel by cutting travel tax. In particular, in the case of any decision of the government regarding expatriates, the NRB CIP Association should be included in the policy-making committee.
7. Special quotas for the children of expatriates should be reserved for admission to schools, colleges, universities, and medical colleges in Bangladesh. The opportunity to create voter ID cards through embassies should be provided to the children born abroad. Although voter ID cards have been introduced in some countries, they cannot fulfill the demand. Giving expatriate children the opportunity to create voter ID cards in all countries is essential.
8. The process of obtaining a passport for them to go abroad should be made easier. Harassment in the name of police verification for passport issuance should be stopped. In the case of expatriates' children born abroad, police verification in the name of their birth registration should also be stopped. The number of schools and colleges should be increased at government expense for the children of expatriates to study abroad.
9. In the case of sending sick expatriate laborers back to the country, financial assistance should be provided. for ensuring financial cooperation of the Bangladesh government, a list should be prepared at the union level.
10. The airports in Bangladesh must put an end to harassment of expatriates. A dedicated desk should be introduced in all government ministries to provide services to expatriates.
11. Those expatriate entrepreneurs who are creating employment opportunities in foreign lands by hiring Bangladeshi workers should be respected and encouraged in Bangladesh.
12. In many countries around the world, there are restrictions on sending additional remittances to Bangladesh. In such cases, the option of applying for CIP through family members should be made available.
13. As expatriates often face difficulties when paying taxes, measures should be taken to ease the process and reduce their troubles.
14. Diplomatic missions abroad should be more proactive in making decisions by receiving advice from expatriates to prevent 'Hundi' business.
15. To discuss matters concerning the interests of expatriates, representatives of them should be appointed to the National Parliament.
In the press conference, the association's Senior Vice President Tateyama Kabir, Vice President Md. Monir Hossain, General Secretary Mohammed Yaseen Chowdhury, Organising Secretary- Md. Mahmudur Rahman Khan Shahin, Treasurer Engineer Mohammad Ashrafur Rahman, and General Secretary of the National Press Club Shyamal Dutta were present.
BDST: 1835 HRS, SEP 16, 2023