Expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment ministry secretary Ahmed Munirus Saleheen speaks at the programme

Speakers Saturday at an advocacy consultation stressed designing and developing migrant-friendly loan schemes of the Probashi Kalyan Bank for economic reintegration and sustainable livelihoods of the migrants and their families, reports news agency BSS.

They urged the authorities concerned to take necessary steps to ease the conditions for the returned migrants of having access to the reintegration loans by removing the discrepancies between prerequisites and practices.

Ovibashi Karmi Unnyan Programme (OKUP) organised the consultation on ‘Sustainable Economic Reintegration of Bangladeshi Migrant Workers: The Role of Probashi Kalyan Bank’ at InterContinental Hotel in the capital.

The OKUP conducted research with objectives to gain better understanding the situation relating to the disbursement of the reintegration loan with positive and negative factors to access the migrants to reintegration loan.

Speaking as the chief guest, expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment ministry secretary, Ahmed Munirus Saleheen said the bank has been working for rendering services to a segment of population called migrant workers and their families.

As chairman of the bank, he committed to continue steps to simplify the conditions of the loan disbursement among the country’s migrant workers.

Parliamentarian caucus on migration and development secretary general Mahjabeen Khaled, who spoke as guest of honour, said that information related to the PKB loans has not been reached to the grassroots level.

Women migrants seeking loans for the entrepreneurs might be encouraged to have access to the loans, she said.

Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) director general Shahidul Alam said migration literacy and financial literacy could make the migrants and the families more proactive in solving the financial and migration related problems.

Mentioning that civil society organisations might be involved to improve capacity building of the bank in disbursing the different loans, he suggested that putting emphasis on having trust on the relations of the migrants while disbursing the loans.

About the status of disbursement of reintegration loan, the OKUP study found that from 2011 to 2019, the PKB disbursed Tk 29.2 million among only 111 returnee migrant workers under the regular ‘reintegration loan’ scheme.

The study also mentioned that during FY 2020-21 and 2021-22, the disbursement of reintegration loans increased to Tk 3.48 billion among 12,680 recipients.

The study identified some drawbacks in disbursement of reintegration that include the problems with finding guarantors, collecting bank statement, proving trade license, requirement of prior investment.

The OKUP study recommended ensuring migrant friendly customer care services, developing financial products for migrants and their families and introducing online banking facility in PKB’s transactions.

It suggests collaboration with NGO/CSO or other financial entities for extending support for trade-based training, business development training and other needful assistance.

As panel discussant, BNSK executive director Sumaiya Islam said that PKB has been created with funds of migrant workers so the government should consider lowering interest rate for them.

AKM Ramizul Islam, additional director, foreign exchange policy department of Bangladesh Bank said that financial literacy should be given the migrant workers before their departures to improve reintegration on their return.

Migrants should have their own bank accounts opened before going abroad to send back remittance through banking channel, he said.

Victim Shompa of Munshiganj, family member of migrant workers, sought the Bangabandhu loans from PKB branch in Munshiganj but she was not given the loans.

Nazia Haider, embassy of Switzerland, emphasized the financial literacy as it is very important for migrant workers. The financial literacy could prepare the migrants for the reintegration, he said.

PKB managing director Zahidul Haque said they were gradually trying to ease the conditions of the loans of the bank to ensure sustainability of the bank and reintegration of the migrants.

OKUP chairman Shakirul Islam and executive director Omar Faruque Chowdhury, among others, spoke at the programme.