Meltdown shrinks Bangladesh’s job market in S Korea

New Age: The global meltdown has made Bangladesh’s planned manpower export to South Korea uncertain with Asia’s fourth largest economy bracing for an economic slump and announcing 200,000 job cuts in 2009, an official said.

‘It would be difficult for South Korean employers to recruit many Bangladeshi workers as they are facing the fallout of the global financial crisis,’ the South Korean ambassador to Bangladesh, Suk-Bum Park, told New Age on Thursday.

Korea planned recruitment of some 5,000 Bangladeshi semi-skilled workers in 2009 as per an agreement signed between Seoul and Dhaka in June 2007.

The Korean government had designated Bangladesh as a partner country in its ‘Employment Permit Scheme’ (EPS) to import manpower.

But the prospect looks bleak after the Korean finance minister Yoon Jeung-hyun warned that the country’s economy could shrink by 2 percent and cut 200,000 jobs in 2009. He also said that the recovery could take longer than it did during the financial crisis that affected most of Asia a decade ago.

Under the agreement signed during the military-backed government of Fakhruddin Ahmed, the Korean authorities recruited nearly 1,500 workers on a three-year term.

A pass in Korean language test has been made mandatory to be eligible for getting a job in South Korea. Once a job seeker passes the test, his name would be put on certain website to let the employers choose suitable persons for their firms and sign up contacts, explained the ambassador.

After recruitment of only 300 Bangladeshis in January, the process remained halted in February and March, according to Suk-Bum Park.

Bangladesh earned $9.79 million as remittance from South Korea in July-January period and $19.69 million the 2008-09 fiscal year, according to the central bank data.

The country earns nearly $9 billion as remittance sent by Bangladeshis working in different parts of the world.

With financial crisis erupting in September last year, many Bangladeshi workers were forced to return home without completing their contacts.

Malaysia, a major destination for Bangladesh’s manpower export, earlier cancelled visas for over 55,000 workers who were waiting for going to that country with jobs. Besides, deportation of several hundred Bangladeshi workers from different countries has put Bangladesh’s future remittance in-flow at risk.

The government has, however, launched diplomatic efforts to restore its job market in Malaysia while it is eyeing new markets in Eastern Europe and Africa.

Source ::: The Daily New Age, 28 March 2009


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