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‘Syndicate’ manipulating air fare to Middle East

Published : Friday, 31 December, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 757

It is upsetting to note that a dubious syndicate of recruiters, travel agents and foreign airline high-ups has reportedly indulged in abnormally hiking air ticket prices to Middle East countries. On one hand, our expat workers to Middle East countries have been facing one after another obstacle - ranging from being victimised by shady recruiting agencies, lower payments , lack of safety and security abroad , while on the other - the recent hike in air fare will make their journey even more difficult.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic had erupted in early 2020, average fare of a plane ticket from Bangladesh to the Middle East was around Tk 50,000, now it has been doubled to over a lakh. Indisputably, our migrant workers have become the firsthand victims of this artificial hike by forking out whatever is left in their pockets.

However, a number of manpower exporters and recruiting agencies had come up with the allegation of this 'Syndicate' at the first meeting of the FBCCI's Standing Committee on Manpower and Skill Development on Wednesday. They also alleged that the alleged syndicate wanted to streamline the process of sending workers to Malaysia, similar to manipulating air fare in the Middle East.

What is even more alarming is that the chairman of the FBCCI's standing committee himself complained that in the past the entire process of sending migrant workers to Malaysia was in the hands of only 10 companies. Their collective corruption and irregularities made the Malaysian government stop taking workers from Bangladesh at one stage. Now the same clique is manoeuvring to send migrant workers to the country through 25 other companies.

A point in case - Nepal, India, Pakistan has been reportedly exporting manpower to Malaysia through more than one and a half thousand recruiting agents. Therefore, we fail to understand the actual reason to limit the number of recruiting agents in Bangladesh. Our near-impoverished migrant workers have to work hard to amass the money required to ensure a job while booking a safe passage to Middle East , Malaysia or whatever destination. Most importantly, our migrant workers are also the lifeline of foreign remittance. And the least we expect of them is to shoulder the burden of illegally hiked air fare.

We believe it is time that the government's expatriates' welfare ministry concerned and law enforcement agencies take stock of the allegations and form a probe committee the quickest. Our civil aviation ministry and airline experts may well join in exposing the sinister mechanism applied behind hiked air tickets. We don't want any syndicate or monopoly to control the foreign recruiting processes by illegal and quick money making.

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