The number of Bangladeshis heading overseas to work has plummeted by nearly 46 percent in the first five months of this year as job opportunities have almost dried up in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the wealthiest Gulf states, an official said Wednesday.
The official of the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) told Xinhua that "174,227 Bangladeshis found jobs abroad in January-May this year, down from 321,722 during the same period in 2012."
"Some 34,370 people found jobs abroad in May this year, down 52. 44 percent comparing with the same month a year ago," said the official who preferred to be unnamed.
Of the total overseas employment in the first five months of 2013, he said more than two-thirds of Bangladeshi workers found jobs in a few Middle East countries including Oman and Qatar.
According to the official, overseas employment for Bangladeshis continued to slide since the middle of the last year as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which in the last couple of years hosted about two-thirds of total employment, recruited a negligible number of workers from the country in the last months.
The UAE reportedly stopped issuing almost all kinds of entry permits for Bangladeshi passport holders last year citing Dhaka's failure to resolve its security concerns over identification and fake documents.
The UAE, which hosted 2.29 million Bangladeshi workers as of May since 1976, the second highest number after Saudi Arabia, has been a sustained labor market for the last couple of years despite the global economic recession.
Bangladesh suffered the crucial blow as employment opportunities for the country's millions of foreign job aspirants in the UAE came to a near halt.
"Only 4,095 people found jobs in the UAE in January-May this year, down from 145,660 during the same period in 2012," said the official quoting the latest BMET data.
Propelled by impressive employment growth in UAE market, remittance-reliant Bangladesh witnessed big boom in overseas employment until June 2012, he said. "Some 374,837 Bangladeshis in January-June period of 2012 found overseas jobs, a rise of nearly 50 percent over the same period last year."
As UAE jobs dried up, the official said, overseas employment for Bangladeshis in the second half of 2012 fell by nearly 23 percent to some 232,961.
Officials, however, attributed the current sliding remittance growth to the falls in overseas employment.
Quoting provisional data, a Bangladesh Bank (BB) official has told Xinhua earlier that "some 8.6 million expatriate Bangladeshis remitted home 13,395 million U.S. dollars in July-May, about 9 percent higher than the same period a year ago."
A new World Bank report -- "Bangladesh: Towards Accelerated, Inclusive, and Sustainable Growth -- Opportunities and Challenges" -- says Bangladesh now needs to accelerate GDP growth to 7.5 percent to 8 percent and sustain 8 percent remittance growth to reach its goal of middle-income country status by next decade.