See More on Facebook

Bangladesh: Foreigners siphon off US$3.1 billion a year

Finds Transparency International Bangladesh study on expats working in Bangladesh.

Written by

Updated: February 6, 2020

An estimated $3.1 billion, or about Tk 26,400 crore, is siphoned away every year by foreign nationals employed in the country, found a study by the Transparency International Bangladesh.

About 1.6 lakh foreign nationals became gainfully employed in Bangladesh after entering the country on a tourist visa, said the report “Employment of Foreigners in Bangladesh: Challenge of Good Governance and Way to Overcome”.

Typically, foreigners enter Bangladesh on a three-month tourist visa and manage jobs soon afterwards given the shortage of people with strong communication and management skills, which are in high demand in the garment sector that has gone on to become the world’s second largest supplier of apparel.

When their visa is nearing expiration, they go back to their home country and return with a fresh three-month tourist visa and continue with their jobs in Bangladesh.

Their salaries are paid fully in cash or to bank accounts abroad, depriving the government of tax too.

“Neither the employers nor the workers abided by the law during the recruitment process,” said Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of TIB, at a press conference yesterday.

At the same time, the government organisations that are supposed to ensure application of related laws and regulations have either failed to do so or they lacked efficiency.

“As a result, we can see a picture of institutionalisation of a kind of irregularity in collusion here,” he said.

But employment of foreign nationals is a necessity in the face of skill-shortage in Bangladesh.

“Their recruitment has to be transparent, which will also ensure accountability and good governance,” Iftekharuzzaman said.

Some 90,000 foreigners are working in Bangladesh following due procedures, according to the report.

And about 41 percent of them come from India, followed by China, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.

To evade taxes, salaries of legal foreign workers are shown less in the official documents than their actual income.

For instance, the actual salary of a chief executive officer in the garment sector ranges from $10,000 to $12,000 per month. But in official documents it is shown to be between $3,000 and $3,600.

Furthermore, about one-third the salary of foreign nationals legally working here is paid into the bank accounts; the rest is given in cash, the study found.

And due to tax evasion, the government is deprived of about $1.35 billion, or Tk 12,000 crore, in revenue from foreign nationals every year, found the Bangladesh chapter of the Berlin-based global graft watchdog Transparency International.

In fiscal 2018-19, 9,500 foreign nationals paid Tk 181 crores as tax under the jurisdiction of Tax Zone-11, the TIB report says.

Foreign workers sent $46.6 million as remittance through the legal channel in fiscal 2017-18, says the report referring to data from the Bangladesh Bank.

They are mostly employed in garment and textile mills, buying house, multinational companies, power plants, telecom companies, information technology, rawhide industry, healthcare, hotels and restaurants, cargo and freight forwards.

The study, which was conducted from April 2018 to December 2019, excluded foreign diplomats, pastors, researchers, students, officials of the United Nations and its wing offices and of international organisations.

The report mentions some challenges when it comes to ensuring good governance while dealing with foreign workers.

In its nine-point recommendations, TIB called upon the government to launch a “one-stop service” system to provide required services regarding foreign workers’ stay and work permit in Bangladesh.

It urged the government to update foreign workers’ salary and wage scale, to assess sector-based requirement of foreign workers and to ensure due procedure in their recruitments.

It further called upon the government to conduct drive under a joint taskforce at different offices and factories to avail necessary information regarding foreign workers.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

Daily Star
About the Author: The Daily Star is a leading English-language daily newspaper in Bangladesh.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Internet healthcare serving homebound patients in China

Online consultations, pharmaceutical deliveries play vital role during outbreak. One recent rainy day, Wu Hong was waiting at the gate of her residential community in Wuhan, Hubei province. When a deliveryman with a bag of medicine came into sight, she was greatly relieved. Wu’s mother-in-law is a breast-cancer patient and needs to take medicine regularly. Wu’s father suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and inhalers have been in short supply. As the novel coronavirus epidemic grew more serious, Wu wasn’t permitted to take her family to the hospital for drug refills. She was left in a state of restless anxiety. On Feb 26, Wu and her husband saw a news segment on TV saying that the Wuhan government had enabled online reimbursement se

By China Daily
March 13, 2020

India’s Congress suffers setback after key leader defects to BJP

Move by Scindia and 22 legislators could trigger fall of Congress-led govt in central Madhya Pradesh state. The Congress has suffered a political setback following the resignation of Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia and 22 legislators in Madhya Pradesh state, deepening an existential crisis for a party that is struggling for political relevance in modern Indian politics. Mr Scindia, 49, an articulate leader, yesterday joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with legislators loyal to him expected to follow suit. The move could lead to the collapse of the Congress-led Madhya Pradesh government. That would give the BJP a chance to form the government in the Hindi heartland state, which is seen as key objective for

By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020

Chinese Red Cross teams aid Iran’s COVID-19 fight

Humanitarian group to help Iranians with containment measures that worked in China. Voices on the other end of the line cut in and out due to a poor phone connection as officials at the Red Cross Society of China’s headquarters in Beijing attempted to talk to staff members on the ground in Iran on Tuesday morning. As the signal stabilised, the latest developments in controlling the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic in Teheran streamed into a conference room packed with Red Cross managers. Zhou Xiaohang, head of a five-member team-four medics and a Farsi interpreter sent to assist with COVID-19 control in Iran-said Iranians are increasingly taking precautions such as wearing face masks and washing their hands more often.

By China Daily
March 11, 2020

Shortage of Masks, Handwash due to panic- buying: Leave some for everyone

Despite repeated calls by global and local health experts and warnings from government, panic-buying grips the country. Global health experts have warned against hoarding masks, handwash and sanitisers during the coronavirus outbreak as it could worsen the situation by depriving those who might need them. Despite this, panic-buying of these products in Dhaka has been triggered by news of the first confirmed coronavirus cases in the country. Across the capital, several pharmacies and superstores have been facing a shortage of masks, antiseptic liquids and sanitisers since Sunday afternoon. The demand for tissue papers has also almost doubled overnight, some retailers claimed. Many of the retail stores, super shops and pharmacies in Karwan Bazar, M

By Daily Star
March 10, 2020

MH17 trial in Malaysia begins today

It was reported that MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile while flying over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine. The trial will begin today. All eyes will be on the District Court of The Hague at the Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) in Badhoevedorp as the criminal proceeding against four men accused of shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 begins. It was reported that MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile while flying over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board, comprising 43 Malaysians, 193 Dutch nationals and 27 Australians, were killed. Members of the Malaysian media here to cover the start of the trial were given a briefing by press secretary for the judge, Yolande Wijnnobel, on what to expect at the start of the much-awai

By The Star
March 9, 2020

OPINION: ‘Righteous’ women

So who is this ‘righteous’ woman that would never dare join Aurat Marchers? ‘TIS the season to be righteous, or so many prominent Pakistanis on TV and social media along with the religious right would have us believe. Pakistan suffers from hypocritical moral policing at the best of times — in homes, colleges and universities, places of religious worship, and the workplace — but the trigger for the current frenzy is the impending Aurat Marches in many cities of the country. Given that these marches only began three years ago, one can only marvel at how rapidly they have gotten under the proverbial skin of their highly agitated opponents. Enough has been said and written about the wider context of the marches and why they threaten the

By ANN Members
March 6, 2020