135,149 work permits for Bangladeshis; only 39,004 in compliance

An expatriate worker working aboard a Maldivian vessel. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Home Minister Ali Ihusan, underscoring there are 135,149 work permits issued for unskilled laborers from Bangladesh recruited to work in the Maldives that are active at present, states the work permit fee is being paid in line with the regulations for just 39,004 of them.

Ihavandhoo MP Mohamed Shifaau questioned Minister Ihusan on the recruitment of laborers from Bangladesh at Wednesday’s parliamentary sitting. The Minister shared various details regarding the matter while responding to MP Shifaau and other lawmakers

In this regard, the Minister placed the number of Bangladeshi laborers as of December 17, 2023, at 90,624. However, he stressed that 135,149 active work permits have been issued.

“Where the laborer has yet to arrive in the Maldives under this work permits are also considered as active work permits. If a laborer came to the Maldives and left, yet the company has not canceled the permit, it will also be considered as an active work permit,” he explained.

Minister of Homeland Security and Technology Ali Ihusan answers questions at the parliament on March 20, 2024. (Photo/People's Majlis)

“As said earlier, many of these individuals have left the Maldives when checked via the border control system,” he added.

Minister Ihusan said a total of 5,400 permits were issued to recruit laborers from Bangladesh after the ban on recruitment of unskilled laborers from Bangladesh was lifted. However, only 4,000 laborers had arrived in the Maldives, he noted.

The law caps the number of unskilled laborers that can be recruited from a single country at 100,000.

Underscoring that the number of Bangladeshi laborers is on the rise at present, Minister Ihusan said it is likely that the number will reach 100,000 within the next four months or so.

Speaking further, the Minister said the administration's goal is to formulate a database for expatriate workers within a year as illegal migrants remain a prevalent issue in the Maldives. In this trajectory, he detailed that the administration aims to collect the fingerprints of migrants across all islands and compile them on a database.

Access to this database will be provided to councils and police stations, Minister Ihusan noted, adding the authorities will be provided fixed and mobile devices so they may identify migrants by scanning their fingerprints.

He said illegal migrants identified throughout these efforts will be granted the opportunity to become legalized. He affirmed that the administration will deport all migrants who still fail to become legalized.