The High Court yesterday expressed dissatisfaction over the slow progress of investigation by an inter-ministerial committee into allegations of monopoly practised by 10 recruiting agencies engaged in hiring Bangladeshi workers for Malaysia. It warned the members of the probe body that would face contempt of court if they failed to submit the investigation report by November 14. The HC bench, comprising Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Md Ashraful Kamal, issued the warning as the probe body failed to submit the investigation report yesterday in line with the court’s previous order.
Earlier, on June 26, the HC bench had directed the committee, formed as per its earlier directive, to submit its probe report by July 18. But the committee is yet to submit the report.
During yesterday’s proceedings, Barrister Rashna Imam stood for the writ petitioner, while Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan represented the ACC.
Barrister Rashna Imam, counsel for the writ petitioner, told reporters that the government had formed the nine-member probe team that included an ACC representative on February 10 this year to investigate allegations of irregularities and corruption levelled against 10 recruitment agencies. The committee is yet to submit the report. Hence, the HC bench specified the timeframe of submitting the report.
On October 29 last year, the HC had directed the government to form an inter-ministerial committee to investigate the monopoly of 10 recruiting agencies and submit the probe report within six months. It had given the order and rule following a writ petition filed by Abdul Alim, owner of a recruiting agency and ten other recruitment agencies.
A syndicate of 10 recruiting agencies was formed after Bangladesh and Malaysia signed a hiring deal—G-to-G Plus—in early 2016. The syndicate created a total monopoly in sending workers to Malaysia.
As per the recruitment deal, the hiring cost was set at Tk. 37,500 a person, but it was later revised to Tk. 160,000 on June 14 last year.
The actual recruitment cost, however, eventually went up to around Tk. 400,000. Under the G-to-G Plus deal, over two lakh Bangladeshis have gone to Malaysia since early 2017. However, Malaysia has suspended labour recruitment from Bangladesh since September 1 this year following allegations that the syndicate was charging high recruitment fees and exploiting migrant workers.