Gov’t Struggles to Track Foreign Worker Data

Minister of Homeland Security and Technology Ali Ihusaan revealed a concerning discrepancy in the nation’s foreign worker records. Currently, 135,149 active work permits have been granted to Bangladeshi workers, yet only 39,004 of those permits have regular payments associated with them. This indicates the potential presence of a vast number of undocumented workers residing in the Maldives.

Minister Ihsan clarified that the border control system shows a significant number of foreign workers departing the Maldives. However, many employers appear to have neglected the necessary steps of cancelling work permits or completing formal transactions with government agencies after workers leave. This creates the ambiguous “Missing” status, where an individual cannot be confirmed as having departed the country.

- Advertisement -

The Minister further explained that active work permits can include those issued for workers who are yet to arrive in the Maldives. Such permits remain active until formally cancelled by the employer.

The recent resumption of Bangladeshi worker recruitment has led to 5,400 new work permits being issued, 4,000 of which have been utilized by workers who have arrived in the Maldives.

Consequences for the Economy

Undocumented workers can pose substantial challenges to a nation’s economy. They often operate outside of regulated labour standards, which can lead to depressed wages and poor working conditions for workers across the board. Additionally, undocumented workers become ineligible for government services and protections, creating vulnerable populations. Their presence also makes it difficult for the government to accurately track economic data and workforce statistics, hindering effective planning and policy decisions.

Call for Reform

This situation highlights the urgent need for reforms within the Maldives’ worker documentation and management systems. Stronger legislative backing and more coordinated information sharing between government institutions are crucial to ensure the accurate tracking of foreign workers and protect the nation’s economic well-being.

- Advertisement -