Minister of Homeland Security and Technology Ali Ihusaan has stated that only 36 per cent of individuals have paid for the 139,000 permits issued for employment in the Maldives.
This information comes as the government faces criticism for reversing the four-year ban on Bangladeshi labourers, implemented last Sunday.
Former Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail, previously in charge of foreign workers, noted that the decision to admit Bangladeshi workers after reaching the quota specified by the law is unlawful. The law specifies that a maximum of 100,000 foreigners from a single country can enter the Maldives. However, Minister Ihusaan argued that the current number of Bangladeshi labourers uphold this regulation.
Speaking at an emergency press conference, Minister Ihusaan clarified that the immigration’s border control system indicates there are currently 90,624 Bangladeshi nationals in the country, within the limits set by Section 65 of the Employment Act.
Highlighting a change in the government’s approach, Ihusaan explained that they now use the border control system for monitoring, in contrast to the previous administration’s reliance on the expat system for tracking work permits. He mentioned that out of 139,000 work permits issued, only 36 per cent have been paid in the last year.
Ihusaan further explained that an active work permit remains valid until revoked by the employer, with revocation only occurring when the foreign worker leaves the country. He acknowledged that individuals with active work permits might appear in the system while residing abroad.
To address challenges, the minister announced plans for direct fingerprinting to accurately determine the number and status of expatriates in the Maldives, with completion expected in the next year.
Expressing concern about the lack of information on undocumented migrants, Ihusaan noted potential national security risks. He also confirmed the deletion of specific reports on foreigners from the previous government but assured the public that the information would be available on the Homeland Security website.