High Commission in Dhaka closes due to “unprecedented fiscal problems”

The Maldives High Commission in Bangladesh has closed its operations, with acting high commissioner Ahmed Adil reportedly citing “unprecedented fiscal problems”.

“Even the foreign ministry’s budget has been slashed by 40 percent,” he told the Bangladeshi media. “It’s a very big cut.”

Adil stated that despite the closure, the excellent bilateral relations Maldives and Bangladesh would continue, and that an alternative arrangement would be sought to bridge the absence of a mission in Dhaka.

An unnamed source from the commission also told the Dhaka Tribune that severe budgetary constraints had prompted the shutdown, suggesting that diplomatic services would continue to be provided from New Delhi.

In a comment piece produced earlier this week, former Bangladeshi High Commissioner to the Maldives Professor Selina Mohsin described the decision as a “wrong move”.

“Diplomatic continuity is a necessity and reciprocity is essential to foster good relations with a friendly Saarc state. But countries are not always ruled by rational consideration of advantages, but often by unthinking foolhardiness.

High Commissioner between 2008 and 2010, Mohsin argued that the Dhaka mission played an important role in strengthening the bond between the island nation and Bangladesh.

“Bangladesh has over 70,000 migrant workers in the Maldives – more than from India or Sri Lanka. They face dubious recruitment procedures, their passports are seized by unscrupulous brokers on arrival, and often wages are withheld,” she argued.

Minivan News was awaiting a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which failed to be published at the time of press.

A World Bank report produced late last year suggested that excessive state expenditure risked derailing the economy. Over seventy percent of the current budget is allocated for recurrent expenditure.

Similarly, the departing MMA governor urged the government to reduce expenditure. After proposing a record MVR17.95 billion budget in December last year – later passed – the MMA’s published response called for cuts that included a reduction in state apparatus to reflect the country’s size and income.

The Bangladeshi High Commission, opened in 2008, was one of the Maldives’ 13 overseas diplomatic missions. The country currently has embassies in China, Saudi Arabia, and Japan, with high commissions in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

The country also has permanent missions representing the country in Brussels, Geneva, and New York.

Estimates of migrant workers currently in the Maldives range from 70,000 to as high as 110,000 with undocumented workers estimated to be as high as 44,000.

Employment trafficking scams and fraudulent recruitment it is nearly impossible to reach a conclusive number.

The Department of Immigration and Emigration recently revealed that, in an effort to curb the numbers of illegal workers, it is strengthening action taken against those who employ or provide housing for undocumented migrant individuals.

It was also revealed that a voluntary repatriation scheme for undocumented workers had seen 4,400 workers out of 5,134 that registered for the programme leaving the Maldives since December.


Bangladesh embarrassed by Maldives’ decision to deport workers: Financial Express

Dhaka-based newspaper the Financial Express has published an editorial stating that the decision of the Maldivian authorities to deport illegal Bangladeshi nationals “should be considered quite embarrassing for Bangladesh.”

“However, the incidence of deportation of illegal Bangladeshi workers from the countries of the Middle East, South East Asia and Europe is not infrequent. It does take place within or beyond the knowledge of the authorities concerned in Dhaka. But the issue of deportation is neither taken seriously nor does it give rise to any feeling of embarrassment here.

“According to the Maldivian foreign minister, the number of Bangladeshis in his country is around 50,000 now and one-third of them are either working or staying there illegally. The minister has urged Dhaka to take appropriate steps to stop illegal migration to the Maldives, which, he said has become a thriving business for unscrupulous manpower recruiting agencies.

“Remittances coming from such illegal workers has been not without a cost. The illegal workers, who generally enter carrying tourist visas and overstay, are not liked by the authorities of the countries where they are employed. This has created a sort of image problem for Bangladesh in the outside world.

“The issue of illegal Bangladeshi workers loudly indicates two factors – lack of employment opportunities at home and highhandedness of the unscrupulous manpower agents.

“The government, however, if it desires so, can, at least, deal with rogue manpower agents who lure unsuspecting unskilled workers and send them abroad with false visas or work permits. Such illegal workers do always remain vulnerable to police torture and many other dangers.

“Death stalks them while they try to enter countries in Europe or Southeast Asia illegally using sea or land routes. But the authorities here other than cancellation of a few licences have done nothing to mete out strong punishment to evil manpower agents. Exemplary punishment, it is felt, would help curb the sending of workers abroad with forged documents, to a large extent.”

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Maldives’ football champs invited to inaugural South Asia club tournament

The Maldives is expected to be among eight nations taking part in an inaugural club football tournament scheduled for later this year under the auspices of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF).

This season’s Maldivian champions will be invited along with their counterparts in Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Afghanistan to face off in a competition taking place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, between September 1 and September 15. These teams are expected to be joined by the top two sides from the national leagues of India and Bangladesh.

According to India-based newspaper, the Calcutta Telegraph, local governing body the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has claimed to have agreed to the scheduled dates for the tournament, yet added that the actual details of the competition are still to be decided.


VTV presenter injured in Dhaka

A Villa TV (VTV) journalist has broken her wrist after the scaffolding she was filming on collapsed.

Aishath Usvathu was part of a VTV team broadcasting the SAAF games at Bangladesh.

According to Haveeru, Usvathu is being treated at the Scare Hospital in Dhaka and will soon be transfered to Apollo Hospital in Dhaka.

An Afghanistan cameraman who was also with Usvathu was injured.