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Is the foreign expert more capable than locals?

For the interests of our sustainable RMG industry, we have to replace the foreign experts with local experts. Otherwise, Bangladesh will remain as a cheap market whereas our products quality is better than that of other competitors.

M M Uddin

Introduction

It is never been a crime to be a foreign expert in a country.  A country hires foreign experts for many reasons. One of the main objectives of hiring foreign specialists is to make the country more prosperous and to compare themselves with developed countries. We had many foreign experts when the Bangladesh garment industry started in the 1980s.

Many foreign professionals are working in the Bangladesh RMG industry
Figure: Many foreign professionals are working in the Bangladesh RMG industry.

But now in 2018, still we are hiring foreign experts whereas lots of local experts are suffering from scarcity of the right position. Last fiscal year we had expended almost 26.31% of our export value for hiring foreign professionals.

We have our own experts

There are 12 government and 26 plus private textile engineering colleges, institutes and universities that are providing B.Sc. engineering courses in Textile that include many important subjects like specialization in yarn manufacturing, fabric manufacturing, wet processing, garments manufacturing and fashion design, marketing, merchandising, human resource management, testing and industrial Engineering etc.

The last couple of years, roughly thirty-five thousand to forty thousand fresh textile graduates have achieved their Bachelor of Science degree. And after that, the fresher are proving their professionalism. Now Bangladesh has a community of experts’ professionals who are showing their expertise in yarn manufacturing, fabric manufacturing, wet processing, garments manufacturing and fashion design, marketing, merchandising, human resource management, testing and industrial Engineering in different national and international brands.

Hiring huge foreign employee

Despite many successes of Bangladeshi experts, India has taken 10 billion dollars in 2017 from Bangladesh reported by different mainstream media. Bangladesh becomes 4th largest remittance source for India, whereas, Bangladesh has fetched total of $13.53 billion remittances in the same year. India remits $ 8.320 billion in 2016 from Bangladesh, which was $4.5 billion in 2014. The remittances were sent through illegal channels but deposited with a declaration to different Indian banks, according to the sources of the Reserve Bank of India. Illegal foreign workers cannot remit money from Bangladesh but the illegal Indians are frequently doing this practice.

Records from different ministries show that around 450,000 foreign nationals, mostly from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan, South Korea, and some European and African countries are currently working in Bangladesh.

Disadvantages we are facing for a foreign employee

Yes, there are some advantages of hiring a foreign employee, but have we ever try to count our losses we are giving every year? A few days ago, Mirza Azam MP, State Minister for Textiles and Jute, said to the Textile Today, “Bangladesh government announced 50 billion USD target for apparel export by 2021. To fulfill this target we need more efficient manpower. It does not make sense that we will hire efficient manpower from India or Sri Lanka and spend our earned money for them.”

Disadvantages of foreign employee in Bangladesh

Here a few disadvantages will be explained:

Government is not getting income tax properly

The remittances were sent through illegal channels but deposited with a declaration to different Indian banks, which is why our country is losing a huge amount of income tax. The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has found that a huge number of foreigners are working at four companies in Bangladesh have not been paying income tax. The foreigners working in Bangladesh have to pay 30% tax on their income. It is estimated that the foreigners remit between $4 billion and $5 billion annually. About 12,000 foreigners receive permission each year to work in Bangladesh, according to Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) data. Only 11,000 instead of 450000 are regularly paying income tax, NBR sources said. With the above data analysis, it can easily be assumed that how much anarchy continues in our industry, including the garment sector, by the foreigners.

Increasing different crime trends through Illegal migrants

Illegal migration is seen as a major cause of increasing different crime trends all over the world. Bangladesh is the most populated country, so it’s easy to comment that any criminal activities by the illegal migrate and our law enforcement agency will not be able to take preventive measure for the sake of unrecorded information.  According to data produced by the Ministry of Home Affairs, as many as 500,000 Indians were staying in Bangladesh illegally in 2009. But the actual figure of illegal Indians and other foreigners in Bangladesh assumed to be one million to date, it was also forecasted by the World Bank and International Migration Organization of United Nations. In 2012, Bangladesh was the fifth among the nations sending highest remittances to India.

The unemployment rate is rising

The unemployment rate in Bangladesh has remained unchanged at 4.20 percent in 2017 from 4.20 percent in 2016. The unemployment rate in Bangladesh averaged 3.85 percent from 1991 until 2017. If we hire our people instead of a foreigner, it will create around a million job, which will eradicate one of the major problems of Bangladesh. And it also saves a big amount of foreign currency that will be transpired a giant investment for factory owners.

Bangladesh government announced 50 billion USD target for apparel export by 2021. To fulfill this target we need more efficient manpower. It does not make sense that we will hire efficient manpower from India or Sri Lanka and spend our earned money for them.

Mirza Azam MP, State Minister for Textiles and Jute

Gradually lowest performance, then Bangladeshi

Earlier, the foreigner’s performance was better than Bangladeshi experts, but nowadays, their performance is not better than the local experts. Several leading apparel manufacturers of Bangladesh, including Sha Sha Denim Ltd, Essential Clothing Ltd, and some LEED certified factory owners said, “Our local experts are doing better than foreign experts in different specific sectors like productions, merchandising, quality control, HRM and industrial engineering. But we need more experts in communication, marketing, compliance, and washing department.”

Negative marketing

Many people think that, as India is our competitor so the people of India never wish success for Bangladesh. However, our factory owners think that a foreign employee can ensure more orders. The reality is different and sometimes it may be a reason for order losing as it is alleged that these foreign experts work for their country’s interest. They help their homeland’s millers to get more business! I do not know how much the allegation is true, but this is really a matter of re-think.

A reliable source from the textile industry said that if we investigate properly, we will find that maximum foreigners have their own business in Bangladesh. When they get any new buyer, they handle it in their own way. Bangladesh is a very trouble-free country for them to catch buyers and shift it to India or start their own business. On the other hand, 25% import tax sectioned by the USA on China. So naturally, business will move in Bangladesh but its credit goes to Indians as they are in the top position.

What should we do?

Most of the factory owners claimed that the Bangladeshi people cannot ensure proper communication with the buyers. Yes, this is true, but this is not the problem of employees rather this is happening because of our education system. I think, after reading 16 years of compulsory English and after that, a student cannot speak English properly, it is a great problem of this education system. If we suffer from a headache, we should not cut our head, rather we should take medicine. So what should we do to solve the problem?

We can make an environment to improve our communication skills. If all responsible persons always talk in English to each other the problem will be solved within 2 to 3 months. Because they already know the language. And of course, our education system should be more effective, practical and modern.

Even after this, if we need more foreign experts, in any particular sector like compliance, IE, quality control etc. We can hire them for a specific period of time and within this time, they will train our local experts in the particular issues and we’ll take consultancy from them until we are capable to handle it in a proper way.

Conclusion

It is really pathetic that foreign experts across Bangladesh often lead a charmed life, earning far more than local counterparts even when they lack in experience and local knowledge. For the interests of our sustainable RMG industry, we have to replace the foreign experts with local experts. Otherwise, Bangladesh will remain as a cheap market whereas our products quality is better than that of other competitors.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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