Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Bangladesh’s overseas employment has suffered yet another blow as the Maldives has stopped hiring Bangladeshi workers after growing cases of overstay by Bangladeshis holding tourist visas, officials said.

After a request from Male, the state-run Manpower Bureau, which processes foreign employment, stopped issuing fresh approval to Bangladeshis seeking jobs in the Indian Ocean state, they said.

“The process of issuing approval against demand letters was suspended Thursday. It will be valid until further notice,” an official at the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) was quoted by The Financial Express, a local newspaper, as saying.

Official estimates have put the number of Bangladeshis living in the Maldives at 15,000, but people involved in overseas recruitment say another 15000 are working there with no legal permits.

Bureau officials said Bangladeshis enter the island state with “port of entry” visas, but they never come back and tend to work there without any legal permits.

The bad news came at a time when Bangladesh’s major overseas job markets began foundering as a result of the worst recession in a generation. Recession scrimped demand of foreign workers.

The Maldives was supposed to hire around 30,000 Bangladeshi workers over the next few years as the island-state had launched new construction work, fuelled by its billion dollar-plus tourism industry, according to reports.

Overseas migration is linked to Bangladesh’s recent growth story, with workers’ money-known as remittances-accounting for around 10 per cent of the country’s GDP.

Bangladesh is among top 10 remittance recipient nations in the world, according to the World Bank, and an officially estimated 6.5 million overseas Bangladeshis remitted home $9.7 billion in 2009 fiscal.

BBN/SS/SI/AD-31October09-1:00 pm (BST)