Managing migration better can boost growth in Asean

Managing migration better can boost growth in Asean”

To build on this status, the WB said the Philippines should continue to evaluate and improve its migration management system, including oversight of recruitment agencies, programs for returned migrants, and data sharing and interoperability.

Many low-skilled and often undocumented migrants move in search of economic opportunity, mainly in the construction, plantation, and domestic services sectors.

Sudhir Shetty, the WB's chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific, told Khmer Times that Southeast Asia stands out on the global scene when it comes to the movement of people across worldwide borders. "Inappropriate policies and ineffective institutions mean that the region is missing opportunities to gain fully from migration", he said.

Migration among the 10 ASEAN member countries has risen over the two decades since 1995, so that there are now 6.89 million intra-regional migrants in the region.

In the Philippines, the World Bank noted that studies have found that households that were able to send a member overseas have a two-fold or three-fold greater odds of escaping poverty.

In the report, the World Bank suggested Malaysia to draw up an immigration system that is more responsive to economic needs and to collaborate more closely with both employers and sending countries.

"However, progress on implementing regional commitments related to labour mobility has been limited", the report said.

It was reported that the World Bank disputed the goal of the levy, and that the responsibility for payment had gone back and forth from foreign workers in the 1990s to 2000s, to employers in 2009, and back to the workers in 2013, suggesting a "lack of consensus" on the levy's objective. To date, he said the Philippines "seems to deny that [the Philippines is] actually exporting labor". The report also recommends that it consider a national migration strategy to guide reforms.

"While we have enumerated eight possible directions for overseas Filipinos' resources, there is much more work to be done-especially in crafting a migration for development plan for the Philippines, one that values the overseas Filipino and that directs their resources and energies to equitable, rights-based, and, hopefully, far-reaching development", Opiniano said.

The Asean Economic Community has taken steps to ease such movements, like standardising qualifications, the bank noted.

These restrictive policies are partly influenced by the perception that an influx of migrants would have negative impacts on receiving economies, the report highlighted.

These barriers include costly and lengthy recruitment processes, restrictive quotas on the number of foreign workers allowed in a country and rigid employment policies.

The movement of workers within Asean has increased significantly over the last 20 years, with Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand acting as their main destinations, according to the latest report from the World Bank (WB).

"Improvement in the migration process can ease these costs on prospective migrants and help countries respond better to their labour market needs", he said.

Indonesia, Myanmar and Malaysia send the most migrants to other ASEAN countries, with Myanmar having sent out 2.2 million migrants.

In Vietnam, remittances make up seven percent of GDP, while in Myanmar and Cambodia they account for five and three percent, respectively.

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