The Mohamed Muizzu administration is moving to eliminate the legislative cap on the number of migrant workers from a single country, explicitly aiming to allow more workers from Bangladesh, Minister of Homeland Security and Technology Ali Ihusaan has revealed. This cap, set at 100,000 unskilled workers, was established by a previous amendment under the administration of the now-opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Minister Ihusaan made the announcement during a meeting of the parliamentary committee on national security on Tuesday, in response to inquiries from North Maafannu MP Mohamed Nazim, a former defense minister and member of the Muizzu administration-aligned Maldives National Party (MNP).

Minister Ihusaan expressed the administration’s viewpoint, stating, “I believe that, upon considering the present need for foreign labour and projecting future demands, the restriction on 100,000 Bangladeshi migrant workers must be lifted. Nevertheless, in doing so, I think that we should not proceed without implementing additional safeguards.”

Supporting the revocation of the limit, MP Nazim highlighted the necessity of foreign labour to bolster the Maldives’ industries and augment the workforce. He criticised the existing cap as discriminatory, especially towards a regional country like Bangladesh, saying, “I consider it discriminatory to impose a limit on the entry of migrant workers into the Maldives for employment, particularly from a country within this region.”

To address potential concerns arising from lifting the cap, Minister Ihusaan outlined steps the government intends to take, including implementing a system to ensure 100 percent biometric accountability of foreign workers. The government also plans to introduce an island-specific permit for migrant workers, alongside the existing government-issued permit, he added.

“We are committed to implementing essential modifications to the system in the upcoming three weeks. Once this is accomplished and quotas [for Bangladeshi migrant workers] are reinstated, we anticipate reaching the 100,000 limit swiftly. At that juncture, we will be compelled to put forth a proposal to parliament for the removal of the limit.” Ihusaan elaborated.

The former MDP-led government had suspended the issuance of work permits for unskilled labour from Bangladesh as part of a comprehensive approach to combat illegal immigration. However, the present administration overturned this policy decision until the quota limit of 100,000 was reached.