A motion filed at Parliament has alleged that the Mohamed Muizzu administration acted illegally when it re-opened the recruitment of unskilled workers, or workers with specialised skills, from Bangladesh and split the employment mandate between two ministries.

The motion filed by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Thulhaadhoo, Hisaan Hussain, alleges that the administration violated legal provisions that limited the entry of unskilled workers from any one country to under a certain number. According to the Employment Act, the maximum number of unskilled workers from any one country allowed to work in the Maldives at any given time is limited to 100,000.

Hussain noted that, according to the Foreign Labor Statistics and Expat System report, the number of active work permits issued to unskilled workers from Bangladesh exceeded 139,000.

“…while the maximum number of unskilled labourers that can be brought to Maldives from a country is stated to be 100,000, the latest Foreign Labor Statistics and Expat System Report 2023 released by the administration shows that there are currently 139,220 Bangladeshi active work permit holders in Maldives,” Hussain said in her filing.

The splitting of the Employment Act mandate between the Ministry of Homeland Security and Technology, and the Ministry of Higher Education, Labour and Skills Development was also illegal, Hussain posited.

According to Article 65(a) of the Employment Act, a maximum of 100,000 employees can be brought to Maldives from any one country. According to the latest figures released by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, 139,220 Bangladeshis work in Maldives.

However, the administration, citing figures from the immigration border control system, has argued that there are currently 90,624 Bangladeshi workers employed in the Maldives.

According to official immigration data, there are 63,000 illegal immigrants in the Maldives. However, unofficial estimates put the figure closer to 100,000.