Economic Development Minister Fayyaz Ismail said on Wednesday evening that 24,000 expatriate workers have been sent back to their home countries under the expat regularization program conducted by the ministry.
In a ceremony held to open a job center in Raa Alifushi, Fayyaz said not regulating the job market as required lead to an increase in undocumented workers in Maldives. The work done by this administration to provide a solution to this issue had been successful, he said.
Shortly after this work was kickstarted, it was disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though they faced difficulties in collecting information, Fayyaz believes the work is now heading in the right direction.
Minister Fayyaz said 43,000 undocumented expatriates registered when the opportunity was provided. So far nearly 10,000 people have voluntarily returned to their home countries as well.
He further said that nearly 15,000 documented expatriate workers registered under this program and left Maldives voluntarily. A total of 24,000 workers have so far returned to their countries under this program.
"We believe this program is going successfully. Seven of our teams are still working on this," Fayyaz said.
According to the projections released by National Bureau of Statistics in July, the population of Maldives is estimated to be 568,362. Out of the projected 182,666 expatriates estimated to live in Maldives, Bureau of Statistics said around 138,728 people were working.
Fayyaz said they have decreased the quota of foreigners by 55 percent, compared to the quota allowed by the previous administration in 2018.
The problems the job market face in Maldives can be solved by creating better regulations and implementing them correctly.
The job center will also help to connect potential employers and employees as well. Suitable job opportunities will be sent to the people registered under the job center.
He also said they were working on establishing a minimum wage in Maldives as well. Noting that they are overdue from when they had initially said they would introduce it, he said it will be done soon.