Migrant workers found working as cashiers will be deported immediately, the department of immigration has warned. A “special raid operation” has been launched in Malé today to identify expatriate cashiers.
The immigration department said foreign cashiers are “doing unlawful work” due to a ban prohibiting foreigners from working as cashiers and photographers in the Maldives.
Some 16 migrant workers are currently in police custody for the offence.
Action will also be taken against the employer, the department said in a press release today.
Some 22 businesses were each fined MVR2,000 (US$130) in May for employing foreigners as cashiers.
Immigration and police officials have now begun conducting surprise visits to shops, cafes and restaurants in Malé.
The ban took effect in April 1, in an attempt by the government to boost employment among local young people, almost a third of whom are jobless.
But overseas workers can still be seen working as cashiers. Some employers said they had trouble finding young Maldivians to fill the roles.
Some 26.5 per cent of Maldivians aged 15 to 24 are unemployed, according to World Bank figures from 2013, the most recent figures available.
President Abdulla Yameen pledged to create 95,000 jobs in his five-year term. He said 17,000 jobs were created within his first year, and claimed credit, but did not provide details.
The economic development ministry said it is offering free training programs in collaboration with businesses for Maldivians wishing to be cashiers.
Some 124,000 migrant workers are thought to be working in the Maldives. More than 30,000 of them are undocumented and many are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.
The Maldives was placed back on the US State Department’s tier 2 watch list for human trafficking last week over lack of progress in the government’s anti-human trafficking efforts. If downgraded to tier 3, the lowest tier, Maldives may be subject to non-humanitarian and non-trade sanctions.
By May, some 1,953 undocumented workers deported in 12 operations conducted in 2015. More than 8,800 undocumented workers were deported last year, the immigration department said.