KATHMANDU: Much better provisions have been introduced to brighten the prospect of foreign employment in the year 2075/76 in comparison to last years. Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security has taken extra efforts to initiate the reforms in the area of foreign employment by making it well organized and dignified with better security attached to it.
It looks paradoxical when the concerned ministry is working in direction of improving upon the conditions of foreign employment and same has been even declared in the financial year 2075/76 BS with no proportionate betterment in life conditions of Nepalese workforce toiling in a foreign land — the saga of same painful narrations deserve to receive sympathetic treatment. Nothing much has changed for the Nepalese workers on the ground but Ministry claims to have a big change in its policy and declare the same in the financial bill of the current fiscal year.
Gokarna Bista, Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Security, exerting his authority had assured all those Nepalese workers who are looking for foreign employment not to get distressed any more in hands of dishonest agents and unscrupulous manpower agencies. He took a bold stance by making an announcement that foreign employment needs to come out all clean with dignity attached to it by clearing all the dust of cheating, bribing and circumventing the existing laws sticking to the wheeling and dealing with the Nepalese workforce looking to go abroad for a job.
Howsoever bold and dashing Gokarna Bista appeared on the issue in hand, pains and sufferings of Nepalese workforce have not reduced as it is business as usual for these laborious class dependent upon their labor and grits they show on foreign land. Minister loud mouth speech in which he went as far as manufacturing cannons in the country in order to employ the Nepalese youth is simply unable to show where and how the conditions for Nepalese workers already working in foreign land or those who are under process to fly to foreign countries for jobs are better now or have just improved more than what it was earlier.
A lot still to go, challenges ahead in executing the policy
As per the policy framework worked upon by the Ministry of labor, four countries Malaysia, Japan, Mauritius, and UAE were singled out for entering into a specific agreement on foreign employment for safeguarding the interests of Nepalese workers. It has been hailed as a step in the right direction to organize the foreign destinations where Nepalese workforce goes for work. The financial year 2075/76 has also seen second labor agreement with South Korea while Nepal exchanged the draft of a labor agreement with Qatar and Oman. The Government of Nepal has begun exercise to bring a further amendment to the Foreign Employment Act in order to make it more up-to-date, relevant and visionary in the interest of Nepalese workers. For example, issues like increase in reserve money kept by manpower agency, division of regulatory powers to control manpower agencies being given to local self-government.
Visa certification by foreign embassies and issuance of labor permit by each province of Nepal are other important decisions taken by the government. Ministry of Labor has also operationalized a call center to address the grievances and sort out the problems of Nepalese workers aspiring to go abroad or already working in a foreign land. Similarly, the concerned ministry of labor and employment has gone online to bring ease and convenience in all the matters related to foreign employment. The ministry has made it sure that Nepalese citizens should get labor permit from their own province where they are putting up if they plan to fly abroad for jobs.
In case they are found short of required skills, the Ministry of Labor and Department of Foreign Employment will arrange for them skills training and orientation program in order to raise their stake in foreign employment. It is to be noted here that the government has made it compulsory for every aspirant of the foreign job to get equipped with a minimum level of skills to raise their prospect of employability in the foreign lands to reduce the chances of physical and mental exploitation outside the country. The delegation and distribution of powers for issuing the labor permits has reduced the massive inflow of people from all across the country to Kathmandu as they can approach the local level administration for the same now.
Mahesh Prasad Dahal, Secretary at the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, says that Nepalese workforce going abroad are more experienced and skills in the financial year 2075/76 compared to earlier years. He assures that foreign employment will no more witness the instances of exploitation, cheating, mental harassment, bribe, and deception because the government has worked hard to clean up the room and sanitized the whole system to make the labor market much more organized. The government has now taken up full responsibility for Nepalese workers right from the point of sending them up to their protection of all rights in foreign lands while they are working there till they return safely to their motherland.
Problems of Nepalese workers still lying unaddressed
The government is lax on implementation of ‘Free Visa and Free Ticket’ which was announced as early as 4 years ago. Nepalese workers heading abroad have not received any benefit under the scheme. The conditions of Nepalese workers are not any better than they were before. Foreign-bound workers heading to Malaysia and Gulf countries are still getting cheated and exploited in the hands of manpower agencies. That labor agreement with Malaysia, Japan, and Mauritius is in place have not helped initiate the process of sending Nepalese workers there adversely affecting at least one lac (1, 00000) of them.
Ganesh Gurung, an expert on foreign employment, says that it is a challenging task to implement all the reforms and initiatives that the government intends because Nepalese workforce is not experiencing any such change at ground level. There are third parties in the system acting as middle-men letting the whole system exploit the poor Nepalese workers to make all the poorer. We must end this system of middlemen working behind the scenes but are front-runners in sabotaging the transparent functioning of the system owning no responsibility for their work, warns the Gurung. Nepalese workers grieve over the issue showing their frustration over the inability of the Government of Nepal not taking any action in this matter.
Major achievements in year 2075/76 BS in area of foreign employment
Increase of the reserve money to be paid by the manpower agency provisioned in the amended act of Foreign Employment Act, 2064 BS.
Introduction of compulsory 3-months training for foreign job aspirants
Skill certification by the Government of Nepal.
Call center operation and online system are now fully functional in the area of foreign employment.
All the agencies which were involved in cheating the Malaysia-bound Nepalese workers have been nabbed and discontinued.
Second labor agreement with South Korea
Labor agreement with Japan
Labor agreement with Mauritius but implementation pending
Labor agreement with UAE
Labor permits to be issued by each province of Nepal
Embassies are entitled to certify the VISA now.
Embassies are within their power to renew the labor permits in foreign countries (but implementation is awaiting).