HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Outsourcing agencies and their agents have cheated over Rs 1 billion from foreign job aspirants despite their promises to be responsible and the government plan to control fraudulent activities.
The Department of Foreign Employment recorded 1,898 fraud cases with claims of about Rs 1.04 billion in 11 months of the current fiscal year, the department’s data revealed.
Outsourcing fraud cases have been rising sharply in recent years. The department had recorded 1,012 fraud cases during the same period last year. About 722 outsourcing fraud cases were recorded in fiscal year 2009-10.
The data revealed that outsourcing fraud cases have increased by 46.68 per cent in the last one year. It has raised questions on the efficiency of regulatory agencies and the ethics of people involved in the sector.
At the first glance of the data, labour expert Dr Chiranjivi Nepal questioned on whether we were controlling or promoting fraud. “It is a complete failure of the regulatory agencies. The data does not show their presence in the market,” he said, “It does not show that the government is committed towards protecting people.”
He also blamed outsourcing agencies for not being responsible in fair business. “Registered outsourcers are directly involved in 725 fraud cases which is an alarming situation,” he commented. According to him, urgent steps must be taken to control the growing ills in the sector.
More than 11,000 foreign job aspirants have been cheated by outsourcing agencies across the country. According to the department, most of the people who were cheated were poor and living in remote villages.
Outsourcing agencies have a large agents-based network and are fuelling fraud in the sector. “Agents make big promises to people and trap them,” said an investigation officer at the department. According to him, the department could not track their agents as they are no records.
Only a dozen of the 1,136 outsourcing agencies have registered their agents at the department. “Therefore, the number of individual cases is higher in the records but most of them have close ties with agencies,” the officer said. About 1,173 cases have been registered in the department against individual agents.
However, outsourcers do not accept the charge that they have close ties with agents based across the country. “Most outsourcers don’t have agents. Individuals who facilitate the process cannot be identified as agents,” said president of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies Bal Bahadur Tamang.
“If there is a tie between individual frauds and outsourcing agencies, then the regulatory agencies must prove it and punish them,” he said. The association will help the department in the issue, he added.
The government has formed a high level committee under Dr Ganesh Gurung to suggest reforms in the foreign employment sector. The committee had suggested a 30-point reform programme in November 2011 but it has not been enforced strongly.
“Controlling fraud is still a challenge. It can’t be reduced without reforms at the department,” said Gurung.