YADAV RAJ JOSHI
KATHMANDU: Migrant workers spend nearly one-fourth of remittance earning to get foreign jobs.
About 384,665 new migrant workers, who joined foreign jobs in the last fiscal, spent Rs 59.93 billion on service fees charged by outsourcing agencies for employment in Malaysia, the Gulf — Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain — and other countries.
This amounts to about 16.66 per cent of the Rs 359.55 billion remittance earned from migrant workers.
“It reveals that our real earning is just Rs 299.62 billion, said economist Chiranjivi Nepal. “The government should explore more lucrative destinations and jobs,” he said, adding that the expenditure was too high in comparison to remittance earning.
He suggested that the government reduce the cost for joining foreign jobs and enhance the capacity of Nepali workers. “We are exporting unskilled or semi-skilled workers. We can double our remittance, if we export trained manpower,” he said.
Outsourcing agencies have been charging more service fees and other charges than prescribed by the government . For instance, the Department of Foreign Employment has set Rs 70,000 as service fee for Gulf countries and Rs 80,000 for Malaysia, but the current market price is Rs 110,000 and Rs 130,000 for Gulf countries and Malaysia respectively.
Migrant workers are paying up to six times more than the prescribed amount for lucrative destinations like Israel and Cyprus. Workers in Israel earn $1,200 (Rs 100,800) a month and $650 (Rs 54, 600) in Cyprus.
The cost of getting jobs as per the government rate is just Rs 31.59 billion — about 8.78 per cent of the remittance income. But because of weak monitoring, outsourcing agencies and their agents have been overcharging.
“Blaming outsourcing agencies is not fair,” said secretary of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies Subarna Shrestha. The service cost was fixed 10 years ago and it must be revised, she added. “The government must explore other job destinations and provide training to migrant workers as per the global demand.”
A lot must to be done, she said, suggesting that a framework for migrant workers be developed with alternative job plans.