Crisis impact slow but sure on migrant labour

KATHMANDU: The global economic meltdown has not affected Nepali labour markets abroad so much as predicted, government data show. According to the Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB), only 193 returnees affected by global crisis have claimed compensation so far.

However, experts and authorities don’t agree to it. The declining number of labourers bound for major destination countries shows the reality, said undersecretary Mukunda Adhikari. The number of Nepali blue-collar jobseekers has significantly reduced in crisis-hit countries — Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar.

According to the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE), the Nepali labour market abroad has reduced by 12.80 per cent in 2008-09 compare to the

preceding year. Around

2,17,164 Nepalis had gone to more than four dozen countries last year. The number of Nepali labourers going to Malaysia, the UAE and Qatar has fallen by 15,484 (30.62 per cent), 13,674 (30.11 per cent) and 9,267

(10.84 per cent), respectively.

“We have minimized the effect with the help of outsourcing agencies,” Adhikari said. Most of the foreign employment agencies themselves paid the compensation, he added. The Ministry of Labour and Transport Management (MoLTM) has decided to provide compensation to the returnees from Malaysia and Gulf countries in March. FEPB has paid Rs 16,09,686.

Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies president Tilak Ranabhat echoed Adhikari view and explained, “It is the collective effort of outsourcing agencies, employment companies and the government that has minimised the impact of the crisis.” According to Ranabhat, Nepali foreign employment agencies have been supportive of outbound labourers.

Moreover, FEPB has helped bring back 96 dead bodies of Nepali workers. “We spent Rs 9.6 million in bringing back the dead bodies,” a board official said. FEPB also helped seven families to take the dead bodies of their kin to their home districts from Kathmandu by giving them an additional Rs 1,32,150.

The board returned orientation fees of Rs 700 each to 178 women migrant workers which they had paid before going abroad.