KATHMANDU: Till date, only 103 returnees have claimed compensation at the Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB). The board has paid them the compensation also. The number is far less than expected, though the number of returnees from Malaysia and Gulf countries crossed 3000.

“We have very little pressure for compensation,” said board under-secretary Mukund Adhikari. The recession has not made a huge impact on Nepali labourers in Malaysia — the most favoured labour destination.

“It came to our notice that foreign employment agencies have also been solving cases,” Adhikari informed. FEPB takes up the cases only after foreign employment agencies fail to settle them. In January, the Ministry of Labour and Transport Management (MoLTM) had fixed 40 per cent compensation for those who return after six months and 25 per cent compensation for those who return after a year.

Under the scheme, 103 returnees received Rs 7,98,800 from FEPB and an equal amount from foreign employment agencies. The 88 Nepali migrant workers who returned from Malaysia received Rs 6,79,800 whereas 14 Saudi Arabia returnees received Rs 1,05,000 and one returnee from Qatar received Rs 14,000.

However, the decreasing rate of Nepalis migrant workers going aboard indicates that hard time are coming. Last September, every day 656 Nepalis used to fly to foreign countries but last month, the daily number dropped to 402.

“We are expecting harder times after June,” said Adhikari. To brace for that, FEPB has doubled the amount of Foreign Worker Welfare Fund that was given as Rs 500 per person by the workers going abroad. “We are collecting Rs 1,000 per person since April 15,” he informed.

FEPB has also been providing Rs 1,00,000 each to families of migrant workers who died aboard. It has provided the amount to 26 families till date. “Due to problems in bringing the dead bodies, the department itself brought two dead bodies back from aboard,” he said.

Likewise, FEPB helped in sending six bodies to their relatives in the district and provided Rs 30,000 each to two migrant labours who became handicapped during their work abroad.

Meanwhile, FEPB has forwarded 27 applications of compensation to the ministry. “The department has forwarded the applications as it has no mandate to compensate those who left Nepal before the establishment of the compensation fund,” Adhikari added. The compensation fund was set up last February.

Though the global economic meltdown has hit destination countries, not as many Nepali migrant workers in those countries were laid off as expected.