Kathmandu, February 16
At a time when a large number of Nepalis are leaving the country for employment, the number of foreigners taking work permits to work in the country is on the rise.
As per the Department of Labour (DoL), 906 expats took work permit from the government to work in different sectors in the first five months of the ongoing fiscal year (2017-18), while 449 foreigners renewed their work permits.
During the same period in fiscal 2016-17, DoL had issued work permits to 437 expats and renewed work permits of 175 foreigners in the country.
However, the actual number of non-Nepalis working in the country is expected to be far higher as many foreigners are believed to be working in different sectors without taking work permits from the government.
“As Nepal lacks skilled and technical manpower for development activities, it is the country’s obligation to bring in skilled human resources from abroad. As a result of this, the number of foreigners seeking work permits to work in different sectors and projects in the country is on the rise,” said Laxman Prasad Mainali, secretary at the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE).
He further said that the expats seeking work permits in Nepal are highly skilled, unlike the Nepalis who have been leaving the country for job opportunities.
According to Mainali, there are a few Nepali migrant workers who travel abroad and sharpen their skills and technical knowledge but they do not prefer to return to their homeland and contribute to the development activities, which is why Nepal sorely lacks enough skilled human resources.
However, Mainali also expressed suspicion that many expats working in the country are yet to approach the government for work permits even though the law requires any foreigner coming to Nepal for work to obtain a work permit.
The government had introduced ‘Guideline for Work Permit Management of Non-Nepali Employees 2014’ and made it mandatory for foreigners to take work permit. However, the number of foreigners approaching the government for work permit is considerably low following ineffective implementation of the enacted law.
Meanwhile, Mainali said that the government is in the final stage of drafting the Labour Guideline and its endorsement will be crucial to compel all expats to take work permit from the government.
Currently, DoL has been inspecting foreign expats only on the basis of complaints that the department receives sporadically.
As per DoL, a majority of expats taking work permit from the government are working in the construction sector, while a few are engaged in hydropower, hospitality, education and banking sectors.
A version of this article appears in print on February 17, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.