KATHMANDU, July 26
Manpower agencies reopened their businesses on Sunday, putting an end to their protest against the free visa and ticket provision implemented for outbound workers. They agreed to resume work after sealing a 31-point deal with the government last night.
Many workers scheduled to leave for foreign employment were being held up in the Capital and sectors like airline companies and hotels had been affected due to the 18-day long protest. Manpower agencies agreed to send workers under the free visa and ticket provision after the government agreed to conduct a study whereby it would also explore how the new provision would benefit manpower agencies.
An 11-member team will conduct a study regarding the free visa and ticket provision by visiting the destination countries, according to Surya Prasad Shrestha, acting secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment. He had signed the 31-point deal on behalf of the government. “A joint secretary-level official from MoLE will coordinate the team and it has a mandate to complete the study within three months,” he added.
The deal was signed by Bimal Dhakal, president of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies and NAFEA General Secretary Rohan Gurung on behalf of manpower agencies.
Under the new provision, a worker can leave Nepal for working in seven major labour destinations — Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman — free of cost or a maximum expense of Rs 10,000 only in cases in which employers refuse to pay service charge to manpower agencies.
The 11-member committee will also recommend whether or not manpower agencies need more than Rs 10,000 service fee based on the study. Earlier, the government had fixed a maximum of Rs 80,000 for Malaysia and Rs 70,000 for Gulf nations but many agencies were charging more than the government set rate.
“We will also conduct monitoring and action will be taken against agencies charging more than Rs 10,000,” said Shrestha.
The new free visa and ticket provision, which came into effect on July 6, holds agencies responsible for sending workers only to employers of the seven nations that bear the cost of visa and air ticket of the workers they want to hire. This is expected to cut the demand being sent to Nepal by destination countries. However, only those companies that are capable of funding visa and air ticket will be able to hire workers.
“We have reopened our business and it will take at least two months to bring demands and send workers under the new provision,” said Pragyan Neupane, president of Nepal Democratic Foreign Employment Entrepreneurs Forum. According to him, Nepal has already been receiving a demand of around 50,000 workers annually who are entitled for free visa and ticket facility.
He said the new provision might reduce the demand for Nepali workers, leading to unemployment situation after the festival season.
• An 11-member team to be formed for promotion of free visa and ticket provision
• Guideline for monitoring manpower agencies to be formulated
• Possibility of increasing minimum service fee of Rs 10,000 to be explored
• Government to allow foreign employment for short-term contract of six months
• Foreign Employment Act to be amended
• Orientation training by Department of Foreign Employment
• Diplomatic lobbying to scrap operation of VLN Nepal
• Biometric health check-up to be implemented only if all concerns of Nepal addressed
A version of this article appears in print on July 27, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.