Manpower firms to be barred from appointing agents

Kathmandu, September 7

Manpower firms will from now on not be allowed to appoint agents in the destination countries of migrant workers and also within the country. The draft of the amended Foreign Employment Act obtained by The Himalayan Times, says manpower firms need to open branches instead of appointing agents.

The new draft of the law has removed the provision of appointing agents in the labour destinations as well as within the country that had been provisioned by the Foreign Employment Act, 2007.

The amended draft of the law has mentioned that manpower firms must open branches for the purpose of marketing in the destination country. Similarly, branch offices will also be mandatory within the country to select foreign job aspirants.

Largely, manpower agencies have been relying on agents to bring in demand from destination countries. They have also been mobilising agents within the country to bring foreign job aspirants from various parts of the country to their offices to select workers to send them for foreign jobs.

Agents within the country have time and again been blamed for swindling money from foreign job aspirants by lying to the workers about better jobs in the destination countries. In destination countries too, it has been reported that agents charge high commission from manpower companies to send job demands through their firms. Also, manpower agencies have also been offering commission to agents in the destinations to bring job demands.

As Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) does not permit manpower firms from remitting commission money, the firms have been using informal channels. NRB, through the monetary policy of this fiscal, has allowed foreign exchange facility of $20,000 in a year either at one time or at intervals for foreign employment agencies that send more than 100 workers annually for foreign jobs. Those firms that send less than 100 workers in a year can utilise foreign exchange facility worth $15,000 in a year for promotion and marketing activities in the destination countries.

There are 734 manpower firms in operation and they might face challenges to operate branches in the labour destinations after the new law is enforced.

“In that scenario, foreign employment agencies will either have to down their shutters or merge with each other to strengthen their capacity,” a high level source at the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) said.

MoLE had also consulted with representatives of foreign employment agencies while reviewing the law. It has said the new law would address a wider range of issues concerning foreign employment.

The ministry had formed a committee led by its joint secretary and comprising executive director of Foreign Employment Promotion Board, director general of Department of Foreign Employment, undersecretary of legal division of MoLE and a representative each from Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies, and from the association of returnee migrant workers to review the law.