KATHMANDU: The government has decided to implement the provision of sending workers at zero cost to seven major labour destinations from July 6. On Wednesday, the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) took a decision to this effect, even as the provision has been drawing controversy.
MoLE has put up a notice on the website of Foreign Employment Promotion Board instructing all stakeholders to work as per the new provision. It did so after the Ministry of Law, Justice, Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs refused to publish the notice regarding zero cost provision in the Nepal Gazette, citing that notices of such provisions that are related to expenses of workers do not require to be published in the Gazette.
Job-seekers eyeing seven labour destinations to be able to go at zero cost from July 6
A state minister-level meeting of MoLE on June 9 had decided to implement the provision that aims to send Nepali workers to selected labour destinations for free or by incurring a maximum expense of Rs 10,000 in special cases. Nepali workers should be sent to labour destinations — Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman — only on condition that employers bear the costs of visa and air ticket, according to the notice.
Similarly, employers while hiring workers from Nepal will have to agree that they would not deduct any cost from the salary of workers. “Aspirants will have to pay insurance money, orientation class fee and charge to Foreign Employment Welfare Fund, only if the employer refuses to finance these expenses,” according to MoLE.
The notice says that companies hiring Nepali workers will need to send expenses for air ticket and service fee to Nepali agency’s bank account in Nepal. And, the agencies are required to keep a record of income and expenditure.
Manpower agencies, on the other hand, have criticised the government for its ‘one-sided’ decision.
Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) said that the zero cost provision will divert demand of employers to other countries like Bangladesh. “MoLE made the decision without consulting with destination countries and Nepali agencies,” said Kamal Tamang, general secretary of NAFEA. He added that enforcing such a provision without change in the law is not possible and there is also no labour agreement with any country about zero cost issue.
As per the new provision, manpower agencies cannot collect any fee from the job-seekers. Rather, they will have to take their service fee and promotional charge from the employers. In case the employer hiring workers refuses to give service fee and promotional expense, the agencies will be able to collect a maximum of Rs 10,000 per worker and even for that, they will have to furnish an official letter of employers refusing to the pay the service fee and promotional charge.
As per the notice, issuance of receipt to worker for payment made as service fee and promotional charge has been made mandatory. After the new provision, MoLE has scrapped the charge of maximum of
Rs 80,000 for employment in Malaysia and Rs 70,000 for Gulf countries that was implemented 12 years ago.