KATHMANDU: Israel is reluctant to issue visa for Nepali migrant workers as Nepal’s government hesitates to punish errant foreign employment agencies. Israel had requested Nepal’s Ministry of Labour and Transport Management (MoLTM) to punish 16 outsourcing agencies for fraud last month.

Israel will not reopen its labour market for Nepalis until those outsourcing agencies are brought to book, said Mukunda Adhikari, undersecretary at the Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB). MoLTM has formed a committee under Kashi Ram Marasini, director of Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE), to probe into the frauds committed by these outsourcing agencies.

‘We are investigating the cases,” said Marasini. Legal action will be taken against those found guilty, he assured. But most outsourcing agencies do not believe in the promise. “It is just a drama by of MoLTM,” said an owner of an outsourcing agency said. Officers at MoLTM also said the same on condition of anonymity. The government must take strong action against the cheats, said Tilak Rana Bhat, president of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA). “NAFEA is ready to help the government punish the culprits,” he said.

Israel has banned the hiring of Nepali workers since April 24 after its ministry of interior found more than 1,000 Nepalis working there illegally. The ministry studied the case and found outsourcing agencies were behind this. According to the Israeli government, huge service charge of outsourcing agencies is compelling people to leave the jobs they were hired for and work elsewhere illegally.

Outsourcing agencies of Nepal have been collecting Rs 600,000-Rs 800,000 from Israel-bou-nd workers where they get monthly salary of Rs 60,000 each. MoLTM has fixed Rs 240,000 as the service charge but outsourcing agencies are violating the norm.

Israel has shown concern in two other sectors — Nepali are unskilled in their jobs and don’t know Hebrew language and culture. Israel wants skilled Nepali workers, said Adhikari. Around 12,000 Nepalis are working in agriculture, service and caregiver sectors of Israel. Of them 10,000 are women working in the caregiver sector. Israel’s ban has affected 400 Nepali who have finished all procedures of employment. The outsourcing agencies too are beraing a loss of Rs 50 million.