Manpower firms to resume operations partially from today

Kathmandu, March 30

Manpower agencies have agreed to resume partial operations of their offices from tomorrow as the government has invited the agitating Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) — the umbrella association of manpower agencies in the country — for talks.

Manpower agencies were in protest and had suspended all their operations since March 6 after the police had raided the offices of some manpower agencies in the last week of February, on the charge of swindling money from foreign job aspirants.

As per today’s decision, manpower firms will begin process for final approval from the Department of Foreign Employment for foreign job aspirants, who obtain visa till March 31. “We have decided to operate our firms partially from tomorrow as the government has shown readiness to resolve the problems facing manpower agencies,” said Bimal Prasad Dhakal, president of NAFEA.

Even as the move may offer some respite to 4,000 to 5,000 foreign job-seekers who have already received their visa, the manpower agencies will not begin the pre-approval process. This is because they have been claiming they cannot bring demand from foreign countries while abiding by government’s instruction not to charge more than Rs 10,000 as service fee to send workers to six Gulf countries — Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman — and Malaysia.

NAFEA has said that they have decided to partially resume their operations as the Ministry of Labour and Employment invited them for talks and urged them to withdraw their protest before sitting for discussion. The government and manpower agencies are meeting to hold talks tomorrow.

NAFEA has formed a five-member committee to hold talks with government, which is led by its President Dhakal, and comprises General Secretary Rohan Gurung, former presidents Prem Katwal and Bal Bahadur Tamang, and Dil Prasad Pokharel, an independent manpower operator.

When announcing the protest, NAFEA had said that manpower firms would not resume their services till the government addresses their demands — primarily, ‘end police brutality’.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) has formed a committee chaired by Joint Secretary Surya Prasad Shrestha and comprises Executive Director of Foreign Employment Promotion Board Raghu Raj Kafle, Director General of Department of Foreign Employment Kedar Bahadur Bogati, undersecretary of legal division of MoLE, representative from NAFEA and representative from migrant returnees’ organisations to amend the existing Foreign Employment Act and Rules to address all the problems that have been witnessed in the sector of foreign employment rather than dealing with them in piecemeal approach.

NAFEA has also welcomed the government’s decision to amend the law to resolve the problems being faced by the sector.