KATHMANDU: The number of workers leaving the country for foreign employment, that had come down significantly after the earthquake of April 25, has again started to increase gradually.
A total of 37,962 workers left for jobs abroad in Jestha (mid-May to mid-June), according to the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE). It is an increase by 21 per cent when compared to 31,375 individuals who left for foreign jobs in the previous month of Baisakh (mid-April to mid-May).
DoFE officials said that workers who left for jobs abroad were basically those who have either not been directly hit by the disaster or are less affected. They said that youths from even the most severely hit districts like Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk are leaving for jobs, though comparatively less in number.
Though there has been a gradual rise, the number of workers leaving for employment is down by 42 per cent and 30.89 per cent in Baisakh and Jestha, respectively, as compared to the same period of last fiscal year 2013-14. DoFE data show that in the last fiscal year, a total of 54,173 workers left for foreign employment in Baisakh and 54,926 in Jestha.
DoFE officials said that the total number of outbound workers would decline this year due to the impact of the earthquake. “Compared to last year, fewer workers are leaving and at the same time, we are planning to implement a new provision of ‘zero cost’ from July 6,” said an official of DoFE. The official added that due to the objection by manpower agencies, the new provision might take some more time to be implemented. The new rule envisions of sending foreign job aspirants abroad at free of cost or a maximum of Rs 10,000.
As of mid-May to mid-June this year, which is also the 11th month of the current fiscal year, a total of 486,286 individuals including 21,115 females left for foreign employment. DoFE records show that 527,814 workers had opted for foreign employment last fiscal and the figure was up by 16.37 per cent compared to the corresponding year 2012-13.
The number of workers who departed last fiscal year is also the highest annual departure recorded by DoFE so far. At present, the number of people going for foreign employment after the earthquake is comparatively low but this figure will rise say foreign employment agencies. They state that workers would continue choosing foreign destinations if there is no job assurance with good salaries in the country.
A majority of workers who leave for foreign employment are unskilled and such individuals hardly earn Rs 20,000 a month. It is estimated that the reconstruction planned within the next five fiscal years would require around 300,000 workers. “The government should introduce a provision that ensures good wages to retain the workforce for reconstruction works,” said Ram Sharan Deuja, secretary general of the Federation of Contractor Association of Nepal.
A version of this article appears in print on June 26, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.