Outsourcers miffed at ‘apathetic’ budget

KATHMANDU: Foreign employment agencies are dissatisfied with the fiscal year 2009-10 budget and have urged that the government review it. The budget has neglected the contribution of outsourcing agencies in economy, said Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) president Tilak Rana Bhat.

Foreign employment has made outstanding contribution in the development of Nepal with 17 per cent contribution to the gross domestic production (GDP).

The government has not enlisted outsourcing agencies as an industry yet, said Bhat. “This is the reason it ignored our sector in the budget,” he pointed out.

The government has plans to make outsourcing service dignified, secure, transparent and fair by strengthening the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) in the budget. Fraudulent activities related to foreign employment will be strictly controlled in collaboration with the private sector, the budget has said.

“Control of fraud, promotion of labour diplomacy and respecting the rights of migrant labourers are good initiatives in the budget,” said DoFE director general Mohan Krishna Sapkota . He added that he was satisfied with the capacity enhancement of DoFE in the budget 2009-10. “If we get sufficient budget, we can control fraud in foreign employment,” he added.

The new budget has skills training for 36,000 youths through ‘Learn Skills and Be Employed’ scheme targeting the domestic and international market. “It is a good initiative,” said Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB) executive director Sthaneshwor Devkota. Nepali migrant workers in destination countries are earning less compared to their counterparts from other countries only because they lack training, he added.

However, Bhat praise the budget for removal of two per cent foreign employment service fee which was charged to outsourcing agencies last year.

“Our (outsourcing agencies) concern is that the budget is not come with strategy to address global economic crisis,” he said. The crisis has hard hit in major destination countries- the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Malaysia and South Korea. Nepali labour bound to the UAE and Malaysia has significantly declined in 2009. Meanwhile, South Korea has not started new batch of Employment Permit System (EPS) and stopped hiring Nepali workers in manufacturing sector since June 10.

The budget has proposed Rs 7 billion Infrastructure Development Bond (IDB) to mobilize the remittance in national economy. “It is a good initiation,” said Bhat. The use of remittance in unproductive sector was hot topics for years in Nepal. Finance Minister Surendra Pandey has proposed to sell IDB in South Korea, Malaysia, the UAE and Qatar through mobilizing diplomatic mission in those countries.