Nepal | May 27, 2020

Qatar Visa Centre to open today

MoFA and MoLESS differ on allowing setting up of the centre

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Kathmandu, May 28

The planned launch of Qatar Visa Centre (QVC) tomorrow has brought to the fore the brewing dispute between the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security (MoLESS) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

While MoLESS had been against permitting the Qatari government to set up such a centre in the country without finalising the bilateral labour agreement with the Gulf nation, MoFA claims it gave the permission based on the recommendation of MoLESS.

Confirming that his ministry had granted the permission to open QVC, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said, “We gave a go-ahead based on the recommendation of MoLESS.”

MoLESS officials, however, expressed surprise in learning about the scheduled opening of the QVC on Wednesday. “The Qatari government should consult us and take our approval for various matters before opening such centre, which has not happened,” said Narayan Regmi, spokesperson for MoLESS, adding that the ministry has never sent any recommendation to MoFA regarding setting up of QVC.

MoLESS has been opposed to the plan of the Qatari government to set up a visa and bio-metric health centre fearing that it would promote syndicate in the labour market. In fact, reviewing of labour pact with Qatar has been stalled after the QVC was proposed by Qatari officials.

“The Qatari government seems to be unilaterally attempting to establish the visa and bio-metric health centre, which is against the spirit of the proposed bilateral agreement,” said Regmi, adding that the necessity and implications of such centres should have been discussed under a broader plan to review the Nepal-Qatar bilateral labour relationship.

Earlier, the Qatari government had informed that the QVC in Nepal would be the largest such facility in Asia. While the Qatari government claims that establishment of such a centre will end prevailing suppression of Nepali workers, the Nepal government had expressed alarm at the $137 that will be charged per Nepali migrant in the name of ‘lounge fee’. While the Qatari government has been trying to assure Nepali officials that the cost would be borne by the employers, the latter has not been convinced.

While disclosing the plans of the centre in November last year, Ambassador of Qatar to Nepal Yousuf Bin Mohammed Al-Hail had said setting up of the centre would ensure a hassle-free process for Nepalis seeking employment in Qatar. He had informed that setting up of the bio-metric health centre in the country would rid Nepali workers of the obligation of again conducting another check-up in Qatar.

A version of this article appears in print on May 29, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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