Remittance drop to hit land price

Kathmandu, December 29:

The zooming price of land will slow down within coming 10 months but not go kaput, predict experts.

“The whopping rise in land prices will slow down in the coming 10 months,” said Ganesh Gurung, a sociologist who has been studying the remittance aspect, at an interaction on ‘Global financial crisis and its impact on Nepali migrant workers’ organised by the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) here today.

Land prices in the valley have been climbing up due to violence in the Tarai and the remittances that Nepali migrant workers send home. “Malaysia and the Gulf countries have started feeling the heat of the global financial crisis,” he said adding that big construction companies in the Gulf and garment factories in Malaysia as well as construction, industry and service sectors — supported by foreign direct investment (FDI) — have started laying off unskilled workers, including Nepalis.

“FDI in Malaysia has dropped by 50 per cent and they are laying off unskilled workers like Nepalis,” said Dr Chiranjivi Nepal, an economist and former chairman of Securities Board of Nepal.

“Some of the companies which had sent orders for new workers, are now requesting to delay it,” said an entrepreneur voicing serious concern at the state of the labour market in Gulf and Malaysia and remittance that is the lifeline of Nepal’s economy.

“The government is behaving as if nothing has happened,” accused Dr Nepal adding that even a strong economy like India is also serious about the crisis. It has announced various stimulous packages to mitigate the impact of the global financial crisis.

Dr Nepal said that every country except Nepal has devised its own strategy to cope with this global crisis. Remittance supports over 60 per cent of Nepal’s import. “If the remittance goes down, it will hit imports making it hard for the government to meet the revenue target,” he said.

The government should form a high-level monitoring committee to day-to-day access the remittance flow through the Malaysia-Nepal corridor and Japan-Nepal corridor, suggested Gurung. “As a temporary measure, Nepal can diversify the labour market as the high concentration in the Gulf and Malaysia might have an adverse effect on our economy. Diversifying would cushion the shock,” he added.

NAFEA president Tilak Bahdur Ranabhat dwelt on the various problems the manpower agencies are facing and urged the government to help them sort out problems in the remittance business that contributes around 17.4 per cent to the total gross domestic product (GDP). “The delay in appointing a labour attache has also caused various problems for working in those countries,” he said.

According to official data, 656 Nepalis leave the country every day for greener pastures in other countries, mainly in the Gulf and to Malaysia.

Roughly, Rs 38,90,41,095 flows into Nepal as remittance everyday. Almost 2.5 million Nepalis — 1.2 million official and 1.3 million unofficial figures — work in various countries across the globe, according to Ranabhat.

“Money sent home by one worker maintains a four-member family here. This makes it a total of 10 million people dependent on remittance,” he added.

The 10-year long conflict also played a key role in forcing people to go abroad for jobs.

At the begining of the conflict, per household used to receive Rs 15,160 per month remittance but at the end of the conflict it crossed Rs 34,698, according to Gurung’s study.

Lebanon out of bounds, for now

KATHMANDU: The government has temporarily banned Lebanon for Nepali migrants workers from Sunday, due to increasing insecurity for workers because of violence in the Middle East. The Department of Labour and Employment Promotion (DoLEP) would lift the ban once the situation returns to normal. A total of 1,530 Nepalis left for Lebanon in the fiscal year 2007-08. According to the DoLEP 823 worker reached Lebanon during first five months of the current fiscal year. — HNS