South Korea agrees to hire Nepali workers; Governments to sign an MoU by month end

Kathmandu, March 12:

South Korea has agreed to enlist Nepal as a source country for skilled manpower and to import Nepali workers under its newly enforced Employment Permit System (EPS).

The South Korean government on March 2 decided to enlist Nepal as a source country and a bilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect will be signed within this month, said Ramesh Lekhak, minister of state for labour and transport management, on Monday.

“We have been informed that Nepal has been given a high priority and kept under the category of ‘an immediate implementation country’ among source countries. So we would start the process of sending labourers immediately after the MoU is signed,” he said.

He also informed that both governments are busy at giving finishing touches to the draft MoU.

Lekhak also said that it is completely a government-to-government process and all necessary recruitment and selection procedures will be finalised only after the MoU is signed. “So, we request everyone not to get attracted to any offer whatsoever,” he added.

Nam Sang Sung, South Korean ambassador to Nepal said that the draft MoU from the Korean side would be given to the Nepal government by this Friday or early next week and signed once it is finalised. “Korea has placed Nepal as a high priority source country and the labour importing process will soon start right after signing the MoU,” he said.

He also reiterated that ‘EPS is a government to government business’ and private recruiting agencies would have no role on selection, recruitment and sending process of the labourers. So far, South Korea has identified 15 different countries as source countries for labour import and the MoU has already been signed with nine countries, Sung informed.

A total of 49,600 workers will be accepted under EPS quota for 2007 from source countries, whereas five countries are under the immediate implementation country list, he informed.

“If everything goes as per the plan, we hope to sign the MoU by the end of this month and start the process from early next month,” said Shyam Prasad Mainali, officiating secretary at the ministry of labour and transport management.

He also informed that the government would inform all potential candidates about job opportunities and ask to take part in training as per the demand in South Korea. The training will include skill development, Korean language and familarisation on working environment. “However, all details will be made public only after the MoU is signed,” he added.

Mainali also informed that the Korean government has requested to help in handling deporting overstay and illegal Nepali workers in South Korea. Although, he didn’t give the exact number of Nepalis working there, it is estimated that over 5,000 Nepalis are in South Korea.

During his visit to Nepal in January this year, South Korean labour minister Lee Sang Soo had given a green signal to enlist Nepal as a source country under the new system, which ensures pay and perks as per the Korean labour law.

The South Korean Employment of Foreign Workers Act 2003, which came into effect since August 1, 2004 introduced the EPS and came into full implementation from this year onwards. EPS allows Korean employers having over 300 employees to hire trained technical manpower from abroad for three years.