WMWs bring remittance, bridge GG

KATHMANDU: Apart from bringing in remittance, foreign employment has bridged the gender gap (GG) also, according to a survey.

The trend of gender difference between male and female has vanished in the last five years as an equal number of women are attracted to foreign employment unlike five years ago, states the report on Women Migrant Workers (WMWs) in foreign employment and financial aspects conducted by Society of Economic Journalists (Sejon) in assistance of UNIFEM.

Due to financial crisis, women go for foreign employment and Isreal is the most preferred destination for them as it is more lucrative in terms of money and comparatively safer than other destinations, the report stated.

Community and caste has nothing to do with foreign employment as women from different castes and communities and different economic status are opting for foreign employment.

However, the cost of foreign employment is high due to the manpower agencies. “If financial institutions were to lend them money, the cost might come down,” suggested the report.

However, the financial institutions want a payback assurance. “We have the bitter experience of lending to foreign employment aspirants,” said Sashin Joshi, president of Nepal Bankers’ Association (NBA) and CEO of NIC Bank. “The rate of loan default is 96 per cent in the previously floated loans to foreign employment aspirants,” he said adding that banks will lend if there is a guarantee that their money would be returned.

“A mechanism has to be set up — like a tripartite agreement — to float loans to foreign employment seekers,” he added. Joshi also blamed the government for not doing homework before bringing the Rs 7 billion bond scheme for migrant workers. “It may be just another deficit financing tool,” he opined. “Apart from that, it cannot be sold through embassies.”

Financial Companies’ Association president Ram Shanta Shrestha supported Joshi. “The tendency of borrowers not repaying loan is dangerous,” he said.

Social scientist Ganesh Gurung said the bond would not be sold as migrant workers’ primary intention will be to repay loan followed by spending on their children’s education.

“The government should announce incentives, if it wants to sell the bonds,” Gurung said. “There is no compatibility between the government’s Acts and Regulations and their implementation,” he added.

Nepal Foreign Employment Agencies’ Association president Tilak Rana Bhat complained of government apathy. The government has opened 107 countries for Nepalis as foreign work destinations. “The remittance that keeps the economy afloat is not government’s achievement,” he said adding that before blaming the manpower agencies, the government should stop the women going via India as they would be more vulnerable in that case.

Nepal Remitters’ Association (NRA) president Chandra Dhakal said the government should bring those sending migrant workers through illegal channels within the legal frame to minimise vulnerability.

“Remittance has almost 18 per cent contribution to the GDP but it is neglected by the government,” Dhakal complained. “However, nearly 30 to 40 per cent of the remittance does not come through banking channels.”

For the past five consecutive years, remittance remains the top contributor to foreign exchange earnings. It has contributed to 26 per cent growth in convertible currency reserves by playing a crucial role in savings, investment, growth, consumption and poverty and income distribution. “Women migrant workers contribute 11 of the 18 per cent,” said UNIFEM Regional Programme manager Sharu Joshi Shrestha.

Finance Ministry senior advisor Keshav Acharya said women have 100 per cent contribution in remittance, because the men work in foreign land and it is their wives who look after the home and bear all family responsibility.

The impact of remittance is not only economic, but also social, cultural and political. Remittance’s high social returns

manifest in the form of increased household investments in

education, entrepreneurship

and health.

Remittance augments the income of the recipient households. Increased income has impact on consumption and livelihood. Remittance also increases household expenditure on health and education.

Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) research department executive director Trilochan Pageni assured of further research on the topic. “Remittance could also have negative impacts,” he said adding that large and sustained remittance inflow could cause an appreciation of the real exchange rate and Nepal is slowly losing relative export competitiveness due to easy inflow of remittance.