Worker outflow shrinks by 22.49pc

Kathmandu, January 29

The flow of workers towards overseas job destinations tapered by 22.49 per cent in the first half of the current fiscal year due to protests in the Tarai and lack of interest shown by Nepalis to work in Malaysia.

A total of 210,315 Nepalis left the country for employment purpose in the six-month period through mid-January, show the latest data of the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE). In the same period of last fiscal year, a total of 271,339 Nepalis had left for overseas job destinations.

“One of the reasons for the fall is protests in the Tarai. Since most of the foreign job-seekers come from the southern plains, the protests affected their movement,” a DoFE official said, adding, “Also, the weak Malaysian ringgit limited labour outflow to the southeast Asian country, which used to be largest recipient of Nepali workers till last fiscal year.”

Labour export to Malaysia slumped by 70 per cent in the first six months of the current fiscal year.

The country had absorbed 117,686 Nepali workers in the first half of last fiscal year. The number fell to 35,335 in the six-month period of this fiscal.

As less Nepali workers visited the country for employment purpose, Malaysia slipped to third position in the league table of most favourite foreign employment destinations of Nepalis.

“Nepali workers’ interest in Malaysia is waning because of the erosion in the value of the Malaysian currency, which directly hits the income of workers,” the official said.

A Malaysian ringgit used to fetch around Rs 30 one-and-a-half-years ago. The currency weakened against the Nepali rupee and fell to around Rs 24 in October. However, it has since gained strength, and the exchange rate currently hovers around Rs 26 per ringgit.

Along with the weakening of currency, government’s introduction of ‘free ticket and visa’ scheme for certain foreign employment destinations also played a role in reducing the flow of Nepali workers to Malaysia. Under the scheme, manpower agencies are barred from charging more than Rs 10,000 to recruit Nepalis in companies located in Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

“This provision prevented Malaysian brokers, who were earning a lot of money by working as an intermediary between Malaysian companies seeking overseas workers and Nepali manpower agencies seeking to export workers to Malaysia, from charging exorbitant fees. So, they are no longer interested in Nepal. This has also played a role in reducing the outflow of workers to Malaysia,” the official said.

In spite of this, Nepalis leaving for other major foreign employment destinations rose in the six-month period, show the DoFE data.

Saudi Arabia absorbed 66,850 Nepalis — 31.79 per cent of the total outgoing workers — in the six-month period — up 47.80 per cent than in the same period last fiscal year. This made the Gulf country the top recipient of

Nepali workers in the review period.

The second favourite foreign employment destination of Nepalis in the six-month period was Qatar. A total of 64,752 Nepalis left for the country in the first six months of the current fiscal year, as against 63,319 in the same

period last fiscal year.

Among others, 26,407 Nepali workers left for United Arab Emirates, 5,170 Nepalis departed for Kuwait, 2,181 workers left for Japan, 1,909 workers left for South Korea and 1,746 workers departed for Oman.

Of the Nepalis who left the country for employment purpose, 199,789, or 95 per cent, were male and the rest were female.