NPI makes policy recommendations to govt on migrant workers

Kathmandu, April 22

Nepal Policy Institute, a Netherlands-based global Nepali diaspora think-tank and knowledge platform, has made immediate and long-term policy recommendations to the government on employment of Nepali migrant worker living across the world in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Under immediate policy recommendations, NPI has urged the government to accord top priority to welcome all stranded Nepali returnee migrant workers, daily wage earners and any other Nepali who has been impacted by the spread of coronavirus and arrange transportation back to their home destinations in Nepal. At the same time, it has also urged the government to start planning for post-return livelihood activities-related programmes for their employment.

“The government needs to evacuate all stranded Nepali workers to safe places on the basis of individual’s needs and urgency of situation, and organise repatriation in safety and dignity, preferably in groups, upon assessing their mental, physical and health conditions.

Similarly, it urged empowerment of Nepali missions abroad to provide extended services to needy migrants and support their family members within communities during the crisis period, besides giving special attention to needy migrants from Malaysia and Gulf countries by utilising the foreign employment fund, centrally collected from migrant workers,”

Khagendra Dhakal, NPI chairperson said in a press release.

The government has also been urged to include social protection provisions in employment contracts and other safety nets to cover unforeseen calamities such as this pandemic by destination and source countries, with financial incentives to those who may have lost jobs during the crisis. The press release also urges the government to provide social counselling and mental health services to all returnees.

“The government should provide financial cash support to migrant labourers, who also lost jobs in the domestic front for the initial period of two to three months and other inkind materials and relief supplies during the period of lockdown and beyond if required, and until the time the economy starts functioning and businesses resume operations. There is also need to extend financial support to micro, small and medium enterprises, farmers and producers whose products have been held up in the supply chain process and/or destroyed due to disruptions from extended lockdown,” he suggested.

Under long-term policy recommendations, NPC called on the government to prioritise large projects through rescheduling the work programme and evaluating whether such projects are able to employ returnee migrant workers. It is likely that many migrant workers will lose jobs in destination countries due to massive disruptions in the local economy, impacts on businesses and other disruptions in world economy.

“The government should consider community level self-help projects jointly with local governments and migrant workers, such as community forestry and promotion of environment-friendly kitchen gardening by growing food locally and organically and consuming local produce. It is also necessary for the government to provide employment protection to the people who may have lost employment due to natural calamities and pandemics, through contract negotiations with the employer and receiving governments’ guarantee that migrant workers do not face sudden collapse of income and loss of access to basic health care,” it said.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 23, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.