KATHMANDU: The initial cost incurred by job-seekers eyeing employment in certain countries is expected to come down significantly, as the government will soon prevent manpower agencies from sending migrants without free visa and air tickets.
The government is issuing a notice in a gazette and the rule will be applicable for job-seekers planning to go for work in six gulf countries — Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Kuwait — and Malaysia. The seven countries absorb between 70 and 80 per cent of Nepali job-seekers.
Government is cracking down on manpower agencies as they have been found to be charging exorbitant fees from the job-seekers, in the name of visa, air ticket and service charge.
“We will enforce this provision within two months,” said Tek Bahadur Gurung, state minister at the Ministry of Labour and Employment. The gazette notice has already been drafted and sent for consent at the law ministry. MoLE expects landmark reforms in the foreign employment sector once the new rule is enforced.
The provision should provide immense relief to job-seekers in the selected destinations, as the manpower agencies will not be allowed to charge more than Rs 10,000 per person as service fee and that too if the hiring company is not paying the agency.
The job-seekers, however, will have to fork out additional amount for insurance, welfare fund and medical fees. As per the state minister, the country will not send workers to such hiring companies that can’t bear the visa fees and air tickets.
It is reported that the manpower agencies inflate their rates so they can offer higher commission to the agents of hiring companies in labour destinations to increase the demand for workers from Nepal. This, in turn, ultimately hurts the job-seeker. It is also said that the money sent o the agents of the hiring company is sent through illegal channels like ‘hundi’.
Currently, the manpower agencies can charge any job-seeker looking for employment in Malaysia up to Rs 80,000 and Rs 70,000 for the gulf countries.
This provision will be suspended once the gazette notice is published. “We are very close to inking labour agreement with Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar,” Gurung said, adding that the risks facing Nepali migrant workers will be reduced radically after the pacts are signed.
In addition, MoLE has said that the hiring company should send service fees and air ticket fare to the concerned manpower agency in Nepal through banking channel. However, in case the worker returns from the labour destination within three months, he will be liable to refund the visa fee and ticket fare to the hiring company.
MoLE plans to form a strong monitoring mechanism under the leadership of joint secretary of Foreign Employment and International Labour Relation Division of the ministry to enforce this provision effectively.
The operators of manpower agencies have, however, said the government’s plan is impractical.
“Of the total demand for workers, only 15 to 20 per cent of the hiring companies provide free visa, tickets and service charge, 25 per cent provide free visa and ticket and 30 per cent offer only free visa,” Bal Bahadur Tamang, immediate past president of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies, told THT.
He said the government should put off implementing the new rule until the labour agreements were signed.
Tamang, however, admitted of unhealthy competition among some 751 manpower companies in the country to bring more demand, which has resulted in numerous problems.