Demand verification of workers halted

NAC, Himalaya Airlines suspend flights to Kuala Lumpur

Kathmandu, March 17

After the Malaysian government imposed a complete lockdown for 14 days to control the spread of the coronavirus, the Nepali embassy in Malaysia halted verifying migrant workers’ demand documents today.

The Malaysian government announced a lockdown last night that would remain till March 31.

Subsequently, the embassy issued a notice today stating that the demand verification of migrant workers had been postponed until further notice. “We have also decided to halt our consular services from March 19 to 31.”

Malaysian companies, proprietorship firms and individuals who have valid approval from authorities concerned of the Malaysian government for recruiting foreign workers have to get workers’ demand documents verified by the Nepali embassy.

The embassy said it would offer limited services for emergency or special cases between 10:00am and 1:00pm.

The government had halted issuing all work permits on March 12 until further notice.

The move is expected to adversely affect the country’s economy, even more in the case of Malaysia, which is the top labour destination and one of the top sources of remittance for Nepal.

As per Nepal Rastra Bank, the country had received Rs 29.66 billion (9.7 per cent) out of the total remittance amount of Rs 304.97 billion received in the first four months of the ongoing fiscal from Malaysia.

Kumar Dahal, director general at the Department of Foreign Employment, said since the beginning of March, a total of around 5,000 job aspirants had received labour permits for Malaysia and most of them were yet to take off from here. According to the department, about 700,000 Nepalis are employed in Malaysia.

The country’s remittance is expected to be severely affected as Qatar also suspended entry of Nepali migrant workers on March 9. In the first four months of the current fiscal, Nepal received Rs 53.93 billion or 17.7 per cent of total remittance inflow from the Gulf nation, as per the central bank’s data.

As other Gulf nations are likely to follow Qatar’s footsteps, the remittance inflow is likely to drop notably and hit Nepal’s economy severely. Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which are member countries of Gulf Cooperation Council, contribute 50.3 per cent of total remittance inflow to Nepal.

Meanwhile, Nepal Airlines Corporation and Himalaya Airlines announced suspension of their flights to Kuala Lumpur today.

While Himalaya Airlines stated that its flights to Kuala Lumpur would remain suspended till March 31, NAC — which had been facing losses in its Malaysia flight operations — said it would review the situation and decide whether or not to continue its flights in the sector after the 14- day lockdown period.

NAC has asked passengers who had booked their tickets for flights after March 17 to contact the authorised agencies or the NAC for a refund or cancellation. If passengers so wish, they can reschedule their flights. Passengers will get a full refund and no extra charges will be levied for rescheduling tickets by May 30.

Himalaya Airlines stated that the affected passengers could get full refund or reschedule their flights at no additional charge.