Labor pains

The Non-Resident Nepalis (NRNs) are expected to contribute to the development of their native country. These could be investments that could accrue both short and long term benefits from small and big projects. The government should see to it that a congenial environment is created for the NRNs to invest and these Nepalis, by all accounts, are more than willing to do so as can be gleaned from what they have expressed while participating in the forth global conference of the Non-Resident Nepalese Association (NRNA) being held in the capital. President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav Tuesday in his address to the conference also exhorted the NRNs to work for the overall progress of the country for which the NRNs can play a pivotal role in sectors such as economic diplomacy, and also building a favorable image of Nepal in the countries of their domicile. The NRNs have shown their keen interest in the peace process, and have urged the political parties to bring this to fruition so as to ensure foreign investment. Equally importantly, the government has urged the NRNs to explore the Nepali labour markets in their countries of residence. It is estimated that about 400,000 Nepalis enter the domestic job market every year and that there are simply not enough openings for all of them. This is why the stress is being laid on developing labor markets for Nepalis abroad.

That the NRNs have come together with an objective is praiseworthy. It shows that they feel they owe a debt to the native country. Though 20 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Nepali economy comes from remittance, most of the Nepalese employed abroad are unskilled or semi-skilled. So as to address this anomaly, the NRNs have been requested to provide skill training to the Nepali workers. Most of those holding skilled jobs in foreign lands come from affluent families, whereas the majority of the unskilled and semi-skilled workers come from poor background and poverty has driven them to seek employment abroad. The NRNs are expected to provide the necessary information about employment scope in the foreign countries and also find suitable jobs for other Nepalese which are secure. At present, the labour market is beset with reports of abuse and exploitation of Nepali laborers and the NRNs could see to it that the workers get fair remuneration and also that they are provided with the necessary security.

The NRNs seem to have made their point

while attending the present conference, but the point is that the commitments made have to come to fruition rather than remain on paper only.

Another facet that is interesting is that their association ought to be more reflective, that is inclusive as far as the ideological stances of individual NRNs

matter. It is no political playground for NRNA

members to show their political skills, rather it is a forum that has made it a mission to do something for the land of their birth. Therefore, going astray in the name of political leaning cannot be the ideal path to traverse when they have generated so much optimism of financial inputs to see Nepal climb up the ladders of prosperity.

Benign diplomacy

The economy of Nepal is a serious matter. What is observed just belies all expectations. It is another matter that when it comes to rhetoric and lip service none can parallel our top leaders. The topic of “economic diplomacy” has been in the air for so long that we should have leapfrogged in the direction, but

it remains more as an expression to be talked

about rather than to go into the practicalities. Of course, the fiscal budget for 2009-10 has earmarked allocations in the name of establishing economic attaches in a number of countries. Now, some concrete steps are being seen in realizing this, that is the initiatives is on with a relevant proposal reaching the Finance Ministry and Commerce Ministry. How it will fare with in the ambit of the two said ministries will be evident in the coming days.

It is true that the Nepalese missions too could have undertaken the “economy diplomacy” task, but as things are nothing much has been their output. If investments on economic attaches are to be made, there is every reason to expect results that benefits the country rather than just pouring water in sand. Hypothetical ramblings must turn into real gains as far as the economy is concerned.