EDITORIAL: Assisting migrants

As the migrant labour force is contributing to the country financially in these difficult times the FEPB could do well by putting the plans into force

The government is mulling about how to put into use the Foreign Employment Welfare Fund that now has resources worth around Rs. 3.15 billion. The Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB) which manages the fund is planning more support for the migrant workers. It plans to provide additional assistance to these workers and their families. As of now, the fund is mostly used to provide compensation to the family of the migrants who die abroad and also who are injured in their workplace.  Support schemes are being envisaged that would, among other things, provide the money necessary to provide medical treatment expenses to the workers and also their immediate family members. More wishing to work abroad as migrant workers would also be provided the required skill training so that they can work and find jobs in foreign countries. The government, for its part, has been unable to provide other additional support from the fund due to negligence and also lack of clarity of how it should be used. Its use has been specified in the foreign employment law of the country, but to no avail.

Since the provision of the utilization of the fund is complicated it will now be simplified. This would entail that there must be a fund management criteria in place. It also calls for the implementation of a separate guideline without delay within this current fiscal year. The Foreign Employment Act 2007 specifies how the fund is to be used for purposes including providing skill training to work abroad. It is also being used to bring back the dead bodies of the Nepali migrants and also to provide compensation if they suffer from injuries at their workplace. Reparation is also to be provided to the families of the migrants who die abroad. The fund could also be gainfully used to finance the returning migrants with employment-oriented training programmes. It could also do with some publicity by holding promotional activities that are related to foreign employment.

The foreign employment rules also have provisions for the funding of education of the children of the migrants. Child care centres would also be opened so that women who opt to migrate for work can leave their children behind. The migrants are required to contribute Rs. 1,000 for this fund when they go to join foreign jobs. This fund has been set up for the social security of the migrant workers and their welfare when they leave their country. It is also collected for the use of returnees and their families. Besides the country would benefit from the skills acquired by the migrant workers, and they would be assisted to become entrepreneurs leading the country towards prosperity. There is also a scholarship scheme that has been benefiting about 1000 children in the present fiscal year. Scholarships are also to be provided for the children of the migrants who die. As per the annual plan of the FEPB it would also be imparting skill training to 10,000 aspiring migrant workers this fiscal. In the last fiscal year around 3,500 individuals had been trained to acquire various skills which were found to be useful. As the migrant labour force is contributing to the country financially in these difficult times the FEPB could do well by putting the plans into force.

Snail’s pace

The government has tabled a Bill in the Legislature-Parliament to replace an ordinance introduced three days before the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction on June 25. The ordinance was issued to garner international support for the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure of the public facilities and rehabilitation and relocation of the people whose houses were destroyed in the April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks. The government had to table a new Bill to this effect after a replacement Bill of the ordinance could not pass through Parliament within 60 days’ of its tabulation.

The main opposition UCPN-Maoist had raised some objections to the ordinance saying that the organizational structure was ineffective to carry out the reconstruction work for which the government has allocated Rs.74 billion for this fiscal. It has been five months since the quake damaged private and public property to the tune of over Rs. 700 billion, leaving over 9000 people dead. The snail’s pace of constituting the authority is sure to hamper reconstruction work aimed at completing it within five years.