EDITORIAL: Better ties

The free-visa and free-ticket provision that the UAE has agreed upon should be implemented so that no Nepali migrant workers need pay more than the amount fixed

Thirty-nine years after Nepal established diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) the latter formally opened her residential mission in Kathmandu on Tuesday.

Nepal and the UAE had established diplomatic relations in 1977. Before the establishment of a residential embassy in Nepal, UAE used to look after Nepal from New Delhi.

Inaugurating the opening of the UAE embassy, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said the bilateral relations had reached “a new height” with the establishment of UAE’s residential embassy in Nepal.

Nepal had set up her residential embassy in the oil rich Gulf country in 2004 to promote bilateral relations as well as to safeguard lawful interests of the Nepali people working there.

It is estimated that around half a million Nepalis are working in the UAE where the working condition of the migrant labourers is better compared to other Gulf countries.

Nepal had been requesting the UAE to open a residential embassy in Kathmandu with a view to better enhance bilateral and economic relations.

Saeed Hamdan al Naqbi has been designated as the UAE’s first residential ambassador to Nepal who will soon present his letter of credence to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari.

During his meeting with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli UAE Foreign Minister Nahyan urged Oli to conclude the proposed Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) and Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) at the earliest so that the Gulf country could make more investment in Nepal.

PM Oli also asked the visiting UAE Foreign Minister for clemency to Amar Bahadur Thapa, a Nepali worker, who is facing death sentence in UAE for his alleged involvement in a murder case.

However, Nahyan made it clear that only the family member of the deceased can decide whether or not to grant clemency.

He, however, assured doing everything possible to ensure Thapa’s clemency.

PM Oli urged the visiting UAE Foreign Minister to make more investment in Nepal’s infrastructure development such as hydropower, renewable energy and tourism as Nepal has competitive advantages in these sectors.

Once the BIPPA and DTAA come into force it is expected that the UAE investment will continue to flow in the mutually identified areas.

At present, Nepal’s major concern is to protect the rightful interests of the Nepali workers in the UAE where they are engaged in industries, construction and service sectors.

It has been found that many Nepali workers are paid less than what is specified by the UAE labour law mainly because of deceitful practice of various manpower agencies within the country and recruiting companies in the host country.

It is high time that both the embassies in Kathmandu and Abu Dhabi worked together to overcome such malpractices that have unlawfully exploited the migrant workers who go there borrowing money from local lenders at high interest rate.

The free-visa and free-ticket provision that the UAE has agreed upon should be strictly implemented so that no Nepali migrant workers need pay more than the amount fixed by the Government of Nepal.

This will safeguard the interests of Nepali workers who have kept the Nepali economy afloat.

Not unfair

The plight of temporary teachers is indeed dismal and they feel that they are not getting a fair deal.

A proposed amendment to the Education Act is lying in a parliamentary committee now, and depending upon its passage there, the new provisions will gain legal status.

One such amendment provides for golden handshake to temporary school teachers the way gratuity is provided at the end of a service term or they may choose the option of appearing at the internal competitive examinations to gain permanent status.

But they will have to pass the examinations.

Now the temporary teachers and their unions are demanding that they be made permanent through internal competition ‘in a dignified manner’. The teachers being given a choice should not, however, be considered unfair.

The temporary teachers in government service number 17,000. Most of them had been recruited from among the party cadres or supporters by government at various times, affecting the quality of teaching.

Temporary teachers, by logic, should not seek automatic permanent status without having to sit for open competition.