Facilitating migrants

The need of the hour now is to provide employment opportunities to the labour force within the country

The government has decided to facilitate migrant Nepali workers by asking their foreign employers to pay their money for the air fare and the provision to provide them with a free visa. This is a commendable move in that the gullible migrants would not be cheated by the various foreign manpower agencies as is happening now. It has been decided that from now on these workers would be provided free air tickets and visas. This has been applied for the migrant workers going to seven countries – Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. The number of laborers migrating to these countries accounts for about 95 per cent of the total number of such workers. The manpower agencies have been found to be cheating the outbound workers by charging a heavy fee, that is unjust calling for stern action. Moreover, there are plans to provide the domestic workers migration facilities at zero cost. This move would allow more Nepali migrants to work abroad most of whom are living in dire poverty. It is also possible that most of the Nepali youths would opt to migrate to the detriment of the development activities in their native country. This would bring in crisis of some sort in the future, and all the stakeholders need to be aware of this possibility.

Meanwhile, the foreign employment agencies want the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MoLE) to take back this decision. They have warned that they would be stopping the applications for pre-approval. In other words, if this deadlock is not broken then the migrant labor force from Nepal would not be able to go to the foreign destinations depriving them of their livelihood. The lack of remittances would have an adverse effect on the overall living standard of their families, many of whom are living in abject poverty. There is no alternative for them but to seek employment abroad as their home country is not able to provide them with suitable jobs.

After scrapping air ticket fare and providing the Nepali migrants with free visa they would no longer have to pay about a hefty sum of Rs. 80,000 service fee to work in Malaysia and Rs. 70,000 in the Gulf countries that had been in effect for the past 12 years. There could, however, be some exceptions for the government is going ahead charging a maximum of Rs. 10,000 as service fee for exceptional cases which have yet to be made public. These provisions are only for those countries with whom the government had reached an agreement at the bilateral level, and Nepal does not have such a requirement with countries like Malaysia and Saudi Arabia where most of the Nepali migrant workers are found to be working. At present, the remittances sent by the Nepali migrant workers is the major earning for the country contributing immensely to the Balance of Payment. It would not benefit the country in the long run if this state is allowed to continue. The need of the hour now is to provide employment opportunities to the labour force within the country. After the devastating April 25 earthquake Nepal needs it to rebuild the country and Nepal is counting on more youths returning home to carry out such works.

Monsoon mayhem

With the annual monsoon on full swing many parts of the country, especially the eastern hilly region, have been affected by the landslides and floods, leaving several people dead or missing and micro-hydropower plants damaged. A report from Khotang district said that two persons went missing after a swollen river swept away their shanty hut built on the river banks. Two micro-hydropower plants in Khotang, one in Makwanpur were damaged by the floods triggered by the monsoon rains.

Hundreds of people are killed and property worth million of rupees get damaged during the monsoon every year. Monsoon rain is a boon for regeneration of plants and paddy plantation but they can also cause destruction in case of heavy downpour in a concentrated area. Keeping this in mind the government authorities should be fully prepared for rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the displaced families. Hundreds of families are rendered homeless due to landslides and floods, but they are rarely resettled or rehabilitated. What the government needs to do is to rehabilitate the displaced families at safer places with the provision of livelihood.