After the government’s promise to help those hit by the Maoist insurgency and the marginalised lot last July, the collateral-free loan scheme appears to be quite promising and is catching on fast among job aspirants. Under this scheme, local authorities select youths in coordination with the district administration office and send the recommendations to the Employment Promotion Commission through the Home Ministry. The government has established a seed fund of Rs 10 million at the Bank of Kathmandu and loans are approved to the displaced, the Dalits, the Janajatis and women as per the recommendations of national umbrella organisations representing these groups. Besides, the government has also made arrangements with the manpower agencies to secure vacancies in addition to a remitting agency, the International Money Express Pvt Ltd, so that reimbursements trickle back as the beneficiaries start earning. This is indeed a novel design to help those in need.
Nepal owes its foreign currency reserve strength largely to the remittances sent in by a huge number of Nepalis working abroad. In fact, Nepal receives over Rs 74 billion in remittances annually, most of which enters the country through “non-banking” channels. Schemes like the one mentioned above offer excellent ways for the government through which the money filtering via the undesired channel could be directed to the banking sector, earning revenue in return. Besides, the involvement of the government in negotiating the job agreement for the worker would mean that the latter is spared the risk of being swindled, a problem long associated with workers abroad. So would the fees that the job aspirant has to cough up. Presence of the government in the picture also offers legitimacy to all the employment deals in addition to a sense of security for the workers.
Most of the Nepalis working abroad are either semi-skilled or laymen. As a result, they get paid far lesser than their Sri Lankan and Indian counterparts, most of whom are literate and skilled. The government must do all it can to provide vocational training to those aspiring to go abroad so that they too get paid well. The four polytechnic institutes which are in the pipeline need to cater to the this group as dictated by the forces of the job market instead of focussing on largely irrelevant courses. This would certainly boost the chances of better wages and job security for Nepalis working abroad. The government must also enter into bilateral employment pacts with the countries in the Middle East and South East Asia, where most of the Nepalis go for work. It is time the employment industry evolved in accordance with the demands of the job market.