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Free-visa-free-ticket policy: Recruiting agencies telling twisted tale?

  • Govt figures contradict what lobbyists say about Nepali migrant workers
- ROSHAN SEDHAI, Kathmandu
Official statistics contradict the claims of recruiting agencies and other lobbyists who insist that the free-visa-free-ticket policy has failed to lure Nepali workers into flying abroad for jobs

Jan 14, 2016-Has the free-visa-free-ticket policy distracted Nepali migrant workers from going abroad for jobs?

Recruiting agencies may say yes, but official figures show otherwise.

Data of the Department of Foreign Employment, a government body that provides frontline service to aspirant migrants, show that it received a total of 481,480 job demands in the first five months of the current fiscal year. But during that period, only 174,926 Nepalis actually took overseas job, which is barely 36.5 percent of the total job demand of the labour receiving countries from across the globe. The numbers also show that Nepal was able to supply barely 40 percent workforce of the total demand despite receiving over a million job demands each year for the last three years.

The statistics contradict the claims of recruiting agencies and other lobbyists who insist that the free-vista-free-ticket policy has failed to lure Nepali workers into flying abroad for jobs, despite the fact that the policy was adopted to facilitate the aspiring migrants.

The recruiting agencies have long been lobbying against the free-visa-free-ticket scheme.

The policy that was put into force on July 8 last year makes it binding for employers of seven labour receiving countries—Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman—that they provide free air ticket and visa.

The government’s policy had come as a great respite for migrant workers who are forced to pay hefty sums to get a job abroad. But recruiting agencies in cahoots with a section of government officials are trying to get the scheme scrapped, and hence are involved in twisting facts and figures. Concerned stakeholders said the panic on part of the recruiting agencies is understandable, given the fact that they were earlier allowed to charge up to Rs80,000 as recruitment fee to send migrants to the Gulf and Malaysia.

 “What is particularly disturbing is that even senior government officials and responsible politicians are easily buying the false information fed by recruiting agencies and are for scrapping the scheme,” said a DoFE official seeking anonymity.

Job demands from destination countries are increasing at a healthy rate, officials said. Some countries are even demanding higher number of Nepali workers after the

free-visa-free-ticket policy. Qatar  has demanded 288,544 Nepali workers in the past

five months.

Outbound migrants are still compelled to pay exorbitant fee due to failure of the state authorities to enforce the rule. No reliable study has been done on the effectiveness of the scheme, even though stakeholders estimate that only 10 percent migrants

may have benefited from the new rule.

Representatives of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA). however, blame the government’s “impromptu decision” for anomalies. They argue that the government should have signed Memorandum of Understanding on the scheme before introducing it.

 “Recruiting agencies cannot send workers charging just Rs10,000,” Rohan Gurung, NAFEA General Secretary, said at a recent interaction.

Govindamani Bhurtel, spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour and Employment, said that the government was committed to enforcing the scheme but in the meantime was also ready to address the rightful grievances of the recruiting agencies.




Published: 14-01-2016 08:53

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