National

Ministry to increase migrant workers’ levy

  • Officials say move necessary for providing needy workers, their families with better relief
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Dec 28, 2016-

The Ministry of Labour and Employment is seeking more contribution from migrants as it looks to boost the Migrant Workers’ Welfare Fund for providing additional relief to workers and their families in cases of problems and disasters related to foreign jobs.

Ministry officials said the new rate, which is yet to be decided, would come into effect before a decision is taken to further increase the relief amount for the families of deceased and injured workers.

In September, PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal announced to increase the compensation amount being provided by the state to the families of migrant workers who die in labour destinations, from the existing Rs300,000 to Rs700,000.

“The current reserve won’t last long once we increase the compensation amount to Rs700,000. That’s one reason why we are considering revising the amount,” ministry Spokesperson Govinda Mani Bhurtel told the Post.

“Currently, we are charging Rs1,000 from each migrant irrespective of the duration of stay and the country of departure. Many are questioning how fair it is to take

the same amount from a migrant going to South Korea on a five-year work contract and a worker going to Saudi Arabia for a two-year period. There is a need to bring uniformity in the levy,” said Bhurtel.

Sources said stakeholders including the Department of Foreign Employment and the Foreign Employment Promotion Board, the patron of the Welfare Fund, have proposed doubling the contribution.

It, however, remains unclear whether the plan, in consideration for the last two years, materialises as workers’ groups and activists are against creating additional financial burden on migrants. Moreover, the government is being criticised heavily for doing little for migrants and their families despite collecting more than Rs3 billion from the workers already.

The board’s annual progress report shows that a large chunk of the welfare fund is being used to cover the administrative expenses of the frontline offices and Nepali embassies in job destinations. Besides, millions are spent on foreign junkets of government officials, buying vehicles and providing training for government staff, manpower agencies and embassy officials, against the spirit of the regulations.

The Foreign Employment Act states that the fund has to be used for “training of migrant workers, providing education and health facilities to their children, paying compensation to the injured and family of dead migrants and evacuating them during crises”.

Other purposes of the fund are arranging employment-oriented training for the returnees and bringing home the bodies of deceased workers.

Published: 28-12-2016 08:40

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