Print Edition - 2014-09-02  |  Development

Creating jobs at home

  • Experts advise government and policymakers to stop being deluded with fleeting success of remittance and provide employment opportunities for its youth inside the country
- Roshan Sedhai
Creating jobs at home

Sep 1, 2014-

High number of unemployed youth population could be damaging for a country. Even worse, a government that does nothing about it while the educated young citizens leave the country for overseas employment.

Last month, around 62,000 Nepali men and women below 37 years of age applied for the Korean language test due in September. Among them, hardly 9,000 will be short-listed for ‘unskilled’ job in South Korea. South Korea is just a case in point.

Government’s record show steady rise in the number of youth going for overseas job every year. Over half a million people took labour permit from the Department of Foreign Employment in fiscal year 2013/14 alone-- about16 percent rise compared to a year earlier. The actual figure could be much higher as the record does not include undocumented workers.

Overseas  migration, experts say, is destined to go up over the next few years as many industries are shutting down due to persisting crisis of electricity, raw material and security problems in the backdrop of prolonged political transition. The problem of low wage, rising inflation, lack of social security and health service in the country is encouraging many workers to give up their jobs at hand for overseas job.

This has resulted into dearth of human resources in the country, which directly affects the development works. Workers’ unions say that industries are bringing in workers from neighbouring Bihar and Uttar Pradesh of India and as far as Bangladesh to fill the demand in construction and other industrial sectors across the country. These workers are taking as much in wage as a vast majority of Nepali workers earn in the Gulf and Malaysia.

Economist Bishambar Pyakurel says foreign employment cannot change Nepal’s fortune as the vast sum of money earned by Nepali migrants in the Gulf goes in import of daily commodities to hiring Indian and Bangladeshi workers, who are equally expensive and import.

“The government should immediately interfere with effective plans and policies that benefit both workers and employers. It should shift its focus on other viable areas like agriculture, tourism, hydropower and other industrial sector before it’s too late,” says Pyakurel, adding that it’s imprudent to rely on foreign employment for country’s prosperity.

The government looks content with the fleeting success brought by foreign employment. Remittance covers nearly 26 percent of the country’s GDP, according to Nepal Rastra Bank, while official unemployment rate (excluding overseas employment) remains below 3 percent.  The deluge of out-migration has momentarily relieved the government from creating job opportunities and keeping the national economy afloat.

But this success comes at a cost. Around four dead bodies return home from the Gulf on a daily average, while hundreds others get injured in the line of duty. Thousands of young Nepalis face inhumane treatment in their destination countries, with little recourse for legal remedy. There have been almost no planned efforts from the government to protect its workers from economic, physical and psychological abuse and exploitation. Nepal has not signed labour agreement with most of the labour receiving countries to safeguard the rights of its workers. It has become natural for overseas job aspirants to face exploitation both in home and abroad.

The escalating violence and frequent unrest in the Gulf and Middle East is posing bigger threat to migrants from country like Nepal which lacks a power to evacuate and rescue its citizen during crisis.

It is right time, experts say, for policymakers to come up with a broader roadmap of overall development instead of getting deluded with momentary success of remittance. The potential is huge. Nearly 55 percent of the country’s population is below 25, according to Nepal Census report, 2011. With the readily available human and natural resources, the scope of tourism, agriculture, herbal plant and hydropower is huge.

Stakeholders say the prospect of industrial growth look better if the government focus on a creating the environment that is friendly for both workers and investors. They say that remittance, which is mostly used in import, should be invested in industrial growth of the country. The government should ensure security of the migrant’s investment.

Ganesh Gurung, a foreign employment expert, says the current priority should be on promoting safe migration, while tracing other viable alternatives to discourage mass migration.  “It’s impossible to stop the youths from going abroad. There should be a long-term plan to gradually explore the areas of employment and creating jobs at home,” says Gurung.

Nepal’s immediate focus, stakeholders say, should be in creating a conductive work environment to stop returnee migrant from leaving the country again.

Published: 02-09-2014 09:18

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