Govt decision to waive visa fee, airfare gets vote of confidence from workers

- Roshan Sedhai, Kathmandu

Jul 9, 2015-

As much the government decision to waive visa fee and air fare from the workers visiting the Gulf states and Malaysia has enraged the foreign employment agencies in the country, it has also brought equal measure of joy and relief among the aspiring migrant workers and those already working abroad.

The Nepali migrants working in the Gulf countries and Malaysia are already taking to the social media platforms like Facebook to welcome the decision which, they believe, will finally end the middlemen culture and control financial exploitation of Nepali men and women applying for overseas employment. Besides commending the government decision, they are also critical of the protest launched by the recruitment agencies terming it selfish and unwarranted.

“Why object when public are getting chance to join overseas job in free visa and free ticket. I know the pain of working in foreign land, what would you (recruiting agency) know?,” Ram Narayan Shah, a migrant working in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, commented on Facebook.

Bishu Prasad Wasti, another migrant worker who is currently in Saudi Arabia, commented: “Manpower agencies are getting mad for not being able to suck the blood of 30 million Nepalis.”

The public anger towards the recruiting agencies is a product of deep-rooted exploitation culture inherent in recruitment system. Most of the Nepali migrant workers face financial as well as labour exploitation at the hands of their recruiting agencies and employers. Despite paying exorbitant service charge to go abroad for employment, only a few workers get the promised salary.

Huma Kanta Sharma, who works in Malaysia, said the foreign employment agencies are protesting because the new regulation has hit their profiteering business.

“Has anyone seen the pain and sufferings of thousands of Nepalis like me here in Malaysia? The recruitment agencies send workers based on telephone conversations. What do they know anything about our hardship,” he commented on Facebook.

Some workers have expressed their concern over the implementation part of the provision. They have urged the government to introduce a stringent monitoring mechanism.

“It’s praiseworthy decision. The government should strictly enforce it just to make sure that no workers are charged exorbitant fee anymore,” said Manohar Mainali, who is in the process of going to Bahrain. Many workers have also urged the government to make efforts to send

workers through government-to-government channel, instead of relying on recruiting agencies.

“Recruiting agencies are acting as if they are in charge of the government. Your days are gone,” commented Hari Ranabhat, who works in Doha, Qatar.

The government on Monday made it mandatory for employers in seven major work destinations to issue free visa and free ticket to hire Nepali workers. With the decision, those Nepalis looking forward to go to Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait for employment will now have to pay not more than Rs 18,000. Earlier, the recruiting agencies used to charge up to Rs 70,000 each from Gulf-bound workers and Rs 80,000 from those going to Malaysia.

The foreign employment agencies in the country have halted their services from Wednesday in protest of the new provision.

Bimal Dhakal, the chairman of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies, claimed that the decision is an attempt to put them out of their business.

Meanwhile, many civil society members and professionals have said that the provision, if strictly enforced, would benefit some 3.5 million Nepalis working in the Gulf and Malaysia.

They have also urged the government to stick by the decision notwithstanding the protest.

Published: 10-07-2015 08:34

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