Govt mulling options without nulling policy

  • free-visa-free-ticket issue
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Apr 8, 2016-

In the wake of strong arguments for and against the free-visa-free-ticket regime, the government has started exploring possibilities of increasing service charges while retaining the low-cost policy that binds the overseas-based employers to provide air ticket and visa to migrant workers. 

 Officials at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, who are in negotiation with 

the foreign employment recruiting agencies, said that they are in a bid to find “a middle path”. 

“One possibility which is under discussion is increasing service charge,” said an official at the MoLE on condition of anonymity. “But there won’t be any changes in rule that binds employers to provide ticket and visa.”

MoLE officials said that there could be at least twofold increase in the existing service charge of Rs 10,000, as it would address the demand of the recruiting agencies and bring the foreign employment business under the tax regime. It, however, remains unclear whether the proposal will actually materialise as the government is under increasing pressure from rights groups and civil society members not to make any changes in the current provision.

The proposal was originally floated by representatives of the recruiting agencies who were previously demanding that the low-cost regime be scrapped altogether. The agencies are also lobbying to get political backing on their proposal arguing that they are not completely against the low-cost recruitment scheme.  

However, rights groups and experts have said that the proposal contradicts the spirit of the free-visa-free-ticket policy as its main aim is to reduce the cost. “The primary goal of the low-cost recruitment policy was to reduce financial burden of migrant workers. The policy would be meaningless if the government increases the service charge,” said Ganesh Gurung, a foreign employment expert.

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-    Recruitment agencies have proposed at least twofold increase in the existing service charge of Rs 10,000, and the government is discussing this option, saying it could address their demand and bring the foreign employment business under the tax regime

-    Rights groups and civil society members argue that increasing service charge will make the free-visa-free-ticket policy meaningless as the main objective of introducing the low-cost scheme is to lessen the financial burden of migrant workers

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Insurance cover doubled

KATHMANDU: The government has finally decided to double the insurance cover for Nepali migrant workers. They will now have to buy an insurance scheme worth Rs 1 million--up from current Rs 500,000. Families of migrant workers who die in the work destination will now be entitled to Rs 1.4 million in insurance claim and assistance for repatriation of the bodies and final rites. They will also get additional Rs 300,000 from the Migrant Workers Welfare Fund. (PR)

Published: 08-04-2016 07:09

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