Migration falls to its lowest in four years

- ROSHAN SEDHAI, Kathmandu

Jul 25, 2016-

The number of Nepalis leaving for overseas jobs fell to its lowest in more than four years even as Nepal continues to receive a steady worker demand.

The Department of Foreign Employment issued work permits to 418,713 individuals in the fiscal year 2015-16, an 18 percent drop from 512,887 Nepali migrants who took up overseas jobs in the corresponding period earlier.

Experts said that a growth in job opportunities at home is the main reason behind the drop in outmigration. They expect a further decline as the multi-billion-dollar post-earthquake reconstruction picks up pace in the months ahead.

“Many found it more profitable to work in their own neighbourhood than going to the Gulf countries,” said Ganesh Gurung, a foreign employment expert.

Nepal will need at least 700,000 skilled and unskilled labourers for rebuilding works, according to an estimate of the Post Disaster Needs Assessment report. More than 500,000 houses were destroyed and over 250,000 partially damaged by the April earthquake and its aftershocks last year, according to preliminary surveys. Of them, 31,000 quake survivors have rebuilt their homes so far, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

But recruiting agencies claim that the free-visa-fee-ticket policy should also be blamed for the decline as foreign employers are sending fewer job demands after the scheme came into effect.

“Especially in Malaysia, many employers have stopped demanding Nepali workers after the government made it mandatory to provide [free air] tickets,” said Bal Bahadur Tamang, former chair of the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies. Tamang said the drop in oil prices, turmoil and sluggish economic growth across the Middle East were also responsible for the decline.

Government statistics show that only 60,979 people took permits to go to Malaysia in the past year, a drastic drop year-on-year. At least 202,828 people had sought permit to go to Malaysia a year earlier. Saudi Arabia emerged as the largest recipient of Nepali labourers, followed by Qatar. Saudi Arabia and Qatar respectively absorbed 138,529 and 129,038 Nepali workers in the given period.

Foreign Employment Department officials said that the number of outbound workers might rebound in the coming months due to a growth in demand. Nepal received 1,229,542 job demands in the last one year, mostly from the two desert emirates. The demands must be fulfilled within the next two years.

working abroad

Year    departures

69-70     453,543

70-71    527,814

71-72     512,887

72-73     418,713

Published: 25-07-2016 11:50

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