Minister Gurung drops hint at revising scheme

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

Aug 30, 2016-

Newly appointed Minister for Labour and Employment Surya Man Gurung has hinted at revising the “free-visa-free-ticket” policy if the low cost recruitment scheme continues to have adverse impact on the remittance.  

Minister Gurung made such remarks during an interaction with representatives of the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (Nafea) who claimed that the free-visa-free-ticket policy was behind the drop in inflow of remittance from the labour destinations. 

“The introduction of policy should have increased the remittance. But the remittance is decreasing instead. Everyone should reflect on this issue,” said Minister Gurung. 

According to the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), the remittance growth rate slowed to 7.7 percent in the fiscal year 2015-16, a decline of almost 50 percent compared to the previous year when it was 13.6 percent.

Though the inflow of remittance started to drop after the introduction of the low cost recruitment scheme, there is no evidence that suggests the free-visa-free-ticket policy was the only factor responsible for the drop. 

While the policy might have affected the job demands from countries like Malaysia to some extent, experts point to other factors including plummeting oil prices, turmoil in the Middle East and stagnant economic growth of the work destination countries for the decline. 

During the meeting held at Ministry of Labour and Employment on Monday, Nafea Chairman Bimal Dhakal urged Minister Gurung to correct the mistakes made by the past government. Nafea General Secretary Rohan Gurung said that the government should amend the Foreign Employment Act and release the report of a committee formed to revise the service charge. 

The policy, which came into force on July 8 last year, makes it binding for employers of seven labour receiving countries--Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman--to provide free air ticket and visa for migrant workers. Moreover, the recruiting agencies are permitted to charge a maximum of Rs10,000 from workers going to these countries, while they are allowed to charge up to Rs80,000 before the policy came into being. 

The government’s policy had come as a great respite for migrant workers who are forced to pay hefty sums to get a job abroad. But recruiting agencies in cahoots with a section of government officials are trying to get the scheme scrapped by presenting unfounded facts and figures. 

After failed efforts to convince the previous government to scrap the free-visa-free-ticket policy, Nafea representatives have intensified meetings with the new ministers hoping to revise the law related to foreign employment. They are hopeful that the new government under the CPN (Maoist Centre) would either scrap the policy or increase the service free. A majority of Nafea office bearers are affiliated to the Nepali Congress and are said to donate millions of rupees to the party each year.

Published: 30-08-2016 18:52

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