Recruiting agencies panel meets ministers

- Post Report, Kathmandu
NAFEA team urges PM Oli to review plan to hike new licence fee

Aug 5, 2018-Recruiting agencies that supply Nepali workers to foreign countries have started political lobbying to spike the government’s proposal to increase new licence fee 20 times more than the current Rs 3 million.

A delegation of labour companies has met with top political leaders, including Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, to express their reservations over the proposed revised fee to register new recruiting agencies.

The team led by Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA)—the umbrella organisation of recruiting agencies—on Friday, met the PM at Baluwatar.

The delegation met with Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ishwar Pokharel, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa and urged them to reconsider the proposal to hike licence fee, proposed by the Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security Gokarna Bista.

Recruiting agencies’ representatives are desperate to meet and lobby with more top leaders of the ruling party to convince them to reverse the proposed licence fee hike.

The Labour ministry has proposed to raise the licence fees for new entrant in the foreign employment sector to Rs 60 million, a 20-fold increase from the earlier fees of three million rupees.

Currently, recruiting agencies would be paying total Rs 3 million - 700,000 in cash and 2.3 million as bank guarantee as a deposit - for a new licence.

In stark contrast, experts have lauded the government decision, saying the move will yield result in the long run by bringing down fraud and cheating migrant workers.

According to migration expert Ganesh Gurung, the success of government’s proposed hike in new licence fee depends on how they react to pressure from agencies.

“Owners of recruiting agencies have met with top leaders. They have threatened to shut down their agencies. Now, we need to see how the government stands, whether in favour of migrant workers or manpower companies,” said Gurung.

The current proposal is among many provisions that need amendment in the existing Foreign Employment Act and other labour laws under the Some Nepal Acts amendment.  Labour Minister Bista says the proposed increase in licence fee aims to manage and institutionalise the sector.

“The government is moving towards managing and institutionalising the foreign employment sector. This is not possible without recruiting agencies’ support. They should not have any problem when we are trying to bring reforms in the sector that is maligned with wrongdoings,” said Bista.

Increasing the licence fees would control the number of recruiting agencies operating in this business. This would decrease cheating of migrant workers by hiring agencies, the government hopes. The government hopes high fee would encourage agencies to go for mergers because the majority of registered companies are either not operating or dispatching a small number of workers abroad.

“For a country like Nepal, the number of such agencies is already high. We have given them the option for merger. Therefore, there is nothing to panic,” said Minister Bista.  He also pointed out that current deposit is not enough for rescuing workers when they are stranded in foreign countries.

Gurung also believes the hike in licence fees would minimise number of small labour agencies that are mostly involved in cheating of migrant workers and take no responsibility in rescuing stranded migrant workers.

“With this move, the government is trying to take a safe approach. Many times labour companies do nothing when migrant workers need to be rescued. Whereas big companies take responsibilities. Big companies get demand of workers directly from employers so there is less chance of cheating,” said Gurung, adding, chances of such agencies going for voluntary merger are slim. 

Published: 05-08-2018 07:28

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