Migrant workers will now pay up to Rs 2,500 into welfare fund
August 1, 2017 07:43 AM
KATHMANDU, July 31: Nepalis going abroad for employment will now have to deposit up to Rs 2,500 in the Migrant Workers’ Welfare Fund (MWWF), depending on the duration of their work tenure, according to a revised regulation on foreign employment unveiled on Monday.
The revision, which comes just three months after the Dahal government increased by around 60 percent the insurance premium for outbound migrants, is expected to further increase the economic burden for around 2.5 million Nepali migrant workers who are already paying through the nose to land employment abroad.
The Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB) said on Monday that Nepalis taking up jobs overseas with a three-year work contract will have to deposit Rs 1,500, while the deposits for work contracts that exceed three years will be Rs 2,500. Migrants going to the Gulf and Malaysia usually get three-year work contracts, while those going to Korea, Israel, America and countries in Europe tend to have five-year contracts and will have to pay Rs 2,500
Earlier, every out-bound migrant worker had to deposit a lump sum of Rs 1,000 irrespective of work destination country.
Workers’ groups and activists have stood against raising the levy amount, arguing that the government was already struggling to make proper use of the MWWF, which already amounts to around Rs 3.5 billion.
They have long been criticizing the FEPB for misuse of the funds and for failing to bring a tangible package for the welfare of migrants and their families. FEPB has been doing precious little except providing compensation for injured and deceased workers.
Every year, FEPB spends millions from the migrants’ fund on the administrative expenses of frontline offices and Nepali embassies in the work destination countries. Contrary to the spirit of the regulations, MWWF is also used for the overseas visits of government officials, for buying vehicles and providing training for government staff, manpower agencies and embassy officials. Last year, Nepal’s embassies in Korea, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia purchased vehicles with money from the fund.
In the past few months, around two dozen government employees including Labour Secretary Laxman Prasad Mainali, Director General of Department of Foreign
Employment Bishwa Raj Pandey and FEPB Executive Director General Raghu Raj Kafle visited the Philippines, Qatar and some European countries. MWWF had to foot part of the bill.
Raghuraj Kafle, executive director of FEPB, said that the levy was increased in view of the Dahal government’s decision to increase the relief package for injured migrants and the kin of deceased migrants.
In January, then PM Dahal had announced that the government would provide Rs 700,000 to ‘documented migrants’ who die abroad. “Kin of migrants who die abroad will get Rs 700,000 from today. The funds will also be used to provide free legal aid to migrants in the labour destinations,” said Kafle.
He said that FEPB is introducing various new programmes targeting migrants’ and their families.