Almost half of the Nepali migrant workers go abroad under individual labor approval, as per the report prepared by the Department of Foreign Employment (DoEF). Under the system, the workers are responsible for their safety and compensation. The Foreign Employment Act of Nepal does not allow the country to take responsibility of workers going abroad on their own.
A majority of the workers who go abroad under individual labor approval go to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. More than seven thousand workers received such an approval for Qatar, more than six thousand for Saudi Arabia and around five thousand for the UAE. Sadly, these are the destinations where Nepali migrant workers face multiple issues ranging from lack of proper working environment to low compensation.
After the government implemented free visa, free ticket, manpower agencies cannot take more than 10,000 rupees for their service. In order to evade the system, many individuals, including Non-Resident Nepalis (NRNs), have been found to be involved in individual labor approval business. This allows the middlemen to charge exuberant amount to potential migrant workers. Such exploitation of poor Nepalis must be punished by the government and that individual labor approval must be ended for good.
This ongoing problem with foreign employment also underscores the urgent need to create jobs inside the country. The World Bank estimates that Nepal must create 240,000 jobs per year to maintain the employment rate as the working age population is increasing by 35,000 per month. This means new industries must be setup at a faster rate so that our workers are able to get decent jobs here and that they do not have to suffer in hot deserts in the Middle East.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has been talking about rapid economic growth for a while now. He must walk the talk and direct relevant ministries to enable favorable environment for both domestic and foreign investments. No company would want to set up factories in a place where there is political uncertainty and poor infrastructure. Lack of proper roads, railways and communication channels increase the cost of doing business. Our highways need urgent repairs. The Nepali migrant workers who are undergoing immense pain and humiliation in the foreign land would be more than happy to work for the same amount inside the country. It is now upon the new government to dream big and be bold innovative in creating enough jobs for Nepalis so that no one has to suffer in foreign land.