KATHMANDU, Aug 5: The Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) has intensified crackdown on manpower companies amid rise in reports of noncompliance with the government’s free-visa-free-ticket policy.
On Sunday, DoFE officials raided Kupandole-based Paradise Manpower after a tip-off from workers who were being forced to pay more than Rs 100,000 to go to the United Arab Emirates.
DoFE officials arrested the manpower agency operator after they found ‘evidences’ that the company has been charging prospective workers exorbitantly.
A DoFE official said that the inspection team had caught red-handed a staffer of the manpower agency taking Rs 115,000 from one Kumar Gurung of Tanahun. Gurung had paid the money to secure a UAE job.
“We have seized their document for further probe into the matter,” said the official.
This is the third time since 2016 that Paradise Manpower, one of the biggest manpower companies in the country, was found charging workers exorbitant fees flouting the government’s free-visa-free-ticket policy.
Introduced in July 2015, the low-cost recruitment policy prohibits manpower companies from charging more than Rs 18,000 from workers going to seven countries—Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.
But the manpower companies are hardly abiding by the rule. An investigation by Republica last year found that the companies were charging up to 150,000 per worker while issuing a receipt of Rs 10,000. Labour Minister Gokarna Bista had himself admitted to failure in enforcing the policy.
Officials, however, said that a new change in laws could prove instrumental in enforcing the low-cost recruitment policy. On Friday, the Ministry of Labour and Employment enacted a new rule allowing the DoFE to carry out raids on manpower agencies also on Saturdays and other public holidays, something they weren’t allowed to do before.
Since the new law came into effect, DoFE has raided half a dozen manpower companies and found widespread violation of the low-cost recruitment policy.
It, however, remains unclear whether such raids would discourage manpower agencies from charging exorbitant fees unless it’s supplemented with strong punishment measures.
“This is the third time since 2016, we have found Paradise Manpower charging exorbitant fees, but the company has hardly faced any punishment due to some reason,” said an official.