Enhancing public service delivery: The labor permit approval model

Published On: April 14, 2024 07:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

It is said that the word 'impossible' is only in the dictionary of fools. From flying airplanes to developing radios, from constructing undersea roads to enabling space travel, everyone has proven this. Indeed, nothing is impossible for those who are determined and willing. Obtaining labor permit approval is one such case in point. Previously, obtaining the permit, which is mandatory for foreign employment, took three to four days. Now, all the procedures are completed quickly, and such approval can be obtained within about three minutes. Newly-appointed Labor Minister Dol Prasad Aryal has stated that even with power outages, internet disruptions, and other technical issues, it will not take more than an hour to receive the labor permit. Newly-appointed Labor Minister DP Aryal deserves appreciation for this initiative. If other ministers could similarly enhance the delivery of services under their respective departments, the lives of ordinary citizens in the country would improve significantly.

Going abroad for study, travel, and work is a natural choice. However, in Nepal, foreign travel is often compulsory due to the lack of job opportunities for the poor, driving many young people to seek employment overseas. At this time, various processes must be completed, with labor approval being the primary one. Those seeking foreign employment previously experienced significant stress due to delays in obtaining this crucial document. Firstly, those who have the capability to work locally do not typically seek foreign employment. Secondly, those who do often fund their travel through loans. A large part of such loans is spent on coming to, staying in, and preparing documents like passports, work permits, and medical checks in the federal capital. The new system implemented by the Ministry of Labor has somewhat relieved the stress for those going abroad for work. Minister Aryal attributes the rapid processing of labor approvals to the hard work of the staff at the Foreign Employment Office. This raises the question: if the office staff employ smart strategies, work diligently, and use the latest techniques, even minimally, services can be significantly improved. We often focus on instructing employees on what not to do rather than how to perform tasks efficiently. Why wasn’t this approach adopted earlier? Their small contribution significantly eases the stress on beneficiaries. Why wasn’t this thought of before? The contribution of the office staff is now appreciated, albeit belatedly. In Nepal, there is a tendency to extend special thanks to those who are paid salaries from taxes. Such appreciation becomes noteworthy because of widespread confusion and despair elsewhere.

Lately, the government-owned Public Health Laboratory at Teku Hospital has been found well-organized; obtaining citizenship and passports at the Kathmandu District Administration Office has become relatively easier compared to the past, and renewing a driving license no longer takes as long. However, there are still many places where service seekers become anxious days before they must visit those offices. It seems as if these offices were established not to serve the public but to exacerbate their stress and hardships, such as land revenue and survey offices. They suffer for days under various pretexts such as missing documents, incomplete processes, or mismatched names. Why should service seekers be punished for the offices’ shortcomings? Therefore, other government agencies in Nepal can take lessons from thecForeign Employment Office. Those who claim that improvement is not possible should not hold their positions. We urge all concerned, including Minister Aryal, to take special initiatives to give continuity to the work he has initiated. His role is also crucial in addressing issues that arise between obtaining labor approval and sending workers abroad. If the public could easily secure jobs abroad without relying on middlemen, it would indeed be one of the greatest achievements he could make during his term as minister.

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