Enroll migrant workers in provident fund, social security schemes, govt told

Published On: January 30, 2019 09:24 AM NPT By: Sagar Ghimire  | @sagarghi

KATHMANDU, Jan 30: A high-level task force formed to study the possibility of enrolling workers going for foreign employment in the country’s social security system has recommended to the government to include them in foreign employment provident fund and various social security schemes of the government. 

The nine-member task force led by the Secretary of Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, Mahesh Prasad Dahal, submitted its report to the Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security Gokarna Bista. 

The taskforce was formed on August 24 through a minister-level decision to suggest ways to bring people involved in foreign employment under the social security system and recommend appropriate framework to enroll them in provident fund and social security schemes of the government.

An estimated 500,000 new people join the labor market every year. Among them, nearly 390,000 have been flying abroad annually to seek employment opportunities. According to the Economic Survey of Fiscal Year 2017/18, nearly 4.3 million Nepalis have flown abroad for employment opportunities. 

“While they serve in foreign countries when they are fit and fine, they come to Nepal for retirement, or when they become unemployed or take ill. The government has to bear liabilities of social security of such workers. So, there is a need to devise a social security plan for such workers as well,” reads the report of the taskforce.

The taskforce has recommended that those Nepali workers, who have gone or will go for employment after acquiring work permit, those who are doing businesses abroad and non-resident Nepalis, should be brought into the foreign employment provident fund and social security schemes in a phase-wise manner. 

The listing of workers heading for foreign employment in the provident fund and social security schemes can be carried out while issuing work permit itself. For those who are already in employment, they can be listed either during the re-entry or through diplomatic missions in respective countries, the taskforce has said in its report. It has even suggested taking help of the Non-Resident Nepali Association in the listing process.

The taskforce has also recommended that people in foreign employment can make annual contribution of a minimum of Rs 24,000 and a maximum of Rs 300,000 to sign up in social security schemes.

Employers can directly deposit the contribution by deducting the worker’s salary and depositing the amount into the Nepali bank account in respective countries, while foreign employment provident fund can partner with remittance transfer companies or bank and financial institutions to collect the contributory fund at once or at a regular interval, the taskforce has suggested. It has also concluded that the social security schemes and provident fund should be made mandatory for migrant workers.

According to the taskforce, payment from the contribution can be made in certain conditions like after the contributor crosses 60 years of age, becomes physically disabled to make income and return after completing foreign employment. It has also recommended that the government make a time-bound plan to implement social security schemes and provident fund for people involved in foreign employment.

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