Government mulls social security scheme for migrant Nepali workers

Published On: August 16, 2018 07:28 AM NPT By: Sagar Ghimire  | @sagarghi

KATHMANDU, Aug 16: The government is mulling over providing social security benefits for Nepali workers going abroad. As the government is moving toward implementing contribution-based pension system for government employees, Nepalis in foreign employment are also likely to be enrolled in social security schemes, including retirement saving plans, according to government officials.

The government has already introduced social security scheme for workers in Nepal, requiring employers to list their employees in social security fund that provides various social security benefits for listed workers. However, there was not any social security scheme for Nepali workers plying their trade in foreign land.

“We have already introduced social security system for Nepali workers, including those in informal sectors, on a contributory basis. However, there has not been any social security benefit for millions of Nepalis who are in foreign employment,” Prakash Dahal, a joint secretary at the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, told Republica. “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,” he added.

He, however, said that there are many issues that need to be sorted out before any social security scheme for migrant Nepali workers is rolled out. According to Dahal, the government should also bring on board the employers of labor-receiving countries if any social security scheme is implemented on a contributory basis. “For such scheme, we should have labor agreement with host countries who agree to make their employers contribute on social security scheme, while workers should send their remittances through formal banking channel,” said Dahal. “This is just a plan on the pipeline. We are yet to finalize the modality,” he added. 

Amid request of the Malaysian government to sign bilateral labor agreement following an internal turmoil in the South East Asian nation, Nepal is sell set to sign such agreement with Malaysia. 

The Malaysian government’s decision to shut down Bestinet Shd -- the tainted Malaysian firm that provides biometric service to Malaysia-bound Nepali workers -- last month amid allegations of exploitation of Nepali workers set the deck for the signing of labor agreement.

The Nepal government has stopped sending workers to Malaysia last month after a racket of Malaysian firm extorting money from Malaysia-bound Nepali workers came into its notice.

“The Malaysian government has also shown keen interest on signing the labor contract -- something that we have been pushing for a long time,” said Dahal. “The previous draft of the labor contract that we had sent to Malaysia some five years ago could become a draft for negotiation this time,” he added.

According to online edition of The Sun Daily of Malaysia, Malaysian Human Resource Minister M Kula Segaran on Tuesday said the Malaysian and Nepali governments would sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) soon to resolve the issue of worker intake from the country. “The MoU has already been approved in principle by Nepal. We will now take this up to the cabinet for the necessary approval before going to Nepal to get the matter sorted out,” the daily quoted the minister as saying. “As Nepal is interested in sending their workers here, we are interested in receiving them. Unfortunately, because of the exploitation in between, it (worker intake) has been suspended,” the daily reported the minister as saying in a press meet.

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