More insurance, welfare plan for migrant workers unveiled

Published On: January 25, 2017 01:20 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

A migrant worker to get up to Rs 2.7 million under social welfare and insurance 
KATHMANDU, Jan 25: From now onwards, the kin of a Nepali migrant worker who dies in course of foreign employment will get up to Rs 2.7 million under social welfare and insurance schemes. 

A  migrant worker so far gets Rs 300,000 as compensation from the Foreign Employment Promotion Board if he/she dies in a foreign country, and an additional Rs 500,000 from the employer company under insurance policy. 

In this connection, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal announced a detailed scheme Tuesday at his official residence. As per the announcement, the government has decided to provide an additional Rs 400,000 in the compensation provided by the board. The Foreign Employment Act will also be amended to increase the compensation amount for migrant workers. 

Stating that his government has been doing its best to address the woes of the foreign employment sector, the prime minister said a migrant worker would get Rs 2 million under health insurance and an additional Rs 700,000 under a welfare scheme. 

As per the announcement, a migrant worker will get Rs 1 million under life insurance, Rs 200,000 as lost income, Rs 100,000 for funeral expenses, Rs 100,000 for transporting the body of the dead migrant worker, and Rs 500,000 in case of fatal diseases. A migrant worker suffering from any disease categorized as fatal would get Rs 500,000 for treatment.

The diseases characterized as fatal include cancer, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, major organ transplant, coronary artery bypass grafts, aorta graft surgery, heart valve surgery, stroke, myocardial infarction, first heart attack, coma, total blindness, paralysis, benign brain tumor and mental illness due to accident. 

The announcement will come into effect February 12. 

The new scheme comes at a time when droves of youths are leaving the country in search of employment.  Dahal blamed internal problems for the miseries faced by migrant workers. "Our internal problems are responsible for the failure to make foreign employment a descent proposition," said Dahal while unveiling his plan in the presence of journalists. Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat and foreign employment officials were also present on the occasion. "Civil servants, manpower companies and immigration are the ones who are more responsible for this. I have already instructed them to improve their working methods," Dahal said.

It is mostly unskilled youths who go abroad for employment in the absence of job opportunities within the country. 

Records with the government show that it is mostly unskilled laborers who lose their lives in accidents while working abroad. 

On an average, above 1,500 people leave the country every day for 110 different  countries where the government has officially allowed Nepalis to work, according to foreign employment officials. Over 700 manpower companies are active in supplying mostly unskilled youths to the foreign job market. 

In lack of employment at home, unemployed youths often end up in war-torn countries like Iraq and Syria. They sometimes come under deadly attack by Islamic militants.

Twelve Nepali youths were killed in Iraq in 2004 and 13 Nepali security guards died last June in a bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Unswayed by these deadly incidents and following pressure from foreign diplomatic missions in Kathmandu, the government lifted a ban  it had imposed on some countries immediately after the Afghanistan killings. 

Deaths, exploitation, abuse and sufferings have not discouraged youths from going aboard. 

Govt to issue permits for Nepali workers in India
The government has introduced a new policy of recognizing workers going to India just as with migrant workers going to the Gulf and elsewhere. 

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Tuesday announced that the government is to regulate Nepali migrant workers going to India, issuing them permission letters and provide insurance and other facilities such as are enjoyed by migrant workers in other countries. This is the first time that the government has decided to regulate Nepalis working in India since the signing of the  Nepal-India Treaty of Peace and Friendship,1950. 

“Now onwards, those going to work in India have to obtain a permission from the district administration office (DAO). Before issuing such permission the DAO has to enlist them for a mandatory insurance and welfare fund,” states the scheme. 

Migrant workers living in India will get Rs 750,000 as temporary life insurance from the Foreign Employment Promotion Board, an additional Rs 500,000 for the treatment of critical illnesses and also  another Rs 150,000 from the Board. 

Migrant experts have lauded the government announcement, terming it a 'good move”. “It is a good move. We were doing nothing for seasonal migrant workers, citing the 1950 treaty even as  the poorest of the poor were suffering in India. It's really a good move,” said migration expert Ganesh Gurung. 

Gurung, a former member of the National Planning Commission, suggested to the government to enforce the scheme strictly. “I still see some challenges in implementing this decision. An awareness campaign should be launched among the public and the police working at the border and officials at the nodal points should remain highly active to make this move a success.”  

Most of the poor in the mid and far-western regions of the country go to India in search of work and often loose their lives or face injuries during work. 

An estimated 3 million Nepalis are said to be working India as seasonal laborers. 

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