KATHMANDU, May 4: Nepal and Oman have finalized the draft of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on sending Nepali workers to the Gulf nation.
A two-day meeting between senior officials of the two countries that concluded in Kathmandu on Friday has given a final touch to the MoU text.
Officials say that the MoU will be signed for the first time between the two countries for sending and receiving Nepali workers.
Ram Prasad Ghimire, joint secretary at the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, told Republica that the MoU will be signed between the two countries after the finalized draft is approved by the cabinet.
Among others, the government of Nepal has been able to secure ‘zero-cost’ facility for Nepali workers to go to Oman for employment. Apart from a provision that will require employers in Oman to bear all the costs of Nepali workers including visa fees and airfare, the MoU will also cover workplace safety, insurance and measures to prevent labor exploitation.
“In this draft, we have been able to establish that employers recruiting workers will be liable to cover all their costs,” said Ghimire.
“We have tried to make the government of Oman responsible to protect the rights of workers and ensure their benefits and facilities. We have not made any compromise in relation to workers’ rights,” he added.
According to Ghimire, Oman has also agreed to provide free access to legal remedy or justice for Nepali workers.
Ghimire had signed the final draft of the MoU on behalf of the government of Nepal while the director general of Labour Welfare at the Ministry of Manpower of Oman has led the delegation of Oman.
Oman is one of the top ten destinations for Nepali workers. According to the data of Department of Foreign Employment, 3,059 Nepali citizens have acquired work permit to go for employment in Oman in the last Fiscal Year 2017/18. The data shows that the department had issued 358,815 work permits for outbound Nepali workers in that fiscal year.
Nepal has long been trying to pursue a labor agreement with Oman. However, the negotiation on the labor pact with the Arab country got a momentum after Minister for Labor, Employment and Social Security Gokarna Bista accorded top priority to signing agreements with countries receiving Nepali workers.
The government has already signed labor pacts with Malaysia and Japan in the last one year, while the MoU with United Arab Emirates (UAE) was also recently finalized. Nepal has so far signed labor agreements with seven countries out of nearly 142 countries where Nepali citizens went for employment in the last Fiscal Year 2017/18.
Though Oman was reportedly pitching a template of labor pact similar to that it had signed with other labor sending countries, Nepal’s insistence to negotiate on its own draft had delayed the process, according to a member of the Nepali delegation.