KATHMANDU, Feb 6: The government has given impetus to the process of signing memorandum of understanding (MoU) on employment for Nepali workers with Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The two countries are among the major destinations for Nepali workers. While Nepal has no formal understanding with Oman yet, the MoU with the UAE is long overdue for revision.
As part of negotiations with the two labor-receiving countries, government delegations led by Ram Prasad Ghimire, joint secretary at the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, visited the UAE and Oman last week.
The five-member delegations held separate dialogues with senior officials of Oman on January 27-28 and the UAE on January 31.
Senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, and Nepali ambassadors and labor attachés in the two countries were the members of the respective delegations.
Nepal had signed a labor MoU with the UAE in 2007.
The government has been approaching the Arab nation for revision of the understanding for the past few years, stating that it does not address many upcoming issues related to workers.
During the dialogues, the Nepali side raised issues related to recruiting Nepali workers at zero cost, assurance of minimum wage for workers, insurance coverage outside workplace, leave during the death of family members, and special arrangement for women workers that could be covered in the MoU. Ghimire said that he found both countries positive toward most of the issues raised by the Nepali side to ensure workers’ interests. They have agreed to finalize the MoU drafts as soon as possible, according to Ghimire.
“We want to cover most of the issues of workers in the MoU, while Oman wanted to make it brief and address all other issues through joint technical working committee,” said Ghimire. He, however, added that Oman has agreed to finalize and sign the MoU in the next sitting of negotiations. He said that there were no major differences with the UAE on signing the MoU to replace the older understanding.
“The UAE side has said it will send its final comments on the text of the MoU within a month, after which we will sign the understanding,” he added.
The UAE and Oman are two of the largest recipients of Nepali laborers, out of 167 countries where the government allows Nepali workers to go for employment in individual capacity. The government issues work permit through recruiting agencies only for 108 countries. There are only eight countries with which Nepal has formal labor agreement or MoU.
In the last Fiscal Year 2017/18, the UAE was the third largest destination for Nepali workers with a total of 60,243 individuals acquiring work permit to go for employment.
Oman was the eighth top destination, for which the government issued 3,059 work permits in the same fiscal year, according to the data of Department of Foreign Employment. The data shows that 358,815 work permits were issued in that fiscal year.