KATHMANDU, June 8: Immediately after his appointment on Wednesday, newly-appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara has decided to form a high-level taskforce to resolve problems faced by those going for overseas employment.
The taskforce to be coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) will have representatives from the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Labor and Employment. The body is entrusted with the responsibility to analyze the challenges and opportunities of foreign employment and determine immediate, mid-term and long-term priorities to address the problems of the foreign employment sector.
According to a press note sent by Minister Mahara's aide, the taskforce will make a plan to address problems such as non-payment of salaries as promised in the job contract, loss of legal status in the destination countries, workers facing jail terms or getting stranded, and delays in repatriation of dead bodies among other things.
These kinds of problems are typical for those going for work in various Gulf countries and Malaysia. It is estimated that over 1.5 million Nepalis are working in various Gulf countries including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Baharain and Kuwait.
The decision of Minister Mahara comes amid fears that recent diplomatic tensions in the Gulf region could affect tens of thousands of Nepali migrant workers in the region.The diplomatic tension surfaced after Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt jointly decided to sever diplomatic relations with Qatar on Monday.
Giving instructions to MoFA employees on Wednesday itself, Minister Mahara said his priorities are to develop friendly relations with neighbors and other countries, while keeping national interests on top priority.
Minister Mahara argued that MoFA had a special responsibility to protect national interests of the country. “We need to be vigilant not only in the works of our own ministry, but also the activities of other ministries to make sure that their activities do not harm our national interests,” he said.
Mahara also asked the employees to keep their personal interests aside and work in the best interst of the country.
Mahara was welcomed by Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi and other officials at MoFA as he reached there to assume office Tuesday afternoon. Mahara, who was Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister in Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led cabinet, succeeds Prakash Sharan Mahat of Nepali Congress.