Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Use remittances to develop a pro-migrant worker policy

The government needs to develop a pro-migrant worker policy and utilise remittances to that end, a government sponsored study has suggested.
The study commissioned by the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) and carried out by Nepal Development Study Corporation (NDSC) has suggested five points that include training to migrant workers, exploring new destinations, simplifying remittance policy, and utilisation of the remittance money in the manufacturing sector.
The study has suggested the government to invest at least five per cent of the annual budget in this sector.
Remittance is contributing equal to around one-fifth to the total gross domestic production (GDP), second after the agriculture sector that contributes 32 per cent. NDSC study has further suggested the government to develop separate policy for women migrant workers as a large number of housemaids are suffering from exploitation in destination countries.
Over 1,00,000 Nepali women believed to be working in the Gulf countries –– Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and others –– are vulnerable to exploitation in workplace, according to the study that has revealed the bitter truth of foreign employment, saying ‘around 40-50 per cent Nepalis are leaving the country for overseas jobs through illegal channel'.
According to the report, around 800 Nepalis are leaving the country for overseas jobs every day, which is significantly higher than the previous year. Around three million Nepalis are engaged in jobs overseas, with the Gulf countries and Malaysia together accounting for about 90 per cent of them. According to DoFE, 1,87,149 Nepalis have been employed in overseas jobs last year while in the current year 2,31,943 have already left for foreign jobs.
Foreign employment is generating revenue for the country.
According to the study, the government had earned Rs 1.13 billion from passport and airport tax from migrant workers in 2008-09. Of 4,28,612 passports issued in Nepal, 2,19,965 are migrant workers. Outsourcing and orientation organisations are paying Rs 7.4 million per year as renewal fee. Around 3,43,913 Nepalis are employed abroad.
Training unskilled workers is a major challenge for increasing remittance base for Nepal. Around 75 per cent Nepali workers are unskilled, followed by about 25 per cent semi-skilled and only a nominal per cent of the migrant workers are skilled. Nepali banks and finance companies depend on remittances. According to the study, around 26 commercial banks, two finance companies and 45 remittance companies are engaged in the business. Nepali migrant workers going to the Gulf countries and Malaysia are occupying 58.97 per cent of the total seats in airways that fly to these destinations. Of 7,172 weekly air seats to the destinations, migrant workers occupy 4,230 seats.

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