Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Remittance pinch to global meltdown blues

Malaysia not hiring, Qatar bent on firing

The cascading effect of global recession is finally going to hit the local home and hearth.
Remittance - one of the major pile-drivers of the economy - is feeling the pinch, thanks to the drastic cut and freeze in recruitment migrant Nepali workers in Qatar and Malaysia. While, the Gulf nation is the most favoured destination for Nepali workforce, the Southeast Asian country comes a close second. The figures tell a stark tale. Of the total foreign workforce in Malaysia, Nepalis comprise a resounding 25 per cent. Altogether, there are 2.1 million foreign workers in Malaysia, of which 0.4 million are Nepalis.
The overwhelming growth will be stunted, albeit temporarily, since Malaysia has imposed a freeze on recruitment for migrant workers to weather the meltdown blues. Also, the Malaysian authorities have taken the step to tide over the domestic unemployment crisis, according the official news agency Bernama that has quoted a senior official.
Datuk Ismail Abdul Rahim, director-general, labour department of Malaysia, told the news agency that the cut was a Human Resource Ministry's decision to give fillip to local employment.
Naturally, Malaysian trade unions have welcomed the move, going a step forward to suggest that contracts of migrants shouldn't be renewed.
The development spells bad news back home as it will put paid to thousands of prospective job-seekers' hopes.
Of the total global remittance, Saudi Arabia tops the list, followed by Qatar and Malaysia.
At a conservative estimate, 1.24 million Nepalis are working abroad.
This, however, doesn't include India, according to Yubraj Pandey, labour secretary. But, the largest number of Nepalis is believed to be working in neighbouring India.
"The figure could be six times higher than the compatriots working in others parts of the globe. Unfortunately, the data isn't available due to our open border with India," explained Pandey.
The labour secretary had an interesting statistics up his sleeve to drive home Nepalis' love for chasing the foreign dream.
"Data reveals that 656 Nepalis leave for various destinations daily in search of greener pastures. Among them, 20 are women," added the senior official.
Lekhraj Bhatta, Minister for Labour and Transport Management, had a word of caution for remittance-dependent families in these recessionary times. People should hold on to their capital rather than going on a buying spree of house, land and luxurious goods as often is the case.
The total contribution of remittance to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is pegged at an impressive 17.4 per cent, according to central bank.

Total no of migrant workers (excluding India): 1.24 million
Total no of migrant workers in Malaysia: more than 0.4 million
Total no of migrant workers' on the move daily: 656 (including 20 women)
Total contribution of remittance to GDP: 17.4%

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