Nepal lucrative for foreign workers

Modnath Dhakal

Kathmandu, Aug. 11: Nepal is known as one of the top suppliers of migrant labour in the Middle East and Gulf countries and elsewhere in the world. But, while Nepali migrant labourers have obtained permits to work in more than 153 countries till 2017, foreigner workers from 65 countries are employed in different jobs here in Nepal.

Approximately 1,531 foreigners – 1301 male and 230 female – from Asia, Africa, Europe, Americas and Australia were legally working in Nepal in the last Fiscal Year 2018/19, according to the recent statistics of the Department of Labour and Occupational Safety (DoLOS).

In the previous fiscal 2017/18, about 1,694 individuals – 1456 male and 238 female – from 62 countries had obtained the work permit.

China is the top source country of migrant workers in Nepal. The growth in the inflow of Chinese tourists had resulted in more Chinese restaurants, shops and businesses which contributed in more workers in from there.
According to the DoLOS, about 6,500 Chinese workers are legally employed in Nepal. The number of workers from the United Kingdom, United States of America, and Bangladesh is also significant.

The majority of the European and American workers are employed in service sectors like the international donor organisations and International Non-Government Organisations. The statistics show that a small number of foreigner – about 80 individuals, are working in the manufacturing sector as well.

Though it is not verified, it has long been said that there are more than 50,000 illegal foreign workers in Nepal.
Labour expert Dr. Ganesh Gurung said that there was no fix policy to hire foreign workers in any sector in

Nepal. “In other countries, a company interested in hiring a foreign worker should prove that the required skill was not available in the domestic workers. There are strict conditions,” he said.

A jewellery entrepreneur said that the gem and jewellery sector has employed a significant number of Bangladeshi and Bengali workers as the artisans.

But, Krishna Lal Maharjan, Secretary of the Federation of Nepalese Gold, Silver, Gem and Jewellery Associations, said that the although foreigners from third countries were involved in various types of jobs, most of the artisans of the jewellery industry are from India.

Although statistics show that only 41 Indians obtained work permits in the last fiscal, hundreds of thousands of Indians are employed permanently or temporarily in Nepal. Although the number of Indian workers in Nepal is not known accurately, they send about Rs. 325 billion in remittance from Nepal to their home country.

But, the amount could be much higher as the daily wage-based and seasonal Indian workers take a significant amount of money from Nepal.

It is a paradox that Nepal youth leave home in search of job abroad while Indian and other foreigners have been making money back in their country.

Dr. Gurung said that it was a depressing scenario. “If the government can only bring the youth from the mid-western and western hills to eastern districts rather than allowing them to go to India for seasonal jobs, it would significantly contribute to the economy,” he said.

Prabal Jung Pandey, Member of the Employers’ Council at the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), said that it was government’s duty to keep track of the both legal and illegal foreign workers employed in the country.

“The private sector is conscious not to hire illegal workers. We employ foreign workers only when there is a need of special skills and technical know-how,” he said.

Published: 11 August 2019/ The Rising Nepal

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