06/18/2009, 00.00
NEPAL

Global economic crisis impacts on Nepal’s migrant workers

Kalpit Parajuli
Departures for foreign countries are down by 10 per cent. Manpower agencies are losing applicants but job placement through personal contacts is up.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – The number of Nepali migrant workers leaving for foreign destinations during the first 11 months of the current fiscal year is down by 10 per cent from last year. Departures dropped from 219,458 a year ago to 197,347. However, the number of jobseekers going to foreign lands by using personal contacts surged.

The trend of finding employment through personal contact had increased due to fear among manpower agencies caused by the global recession, said Mohan Krishna Sapkota, director general of the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE).

Agencies “are afraid of sending fresh workers, and entertain only genuine demands from foreign employers,” Sapkota explained.

By contrast, departures because of personal contacts rose from 12,637 to 40,658 individuals, an increase of 234.99 per cent during the same period.

Manpower agencies complain that part of the problem is DoFE’s red tape, which is not the case for individuals who do it alone.

Nepalis are working in more than 50 countries. Qatar (68,844), Saudi Arabia (44,741) and Malaysia (31,157) top the list.

The current slump has especially affected migrant workers going to South Asia. For instance, the number of Nepalis going to work in Malaysia began declining in mid-August 2008 due to falling demand.

In January of this year the DoFE stopped issuing work permits to new workers after the Malaysian government announced it would stop recruiting foreign workers citing the worldwide financial crisis.

Nepal’s recent political crisis has also had an impact on migrant labour.

The resignation of Prime Minister Prachanda and the tug-of-war between the Maoist leader and President Ram Baran Yadav have weakened the government’s ability to protect the rights of Nepalis working abroad.

As fewer Nepalis go abroad to work less foreign money flows back into the country, and this is having a significant impact on the national economy.

For example, according to the Non-residential Nepalese Association (NRN), remittances by the almost seven millions Nepalis working abroad represent 40 per cent of the government’s annual budget.

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