As soon as the government announced free visa and free ticket for migrant workers bound for seven destination countries, the recruiting agencies wasted no time in criticizing the decision.
The Ministry of Labor and Employment (MoLE) on 12 June announced that all migrant workers heading for Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Kuwait and Malaysia will be provided free visa and free ticket.
The Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) said that the government’s decision to seek free visa and free ticket for migrant workers is not possible at the moment because it hasn’t held bilateral discussions on the issue with those countries.
General Secretary of the NAFEA Kamal Tamang said it was important to hold bilateral talks with the destination countries before announcing free visa and free tickets for migrant workers.
“We doubt any of the seven destination countries will agree to provide free visa and free ticket to Nepali migrant workers. The government should have held bilateral talks and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) before taking such a decision,” said Tamang.
“How is it possible to send migrant workers at zero cost to the countries with which the government hasn’t signed a MoU?”
He even accused the MoLE of planning to destroy recruiting agencies by introducing such a system.
Under the newly-introduced system, an outbound migrant worker has to pay only up to Rs 17,000, including service charge for recruiting agency, medical test fee, insurance and welfare deposit at Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB). The government claims that the demands for Nepali workers will increase with the implementation of free visa and free ticket policy.
The government has opened 110 countries for foreign employment for aspiring migrant workers but signed MoUs with only five countries: South Korea, Japan, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DoFE), more than 35,00,000 Nepalis have taken work permits till date. As per official estimate, on an average 1,500 to 1,700 Nepalis leave the country for foreign employment every day.