Kathmandu, July-19 Talks held between the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) and the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) — the umbrella body of manpower agencies in the country — in a bid to end the protest of the manpower agencies, ended inconclusively, today. Representatives of NAFEA sought more time to consult their members regarding the free visa and ticket provision for foreign job-seekers.
The foreign employment agencies have shut down their business as a protest against the government’s decision to enforce the free visa and ticket rule for job-seekers in six Gulf countries — Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Kuwait — and Malaysia from July 8.
The manpower agencies have put forward a 35-point demand that includes setting up a taskforce to study the free visa and ticket provision. The agencies also want problems regarding licence renewal to be sorted out and a halt in monitoring of agencies.
They have also asked the government to do away with the bio-metric smartcard system for foreign workers and scrap the licence of Malaysia VLN Nepal — a private company which processes documents of Nepalis seeking Malaysian visa on behalf of the Malaysian embassy in Kathmandu. The agencies also want the licences of some new firms to be scrapped, among other demands.
“We’ve sorted out all the issues except for the free visa and ticket rule. We put forward our views on all the other issues and NAFEA representatives are convinced about them,” said Surya Prasad Shrestha, acting secretary of MoLE, adding, “We have clearly told them that we cannot be flexible regarding the free visa and ticket issue.”
The government has barred manpower agencies from charging more than Rs 10,000 that excludes the charge of insurance, welfare fund and medical tests, while sending labourers to the above mentioned destinations. Prior to the enforcement of the free visa and ticket law, manpower agencies were allowed to charge up to Rs 80,000 from a job-seeker looking for employment in Malaysia and Rs 70,000 for Gulf countries. There are 751 manpower firms in the country.
After the government’s firm stance on free visa and ticket provision, NAFEA representatives sought more time for further discussions with their members, according to Acting Secretary Shrestha.
NAFEA’s President Bimal Dhakal said the talk can be concluded if the government agrees to form a study panel before enforcing the decision of free visa and ticket. “Or else we will continue with our protest,” he said. Dhakal further informed that in today’s talks except for the free visa and ticket rule, all other demands raised by agitating manpower agencies were sorted out.