29 November 2015, Kathmandu Post
Nov 29, 2015- The number of Nepali migrants going to Malaysia has fallen drastically after the government made it mandatory for overseas employers to provide free tickets and visa to workers.
Malaysia, the largest destination for Nepali workers, hired only 25,635 Nepali workers in the last three months, nearly 68 percent less than what it hired in the same period a year earlier, according to the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE).
As a result of low demand from Malaysia, there has been slight increase in the number of workers going to countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The free-visa-free-ticket regime, which came into effect from July 8 this year, obligates the employers from seven labour receiving countries of the Gulf and Malaysia to bear cost of visa processing and air ticket to hire workers from Nepal. “We have seen nearly 80 percent decline in job demand from Malaysia in recent months. It means we can expect the number to drop further in the coming days,” said DoFE Director Bhesh Bahadur Karki.
Except in the security sector, where only Nepali citizens are eligible to work, there has been a drop in demand in all other sectors, including plantation and manufacturing.
The scheme, which applies to workers going to Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, is expected to reduce financial burden of aspirant migrants by a significant margin.
Under the new provision, Malaysia-bound workers have to pay a maximum of Rs 20,000 as recruitment fee, down from Rs120,000 they had to pay to go even for unskilled jobs.
Recruiting agencies in Nepal said that Malaysian employers, mostly smaller companies, have started to hire workers from Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia after Nepal adopted the low recruitment policy. Malaysia earlier this year had signed an agreement with Bangladesh to recruit 1.5 million workers within three years.
“Countries like Bangladesh are not only providing cheaper workers but also paying hefty sum in commissions to local agents for providing job quotas. Recruiting agencies here were doing the same earlier but it’s impossible to do that with the new rule in place,” said Bal Bahadur Tamang, former chairperson of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies.
Malaysian employers generally hire workers through local agents who recruit migrant workers from various labour receiving countries. The job demands are given to recruiting agencies from countries willing to pay demanded commission. Furthermore, smaller employers are not willing to fund air ticket and visa.