Kathmandu, Dec. 29: Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Narayan Khadka has said that the government has been raising the issues of safe migration and the protection of the rights and welfare of the Nepali migrant workers with priority in the bilateral and multilateral forums.
Addressing the 'Kantipur IME Migration and Remit Summit' here today, he said the government has been voicing for the protection of the rights and interests of the Nepalis who have reached 76 countries in course of the overseas employment through the legal channel.
Minister Khadka shared that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Labour were working in a coordinated way for addressing the problems of the Nepalis who have the international labour market.
Stressing on the need for intensive consultations and policy-level collaboration between the two ministries for systematizing the 'Free Visa, Free Ticket' facility to the Nepali migrant workers, he said the value of remittances could not be overlooked as it was the hard-earned money sent back by the Nepali workers from foreign lands.
"The Nepali youths are cheated at each and every step due to the absence of monitoring and evaluation," Minister Khadka said about the bitter truth of the Nepalis facing challenges right from the Tribhuvan International Airport in their onward travel abroad in course of foreign employment.
Presenting the data that 275 million were out of their country worldwide, the Foreign Affairs Minister said various countries have urged the government to supply skilled human resources and also appreciated their honesty and efforts. "The countries providing employment have liked the Nepalis compared to the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis," he said, indicating to the growing demand for Nepali workers in the international labour market.
The Minister said that the government expected cooperation from all sectors of society for making the foreign employment dignified and systematic by overcoming the various challenges the nation is facing with regard to the foreign employment sector. In this connection, he referred to topics like all aspects of the foreign employment, the contribution of remittances to the country's GDP, the misuse of remittance in the unproductive sector, the problems mostly faced by the Nepali workers in the Gulf countries and Malaysia, the injustice by the employers not paying the remuneration for overtime work, the problems faced by the women workers, among others.
Stating that poverty was gradually reducing in the country as the economy has been made mobile by the remittance inflow, he said 18 per cent of Nepalis were still under the absolute poverty line. The government has the goal of reducing poverty to a single digit by 2030.
"One person has gone for foreign employment from 76 per cent of households of the country. The money remitted home by these workers is being used in unproductive sectors like purchasing television and mobile sets and spending for wedding parties," the Foreign Affairs Minister said indicating how the hard-earned remittance was being used in the unproductive sector.
He also expressed concern that remittance was being used for importing rice worth Rs 44 billion annually.
He said it was not only being used in the unproductive sector but was also supporting the economy hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic by contributing to the education, health and some productive sectors as well. Minister Khadka said serious attention should be given in managing the remittance which is a key part of the national economy.
The Minister pointed out the need for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Health and Population to work collaboratively for addressing the complex problems faced by the workers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.