More than three-quarters of the 500,000 people entering the labor market are forced to go for foreign employment. The number of migrant workers in Nepal is increasing day by day along with the increase in the number of people going for foreign employment because of lack of employment in the country.
According to the Department of Foreign Employment, more than 400,000 workers used to go for foreign employment before Covid-19. Following the Covid pandemic, the number has decreased to 100,000. But due to the lack of employment in the country, the number of people wanting to go abroad to work is compelling. On the other hand, despite the decrease in the number of migrant workers due to the covid situation, Nepal’s industry and business sector complain of not getting enough workers.
Industrialists claim that the problem arises when there are no trained and skilled workers. Foreign nationals are working in Nepal’s service sectors, mega-projects with foreign investment projects, construction sector, information technology, and also as pilots and engineers among other professions. Despite the dominance of Indian migrant workers in most parts of Nepal, the government has not been able to keep accurate statistics on foreign nationals employed here.
The Department of Labor and Occupational Affairs says that 1,437 foreign nationals from 59 countries have received labor permits till the first week of April. According to the department, more than 2,000 foreign nationals have been working with labor permits in a year. The Labor Act 2074 and the Labor Rules 2075 have set strict criteria for the acceptance of foreign workers. Any company employing foreigners can only hire up to 5 percent of its total workers.
According to Maninath Gop, director of the department, the number of new and renewed foreign workers has decreased in recent times. According to the department, 1,028 people from China, 62 from the United Kingdom, 46 from Japan, 45 from India, 38 from the United States, 29 from Korea, 24 from Spain, 16 from the Philippines, 14 from France, 13 from Australia and 11 from Germany have received work permits.
President of the Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Shekhar Golchha says that about 800,000 Indian citizens are working in Nepal. “Currently, there are 780,000 Indian workers working in Nepal. Nepali employers are looking to hire local people but not getting enough workers. It is important to find out the reason why this is happening,” says Golchha. FNCCI states that despite discussions on increasing investment and job creation in the country, it has not happened. Chairman Golchha says that although labor conditions are improving, much remains to be done to make labor relations sustainable and reliable.
The share of migrant workers in the gross domestic product is more than 25 percent. With more than Rs 8 trillion in remittances, the number of Nepalis going abroad has decreased after Covid-19 and remittances have declined. A total of 461,455 people have returned home after losing their jobs due to covid. Millions of young people who want to go abroad are left unemployed.
Economist Gyanendra Adhikari says that the government prioritize creation of employment in the country. He says that foreign nationals could be displaced if the workers could be made efficient by giving them work on the spot. Although the government has announced a partnership with the private sector in the current fiscal year to employ Nepali workers, it has not been implemented yet.