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Ensure migrant workers’ voting rights: Lawmakers

Ensure migrant workers’ voting rights: Lawmakers

The Industry, Commerce, Labor and Consumer Welfare Committee of the House of Representatives has instructed the government to take steps to ensure that Nepali workers employed abroad get to exercise their right to vote in periodic elections.  

The committee meeting held at Singhadurbar on Thursday instructed the government to take steps for securing abroad-based Nepalis’ right to vote, noting that a large number of Nepalis are outside the country.

According to the National Population and Housing Census-2021, 7.5 percent of the national population of roughly 29m is living abroad. Out of the 2.1m people based abroad, 82.2 percent are male and 17.8 percent female.

The issue of voting rights of Nepali migrant workers has been a topic of discussions for quite some time. In 2018, the Supreme Court issued a directive ordering the government to draft a law enabling eligible Nepali nationals based abroad to vote. More than 100 countries, including 28 African countries, respect the voting rights of their migrant citizens.

The meeting also instructed the government to identify Nepali workers stranded abroad because of war and other reasons, and take immediate action for their rescue and repatriation.

Abdul Khan, the committee chair, informed that the meeting instructed the Minister for Labor to put an end to all kinds of fraud in foreign employment by regularly monitoring and inspecting manpower companies.

Furthermore, the committee directed the ministry to spend funds allocated to it more effectively, describing the utilization of the budget allocated for the current fiscal year as ‘disappointing’, even as Dol Prasad Acharya, Minister for Labor, Employment and Social Security, said the offices related to foreign employment were delivering services smoothly.

Those willing to go for foreign employment can get labor permits within an hour through the online system, he said.

Committee members also drew the ministry’s serious attention toward instances of manpower agencies cheating Nepali workers heading for foreign employment. They urged the government to focus on solving migrant workers’ problems.