Tuesday Jun 28, 2022
Tuesday Jun 28, 2022

Foreign employment uncertain amid COVID surge

2022 Jan 12, 17:28, Kathmandu
This image shows the building of Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu in September 2020. Photo courtesy: Novaturient

With the onset of the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Nepal, the resurgence of foreign employment after one and a half years has become panicked again. Not only the manpower businessmen but also the workers in the process of going abroad are scared by the high rate of infection in Nepal.

Sujit Kumar Shrestha, general secretary of the Foreign Employment Businessmen's Association, says that as the infection rate in Nepal increases, the labor destination countries keep making strict policies towards Nepal.

"If we can prevent and control the epidemic, the pace at which employment is growing can be maintained," he said, "If there is too much risk, the destination country may close its doors."

At present, countries other than Malaysia are taking workers. South Korea has also started receiving workers regularly. At present, the number of Nepali youths going for foreign employment due to the Corona epidemic has increased. There is a demand from entrepreneurs to make the pandemic control effective as the labor destination country may be shaken by the increase of corona infection here.

"The protocols that have been put in place should be adhered to," says Shrestha.

According to Shrestha, workers going abroad should be ensured to get a single dose prescription of the 'Johnson & Johnson' vaccine. He said that the government has been requested to make necessary arrangements for that. The union has said that even in the midst of the epidemic, it should decide how to provide services including demand letter certification, labor approval, medical certificate, and visa stamping. There is a demand from the businessmen that demand letter certification, labor approval, and international flights should not be stopped.

At present, about 2,500 Nepalis are traveling abroad for employment every day. Last November/December alone, 74,354 Nepali workers went abroad for foreign employment. This number was about 19,000 more than in October.

According to the Department of Foreign Employment, the number of Nepalis going abroad seems to be increasing as the crisis in foreign employment due to the Corona epidemic has been receding for the past two years.

The number of Nepalis going for foreign employment has been steadily rising since last May. The number of Nepalis going to the Gulf countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE is very high. Nepalis are also going to Kuwait, Oman, and other countries. 

However, the number of Nepalis going abroad had come down to 4,086 in May. In May, only 787 had obtained new labor permits. On July, 20,658 Nepalis got permission to go abroad. Among them were 10,700 newcomers and others who had gone abroad before.

From last July to December, 230,000 Nepalis have gone legally for foreign employment. From July to December, the number of Nepalis seeking new labor permit for foreign employment has reached 130,411. The number of re-employed workers has reached 99,580.

According to the department, 25,428 Nepalis had gone abroad for work in July. Among them, the number of new visa applicants from manpower companies and individuals was 13,800. According to the statistics of the department, 24,692 people got new labor permits in August while 36,040 people went abroad for work including renewal of labor permits. While 39,671 Nepalis flew abroad in September, 27,824 were new workers.

It is unclear what kind of situation the pandemic will create. As the opportunities for foreign workers increase, signs of a new wave of COVID-19 are looming again.

Officials of the Department of Foreign Employment are of the opinion that as the industries, factories, and projects which were closed due to the pandemic in the labor destination countries have resumed operations, an environment should be created for Nepali workers to go continuously by fulfilling the health standards as per the rules of the labor destination country.

The number of workers going to the manpower companies in Kathmandu to go abroad for employment has increased even though the situation is not as comfortable as in the past as the prescribed PCR testing, vaccination, and quarantine have to be followed. But now there is a fear that foreign employment will bring another hurdle.


PCR testing vaccination Foreign Employment manpower travel Employment labor permits South Korea Malaysia coronavirus pandemic
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