Plan to collect Rs 1. 20 billion from Nepali workers going to Malaysia creates stir

KATHMANDU: A controversial agreement signed by a group including Labour and Employment Minister Sharad Singh Bhandari with a private company of Malaysia with an aim to collect Rs 1.20 billion at one go has created quite a stir in the employment sector.

A question of authenticity has been raised over the agreement signed by Foreign Employment Board Executive Director Dwarika Upreti and an official of the Foreign Workers Welfare Management Centre of Malaysia.

Foreign Affairs Minister NP Saud said that there is no involvement of Foreign Ministry in this issue.

The agreement which includes all the work from the collection of the personal details of the workers under the guise of doing welfare work will come into implementation from January 1.

The Nepali workers have to face the financial burden of Rs 6, 000 (USD 45) if they go under this agreement.

Though the agreement states that the amount will be bore by the employer, it is certain that the employees have to pay the amount.

This agreement will put Nepal’s foreign employment business at risk and the situation may also come where the employers of Malaysia, the top labour destination of the Nepali workers, have to search for an alternative.

Nepali Ambassador to Malaysia Dilliram Paudel said that the recent agreement was made with the planning of the Labour Ministry, Malaysia-based Nepali Embassy and some middlemen at a time when attempts were being made to impose syndicate in the labour permits.

Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies President Rajendra Bhandari said that the so-called agreement would not be acceptable under any circumstances.

He said they would come up with stern protest programmes if the agreement is not scrapped at the earliest.

“The top globe of Malaysia hires 1, 000 workers at one time. If the company is told to pay USD 45 per person for that, it will not hire the Nepali workers by paying additional Rs 6 million. The company will hire workers from other countries,” he said.

According to last year’s data, 200, 000 workers had left Nepal for Malaysia. This is 43 percent of the total foreign employment.

This is nothing but a grand design to cough up Rs 1. 20 billion from the 200, 000 workers and to distribute among the minister, Malaysian company and middlemen.

It has been learnt that the Malaysian company was established by Binay Manandhar of Nepal among others.

A company named Nepalis Workers Project Centre was also found to have been registered with an aim to collect money from the Nepali workers. Manandhar has stood as a witness.

Minister Bhandari has used possibly his last chance of life as an opportunity to bag money.

Board’s Executive Director Uprety has been used in this conspiracy. He has got into a problem due to this agreement.

It has also been said that the money collected by the middlemen has even been distributed among the high-ranking officials.

Manandhar has also written to Board’s Executive Director Uprety to cooperate as per the agreement.

Saying that a question has arisen over the legitimacy of the agreement signed by Foreign Employment Board with the private company abroad, Bhandari said that while signing any agreement with any country, it should go through the Foreign Ministry.

The letter has been sent to the Ministry only after signing the agreement.

An official at the Labour Ministry has raised a question over the so-called welfare agreement while renewing the agreement and Bhola Guragain, an official at the Malaysian Embassy, said that they have no knowledge about the agreement.

Executive Director Uprety had also gone to Malaysia to inaugurate the Centre’s ffice established close to the Kuala Lumpur-based Nepali Embassy after the agreement.

The board has written to the Labour, Employment and Social Security Ministry and Foreign Ministry to implement the agreement.

But Foreign Minister Saud has expressed his concern over the issue. A high-ranking official at the Ministry said that the issue is being studied and a question has been raised over the intention of the ambassador and the Labour Ministry.

The Kathmandu-based Malaysian Embassy also said that Malaysia will not accept any agreement apart from the labour agreement.

If the agreement is implemented, the Malaysian employer has to pay USD 45 per person to certify the demand paper.

The Embassy will authenticate the paper only after submitting the receipt of payment of USD 45 i. e 200 Ringit.

This is the extra fee the employer company has to pay to the Government of Nepal except the revenue.

There is a slim chance that the employer company will agree to this agreement.

As per the agreement signed between the Board and centre, the employer company has to pay the amount several times more than the Government of Nepal.

For instance, the employer company has to pay Ringit 1, 400 to the Nepali Embassy to hire 200 workers. Now, the employer company has to pay 40, 000 Ringit at the rate of 200 Ringit per worker in the name of the centre.

This amount will go to the private company’s account in Malaysia instead of the revenue account of Nepal.

It has been mentioned in the agreement that a company will be established in Nepal to facilitate that company. That company has been established in the name of Nepalis Workers Protection Centre.

The centre in Malaysia had signed an agreement with the Nepalis Workers Protection Centre to connect the workers in Nepal to its system and to carry out the works as per the agreement.

It has been mentioned that the Malaysian company will take 60 percent of the total collected money and the Nepal company will take the 40 percent.

Those who signed the agreement in Nepal including the minister will get Rs 500 million annually and this will continue for five years.

This racket had tried to sign this agreement for the past two years.

In spite of trying to sign this agreement during the tenure of former Labour Minister Kishan Shrestha and Sher Bahadur Kunwar, the gang became successful to sign the agreement during the term of Sharad Singh Bhandari.

 

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