Despite Nepal’s potential at generating employment opportunities by exploiting its abundant national resources, a large numbers of young and energetic Nepalis are migrating to other countries for better employment opportunities and lucrative earning. The dire state of employment opportunities in the country has compelled them to leave. Every year, more than 400,000 workers enter Nepal’s labor market; over 1,000 Nepali workers leave the country each day.
The abundant water resources, agriculture, tourism, minerals, bio-diversity, infrastructure development and service sectors are lucrative investment areas which can contribute significantly towards employment generation, poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth. However, looming political uncertainty, unstable government, policy inconsistency and poor law and order situation have made potential national and foreign investors reluctant to invest their capital, technology and management skills in Nepal.
Emerging political developments in the country have spawned an adverse investment environment. The situation has also made it difficult for the government to present a full annual national budget—the engine of economic growth and socio-economic transformation. In the context of the existing unemployment situation in the country, foreign employment has become a viable option to absorb Nepal’s growing workforce. But in order to capitalize on this option the government has to make sincere effort to explore new attractive labor destinations through effective mobilization of its diplomatic missions abroad. It should also take necessary measures to address the problems faced by Nepali migrant workers both at home and abroad.
The government’s rules and regulations concerning foreign employment must be enforced effectively and the activities of mushrooming manpower companies in the country monitored so as to facilitate aspirant Nepali migrant workers select right labor destinations and protect them from maltreatment. There is a further need to protect and promote the rights and welfare of Nepali migrant workers abroad, given the incidents of physical, mental and sexual harassment, unhealthy working environments and low salaries reported on a regular basis.
Although there are 108 countries where Nepali migrant workers can go to work, the Gulf region has become the most attractive labor destination for a big chunk of unskilled Nepalis. The low cost of working visas, easy access to information and spreading manpower companies across the country have added to the charm of Gulf countries as employment destinations for scores of Nepali workers who go there and work as carpenters, watchmen, domestic helps, gardeners, salesmen, construction workers and electricians, among others. Currently, South Korea has become the most lucrative labor destination for aspiring Nepali youths under the Employment Permit System (EPS).
Stagnant development process, contracting economic activities and slow rate of industrial development are certainly not conducive for generating employment opportunities to address the burgeoning unemployment situation in the country, which will only lead to more problems like social unrest, ethnic conflict, class struggle and trafficking. In such a backdrop, it will be difficult to maintain sustainable peace and stability and achieve equitable and inclusive economic growth.
In the context of existing unemployment situation, foreign employment has become viable option to absorb Nepal’s workforce.
In this context, foreign employment can be a good alternative to absorb Nepal’s growing workforce in the short run; remittances, let us not forget, have also played a major role in sustaining the national economy by helping reduce poverty, maintain healthy balance of payments, increase foreign currency reserve, stabilize foreign currency exchange rate and national capital formation. Given its impact on the economy, it isn’t surprising that remittances account for around 21 percent of national GDP.
For the start, the three-man Nepali missions in labor-hosting countries must be enlarged with additional manpower to tackle problems faced by Nepali migrant workers. The government should take further initiative to extend its diplomatic wings by assessing the present global scenario as well as political, economic and labor relations with other friendly countries.
Finally, the looming turmoil and unstable political situation has to be dealt with soon so as to achieve sustainable, equitable and inclusive economic growth by accelerating the socio-economic development process and creating an investment-friendly environment to attract huge internal and external investment, which will ultimately generate sustained employment opportunities for the young and energetic youth in the country.
The author is a graduate in MPP from KDI School of Public Policy and Management, South Korea