Labour Ministry proposes to hike employment agency fee to Rs 60mNew companies planning foreign employment agency business will have to pay 20 times more license fees, if the Labour Ministry’s proposal to increase it from the current Rs 3 million is approved.
New companies planning foreign employment agency business will have to pay 20 times more license fees, if the Labour Ministry’s proposal to increase it from the current Rs 3 million is approved.
The Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security has proposed to raise the license fees for new agencies in the foreign employment business to Rs 60 million.
The proposal of steep increase in licence fee is to deter new entrants, minimising the number of agencies and seek greater accountability. Earlier, recruiting agencies, seeking new licence for entering foreign employment business, paid Rs 3 million—Rs 700,000 in cash deposit and Rs 2.3 million in bank guarantee as deposit.
Labour Ministry Spokesperson Prakash Dahal said the proposed hike aims to limit the number of recruiting agencies because many have cheated migrant workers in the recent past. “Besides restricting the number of recruiting agencies, we aim to eliminate fraud and cheating in foreign employment sector,” said Dahal.
The Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) has 1,415 recruiting agencies on its register at present. A large number of agencies are either defunct or sending a small number of workers abroad.
In the last Fiscal Year 2017-18, 15 agencies supplied over 2,000 migrant workers to foreign countries whereas 67 agencies sent less than 10 workers each in one year. Eight agencies sent only one worker each, the DoFE said.
One of the objectives of raising the license fee is the voluntary merger of agencies, the government hopes.
“The proposal gives agencies an opportunity for mergers. Most of them are not even operating. Once they come together, it would be easier for the government to monitor their work,” said Dahal.
The government defends its whopping 20 times increase in fee. It says the new fee proposal considers the current foreign employment situation, high documentation expenses of migrant workers, the problems they face while dealing with unscrupulous agencies and crisis management when migrant workers have to be rescued from foreign countries where they are based.
The government plan to hike fees has miffed recruiting agencies. Some threatened to surrender their licenses to the government.
The forum of recruiting agencies - the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) - on Wednesday held an emergency meeting.
NAFEA President Rohan Gurung said owners of many agencies plan to return their licenses to the government.
Gurung blames the government for keeping honest and professional operators away by imposing massive license fee in order to limit number of agencies.
“Government had said that license fees were increased to control the number of recruiting agencies. This would also bar entry of those entrepreneurs, who want to conduct the business with full integrity, and allow only rich businessmen to enter the sector,” said Gurung.
He suggested the government to stop issuing licenses to new operators if the government was keen to limit the number of agencies because of difficulties in monitoring them.
“There is an instance of one individual having 15 agency licenses issued in one name. No one should have more than one license. Some agencies do not send even 100 workers in a year. Closing down such agencies will automatically bring down the number,” said Gurung.