Despite concerns about job losses, there is little demand for foreign exchange to be sent to Nepali students abroadThe central bank has allowed banks to provide one time foreign exchange facility upto $500 per student.
There is no significant demand from parents for foreign exchange to help their children abroad amid job losses despite complaints by Nepalis studying in foreign universities of being unable to pay for their study and living costs, officials at the central banks and commercial banks have said.
On March 27, Nepal Rastra Bank first allowed parents of students in Cyprus to send up to 300 euros per student to meet their living costs without producing no objection certificates issued by the Ministry of Education.
On April 1, the central bank expanded the facility for Nepalis studying in all foreign countries, enabling them to get up to $500 once per person.
With the Covid-19 pandemic ravaging economies of many countries including the United States, Australia and those in Europe, many Nepali students are believed to have been rendered jobless while they get no support for study and living.
“After the parents of Nepali students complained of the difficulty facing their children in foreign land, we arranged for such a facility,” said Guru Prasad Poudel, director at the foreign exchange department of the central bank. “But banks have not reported a massive demand for foreign exchange to be sent abroad so far.”
He said that all the students studying abroad would not need support from home. “So there has not been a massive demand for foreign exchange to be sent to Nepali students,” Poudel said. Initially, parents of the students studying in Cyprus had sought permission to send dollars for their children. According to Poudel, an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 Nepalis are studying in Cyprus.
Commercial banks also reported little or no demand for the foreign exchange from the parents whose children are studying abroad.
Himalayan Bank Chief Executive Officer Ashok Rana said there is a very little demand for foreign exchange for the purpose.
Nabil Bank Chief Executive Officer Anil Shah said his bank has received no demand for foreign exchange so far to aid Nepali students abroad.
Sanima Bank also has not witnessed a high demand for foreign exchange. “From my banks, two or three parents are using this facility to send foreign exchange for their children in a day,” said the bank’s Chief Executive Officer Bhuvan Dahal.
Although rich parents have been sending money from Nepal to support their children, most students abroad fund their studies with their own incomes.
However, the bankers attribute the low demand for foreign exchange to the closure of most bank branches for a month during the lockdown. They said the demand could rise after banks opened most of the branches from Sunday when the government relaxed the restrictions for financial institutions.
As the crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic deepens across the world, Nepali students abroad are seeking their government’s help in deferring payment of tuition fees and rent and in raising the ceiling on the amount of money their parents can send them.
A large number of students, who have filled up the Emergency Relief Form, said they have lost their jobs and, therefore, the Nepal government should talk to the host governments to make provisions for interim relief.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of June 2, 2020
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease, is an illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How contagious is Covid-19?
Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, especially in enclosed spaces. The virus can travel through the air in respiratory droplets produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. As the virus can also survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, any contact with such surfaces can also spread the virus. Symptoms take between two to 14 days to appear, during which time the carrier is believed to be contagious.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is responsible for everything from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). After an initial outbreak in Wuhan that spread across Hubei province, eventually infecting over 80,000 and killing more than 3,000, new infection rates in mainland China have dropped. However, the disease has since spread across the world at an alarming rate.
What is the current status of Covid-19?
The World Health Organisation has called the ongoing outbreak a “pandemic” and urged countries across the world to take precautionary measures. Covid-19 had spread to 213 countries and infected more than 6,321,836 people with 375,657 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 198,140 with 5,608 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 72,460 confirmed cases with 1,543 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 1,811 cases with eight deaths.
How dangerous is the disease?
The mortality rate for Covid-19 is estimated to be 3.6 percent, but new studies have put the rate slightly higher at 5.7 percent. Although Covid-19 is not too dangerous to young healthy people, older individuals and those with immune-compromised systems are at greater risk of death. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, or those who’ve recently undergone serious medical procedures, are also at risk.
How do I keep myself safe?
The WHO advises that the most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like your computers and phones. Avoid large crowds of people. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for longer than a few days.
Is it time to panic?
No. The government has imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. There is no need to begin stockpiling food, cooking gas or hand sanitizers. However, it is always prudent to take sensible precautions like the ones identified above.