National rights watchdog tells government to prioritise people’s right to health and employment in the upcoming budgetThe constitutional body calls for a dedicated income-generation programme for the Nepali migrant workers who are predicted to return home.
The National Human Rights Commission has urged the Nepal government to address people’s right to health and employment while also allocating adequate funds for agriculture and reliable disaster management in the upcoming budget for the fiscal year 2020/21.
Issuing a statement on Thursday the constitutional watchdog said the budget should ensure availability of the needed fertilizer, seeds, agricultural equipment and warehouse, along with the assurance of the market for the production.
The commission has also called on the government to come up with a dedicated income generation programme for the Nepali migrant workers. With the global economy is in the throes of a recession due to the Covid-19 pandemic, hundreds of thousands of Nepalis abroad are likely to lose their jobs and return home.
The government does not have exact data of how many Nepalis are currently employed abroad, but estimates suggest the number could be in millions. According to the Migration in Nepal report, there are over 1.5 million Nepali youths in Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait alone. Similarly, an estimated 3 to 4 million people are employed in India. The economic slowdown in these countries has already hit the job market hard. For instance, around 3,500 Nepali workers have registered to return home from Kuwait alone.
Addressing the pre-budget discussion in the federal parliament this week, cross-party lawmakers too had given similar suggestions to the government.
They had demanded that the government prioritise four sectors—employment generation, agriculture, health and education—in the national budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
The government will present the budget for fiscal year 2020-21 on May 28.
The commission said improving health facilities across the country should also be the major focus of the government.
“It is necessary that each province has one 1,000-bed well-equipped hospital and each local level has one 100-bed well-equipped health facility, along with adequate health workers,” read the statement. “The health facilities should be developed in close coordination between the three tiers of the government.”
The Covid—19 has exposed the health service of the country as some of the provinces hardly have less than a dozen ICUs and ventilators.
Given the rising number of Covid-19 cases, experts have already warned that the current rate, the country’s health infrastructure could be easily overwhelmed very soon.
As of Thursday, Nepal has reported 246 Covid-19 cases from 22 districts. No deaths have been reported so far due to the virus. The country has been on lockdown since March 24 to contain the spread of the virus. While the current nationwide lockdown extension is applicable until May 18, the government has suspended all international flights to and from Nepal until May-end. Domestic flights too continue to remain suspended.