Demands for thousands of Nepali workers start pouring in from Saudi ArabiaRecruiting agencies fear the sluggish process of demand attestation and other obstacles might lead to job losses for potential Nepali migrant workers.
With the resumption of demand document verification from the Nepali embassy in Saudi Arabia, employers in the Gulf state are seeking to hire Nepalis after a slump in departures due to the pandemic.
After a ten-month-long suspension of workers’ demand attestation process, the Nepali mission in Riyadh had started verifying the demand documents submitted by Saudi employers.
According to Sujeet Kumar Shrestha, general secretary of the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA), a grouping of recruiting agencies hiring and supplying Nepali workers to foreign employers, nearly 2,300 demand letters have been submitted by local employers for hiring Nepalis.
“These applications consist of the demand for Nepali workers for various job sectors in Saudi Arabia,” said Shrestha. “Such a large number of demand letters means there is a demand for at least 30,000 to 40,000 Nepali workers in the country.”
For hiring Nepali migrant workers, foreign employers have to approach the Nepali missions in the respective countries. Only after the Nepali mission verifies the documents, assessing facilities and perks for Nepali workers, does the remaining process of hiring workers from Nepal begin.
According to Shrestha, nearly 300 demand letters had been attested until a week ago.
Recruiting agencies estimate that there could be demand for hiring nearly 70,000 workers from Nepal within a month. However, for that to happen, the Nepali mission in Saudi should do its job properly, according to Shrestha.
If the Nepali embassy can efficiently facilitate the verification process, demand may be received for 70,000 workers, said Shrestha.
The government had suspended the labour migration of Nepalis as Covid-19 cases were reported in destination countries. Following the decision, Nepali missions abroad had stopped attesting labour demand letters. The embassy in Riyadh stopped issuing demand attestation letters on March 13.
The embassy in Saudi Arabia was among the last ones in the region to resume demand verification services. Having resumed the services on January 24, the embassy in Riyadh has said attestation of demand letters will be carried out online only. The embassy also developed a separate portal for prospective employers to submit their demand letters.
Since then, recruiting agencies have been complaining that the online system creates more hassles for employers who are interested in hiring Nepalis.
The embassy in Riyadh then once again stopped the demand verification process until March 10.
“Demand attestation from the Nepal embassy in Saudi Arabia has been going on. The process has been put on hold until March 10,” said Kumar Prasad Dahal, director general of the Department of Foreign Employment.
“The embassy is not accepting any new demands for a few days as there had been pending demands that needed to be cleared first. Once these are done, verification will resume as usual.”
According to Shrestha, the online system crashed after a large number of Saudi employers started submitting demand documents for verification.
“Saudi employers are still interested in hiring Nepalis, which is a good sign. However, our agencies should facilitate them by easing the process,” said Shrestha.
“For example, the ceiling of a maximum 50 workers, not allowing mega recruiting companies to hire workers on behalf of employers and sluggish online attestation system are some of the obstacles making employers reluctant. If such issues are not addressed, we may lose worker demands.”