Recruiting agencies slapped with penalties for not submitting detailsThe government has penalised 30 recruiting agencies for failing to furnish details on migrant workers they have sent overseas under the ‘free-visa-free-ticket’ scheme.
The government has penalised 30 recruiting agencies for failing to furnish details on migrant workers they have sent overseas under the ‘free-visa-free-ticket’ scheme.
The move by the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) was aimed at assessing the implementation of the scheme launched in June 2015.
The DoFE has penalised 14 agencies for failing to submit such details on time, whereas 16 others were fined for not adhering to its notice to furnish clarification.
“For the first time, we had asked any such information from recruiting agencies, especially regarding the scheme since it came into force. It would help us in knowing the situation of its implementation,” said Mohan Adhikari, spokesperson for the DoFE.
The department had issued a notice in April, asking all the recruiting agencies to furnish details of how they had been implementing the scheme providing free visa and tickets to aspiring migrant workers. The first 15-day deadline was later extended by seven days.
According to Adhikari, the recruiting agencies that submitted details after the deadline were fined Rs50,000 and those ignoring the department’s notice were fined Rs100,000. Around 750 agencies have furnished details within the set deadline.
“The department had provided them with a format for submitting details. We are scrutinising the submitted details to ensure that the recruiting agencies follow the format and the free-visa-free-ticket policy while sending workers abroad,” said Adhikari. A recent study by the International Relations and Labour Committee of Parliament found the scheme a “complete failure”.
The report prepared by an eight-member sub-committee headed by then committee chair Prabhu Sah following extensive surveys in four Gulf countries–Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates in March—suggests most of the aspiring migrant workers are still being charged whopping amount by the recruiting agencies.
Coming under fire from all quarters for a lackadaisical execution of the scheme, the department has stepped up its monitoring process.
On Sunday, a DoFE monitoring team caught a staff of Siddha Global Services Pvt Ltd, a Tilganga-based recruiting agency, red-handed taking money from two migrant workers for a job in Malaysia.
“Those two migrant workers had already paid Rs40,000 to the recruiting agency,” said Adhikari. “We caught agency’s staffer Bhisma Adhikari today [Sunday] as he was collecting the remaining Rs160,000. Both were charged Rs 1,00,000 each.”
The recruiting agencies have, however, protested the government action.
The National Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (Nafea) has claimed that Sunday’s raids were conducted at the behest of some “biased” DoFE officials with an aim to terrorise the recruiting agencies.
“The government should first revise and implement the agreements reached with the recruiting agencies. Till then, the department should stop asking details and penalising the agencies,” said Gurung. “We are demanding service charge equivalent to worker’s one month salary in the work destination. After our demands are fulfilled, the government can demand any information and penalise us if we don’t abide by the provision.”