"Controlling fraud in foreign employment is the main challenge"
KATHMANDU, Sep 9: The cases of fraud in foreign employment are increasing day by day. It has become the main challenge for the government to control and minimise fraud activities.
The Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, the Department of Foreign Employment and other concerned bodies have been working to find a solution. But it has been a challenge as the nature of fraud cases is changing.
The Department is working actively to keep the fraud cases in check. The Director General of the Department, Madan Dahal, has said that illegal activities will not be forgiven. Here is an edited excerpt of the conversation between a Ratopati journalist and Director General Dahal on these issues:
What are the biggest problems you've found since coming to the Department?
The biggest challenge in the Department, in the scope of foreign employment, is fraud. There are two types of fraud including personal and business fraud. The main factor in the increase of fraud is the lack of public awareness.
There are two types of workers who fall for fraud. Those who know nothing about foreign employment and those who know too much.
The one who knows nothing, how to go or where to go are cheated easily. Then there are those who have information, but they try to go to Europe, Canada and Australia and get cheated.
Another factor for the increasing fraud is us. There is a provision for reconciliation in the Foreign Employment Act. We also found that fraud cases are increasing due to this provision.
Shouldn't the fraud cases decrease due to the provision of reconciliation? How are they increasing?
Let's say someone committed a fraud and a complaint was filed. If they come to the Department for settlement, no action will be taken against them. There is also a provision for reconciliation, with the permission of the Attorney General, even if the case goes to the Foreign Employment Tribunal. There is a provision that frauds will be exempted if they reconcile by paying the claimed amount.
The trend of fraud has increased because of this. The most you need to do to get away is return the money equal to the amount you claimed. They won't be persecuted or imprisoned. And this opens up ways for fraud even more.
What are the obstacles that are causing business fraud?
We are also a reason for the business fraud. We've claimed "Free VISA Free Tricket", while businessmen are taking millions to send workers. We have fixed the service fee of 10,000.
If the service fee is fixed at 10,000 with a free visa and a free ticket, can you run the business? So the businessmen are forced to take hundreds of thousands of rupees.
Similarly, another factor of fraud is the agents. The law does not recognise agents. But when the businessmen can't reach the rural areas, they collect money through agents.
The biggest challenge for us is fraud control. But another challenge is to make the service fee transparent.
And then there is the loan shark problem. If we look at the reason behind the loan sharks, it is mostly due to foreign employment.
The concerned ministers and secretaries have all come together to solve this problem.
The law does not recognise agents. But how can the state take care of the problem if the frauds keep rising because of the agents?
For this, we have to adopt two methods. The job vacancies must be sent directly to the rural areas. We should connect the workers and the manpower directly. If we can do this, it will stop the agents in their tracks.
Another way is to manage the service charges. Send the service fees directly to the bank accounts of businessmen. If these two can be implemented, this will reduce the fraud to a great extent.
The businessmen are saying that the service fees should be raised to one month's salary. What are your thoughts on this?
I believe that the service fees should not be fixed to one month's salary. What are the expenses of a worker when he goes abroad for foreign employment? Let's account for it. Let's calculate all the expenses like manpower fees, interview fees, medical fees, etc. Then calculate the profit and the cost of the businessman. I believe that the fees should be fixed on that basis.
And the fees should be provided directly through the bank. We are even trying to make an arrangement with the banks to provide loans for the costs as well.
So the banks will provide loans for foreign employment?
The banks should pay all the expenses of the workers going abroad for foreign employment. And the banks should send that money directly to the bank accounts. If the cost of a worker to go abroad is 175 thousand, the bank will send the money equal to the cost to the businessman's account.
If this is implemented, the person won't have to take a loan at a high-interest rate. The frauds in the name of foreign employment will also be under control.
Banks have given a positive response to this. And if necessary, the government itself will take care of it. If not, insurance will be provided and the loans can be provided through the insurance if any problems arise in the future.
Workers who go abroad for foreign employment are facing many problems. Some are not getting paid, some are not getting the job they desire. Are the Nepalese Embassy in the respective countries ignoring this problem?
The embassy has its own problems. The employers are scattered in different places. In small countries, the employees themselves can monitor the problem. But this is not possible in the large countries. The embassy generally verifies the requests by monitoring it themselves. But this problem is not only caused by the embassy. It is also caused by the workers.
Many Nepalese suffered in Saudi Arabia. The major reason for this is the supply companies i.e. the manpower companies. When the supply companies take people from Nepal, their work is almost guaranteed, but they are not sure where to send the workers.
Because it's not fixed, they take the workers from here and keep them somewhere for 2-3 months. In this case, the contract also becomes illegal. As there is no confirmation about the job, does the contract have any meaning? We are trying to eliminate this problem.
The Department seemed aggressive towards the businessmen. Won't this create another problem in the future?
The Department is for the rights and welfare of both the workers and the businessmen. The Department is not in favour of doing justice to one side and injustice to another. The Department will proceed by following the law strictly. We are not sitting here thinking that the manpower businessmen will make a mistake and we will take action against them. We would rather want the businessmen to do their work honestly than take action against them.
If someone commits a mistake, they will face the law. We have clearly told the businessmen to work according to the law as the government is determined for the rights and welfare of the workers.