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Nepal – Government planning to resume issuing licences to recruitment agencies

10 September 2013

The Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) has referred a new draft of guidelines for recruitment agencies to the Nepalese Cabinet, according to the Kathmandu Post. The guidelines, which are expected to incorporate new rules and regulations for recruitment agencies, will potentially resume the issuance of agency licences. The government had stopped the issuance of licences to the recruitment agencies, citing several irregularities in the overall procedure.

Former labour minister, Kumar Belbase, was caught on camera asking for a bribe from prospective manpower companies to ensure the issuance of a licence. He was later sacked by the then prime minister Baburam Bhattarai. Several ministers and government officials were allegedly involved in the corrupt actions, however, no one was actually punished.

The guidelines in question will be applied to both existing and new manpower companies. Government officials refused to divulge any details, but said they had incorporated new rules, regulations, and a code of conduct for the functioning of the overseas agencies into the draft guidelines.

Labour ministry officials said the prime objective of the new guidelines was to replace the outdated provisions with an updated version. They said the existing regulations and provisions had failed to cover new challenges faced by the foreign employment sector.

Buddhi Bahadur Khadka, spokesperson of the labour ministry, commented: "We expect to resolve all the existing anomalies surrounding the foreign employment sectors with the new guidelines. It can be done only by reining in the manpower agencies where the root of all the problems lies. The new guideline is expected to be endorsed by the Cabinet within the next few weeks."

Khadka, who also heads the foreign employment division in the ministry, said there would be a change in the provisions of the guaranteed amount for recruiting agencies and agents, educational criteria and building criteria for the agents.

Khadka said that the ministry did not have any immediate plans to resume issuing licences.

However, officials at the Department of Foreign Employment said the ministry was preparing to begin the licence issuance procedure. They said that they were devising proper measures to keep the overall process transparent and free of controversy.

Divash Acharya, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Employment, commented: "The ministry is reportedly planning to resume the stalled process as it's not good for a competitive market to suspend the licence distribution for too long. But there has not been any official information."

Representatives of the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) said a few provisions included in the draft including the educational criteria for operators and manpower agents should be scrapped.

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