Youth Outflow And Remittance
Lal Deosa Rai
It is sickening to get to know from the news media that young Nepalis work hard in foreign land while the remittances they send home do not match their labour account. This certainly is not a healthy sign for the national economy. The National coffers tinkle low while Nepali labour abroad buzz.
However, the Fourteenth Plan (2016-2 018) which is coming to terminate this year has expected that a law will have been formulated to guarantee compulsory employment to all members of below poverty level families in specified districts. The priority given to the problem of employment in the national budget proposal for 2018/19 is indicative of the seriousness of the issue of the lack of employment opportunities in the country. The government is proposing to put up a bill to guarantee creation in public sector of minimum employment opportunities, the budget states.
More importantly, the budget proposes to set up the province employment information centre, and the foreign employment companies will also be involved in domestic employment management, and free short-term training will be organised to supply skilled manpower on demand of the employment market. Whether the budget provision of Rs. 3 billion is adequate enough or not is a question not much of concern for this article.
The focus is on the effectiveness of the media in the country to deliver the message of the value of foreign employment at the cost of national effort for upgrading Nepal to developing country from the status of least developed country to that of the middle level income groups of countries by 2030. The crux of the development problem in Nepal is lacking of understanding that communication is more than just infrastructure or a precondition of nation building activities. This classical or neo-classical economic approach to communication strategy will hardly help address the economic ills of the country. Moreover, to make efforts to address non-economic issues by economic means is all the more fatal.
The planned approach to communication role in the process of development should be revisited, revised and renewed with vigour to treat communication as critical though not always a decisive factor in the process of social change. Mere planning for communication infrastructures in the form of mass or tele-communications producing data of geographical coverage and frequency power will not make for effectiveness of communication for social change. Communication is more than infrastructure. It is an integral process of development.
To communicate development messages effectively not in abstract or propagandist and centralised fashion but by human and localised approach is what is necessary to address the needs and psychological dispositions of the target groups so that the groups may be receptive to the positive development message, for instance the group which is seeking foreign employment. The positive message may tell the foreign employment seekers why they should stay home and work for Nepal. The model of development supportive communication may be fruitfully used in this case.
In this process not only mass media links, but also interpersonal links will work to bring individual and social change. However, the channels of communication should not only be accessible but should also be credible. Moreover, the communication of development does not mean only supplying information and educational ideas by the communicator; it also means the audience demands for development and resolution of development problems. It should be a two-way process. In our case of foreign employment and remittances account, all the concerned stakeholders should get messages effectively why they should stay home and work for Nepal and here small media like FM may work more effectively.
The stakeholders must get the message from the media where the real need and problems exist, and they must perceive their real needs and identify their real problems. Discontents, dissatisfaction and disappointments should not force the young Nepalis to leave the country for good. They should be empowered to participate meaningfully and equally at their levels of concerns, and they should be given equal opportunities for lasting employment in a planned way. Their negative psychological dispositions to foreign employment should be changed in favour of development efforts at home. To achieve this goal, however, communication should be approached from non-economic angle.
According to the National Planning Commission, about 30 per cent of Nepal’s total population is semi-unemployed and 2.3 per cent is fully unemployed .Of the total population, 57 per cent is economically active. The government has brought about the National Employment Policy 2071, and the Directive 2072 to address the issues of employing domestic workers in foreign countries. The government has also planned to undertake timely modification of the Foreign Employment Act 2064 and Foreign Employment Regulation 2064.
By the end of the Fourteenth Plan (2016 -2018), the government expects creation of 400 thousand jobs annually and supply of skilled and competitive manpower to meet the demands of labour market. More importantly the rates of unemployment and semi –unemployment will be reduced according to the Plan. Just the other day,the Artha Bazar page of the Gorkhapatra ( Asar 7/June 21 ) reported that the government has revoked the licenses of 197 foreign employment companies which are found to conduct irregular businesses, or to cheat the clients, or violate the law .The government have found most of these companies committing serious crimes. Moreover, the government has also blacklisted 64 such companies of several countries including Malaysia, Saudi Arab, Qatar and UAE. Ironically, it is these Gulf countries among the current 36 countries employing Nepali foreigners, which share the largest proportion of remittances received in Nepal.
The government’s latest directive to all concerned that only the Nepali embassy or consular office are authorised to issue certification of the demand requests and contract documents of the labourers aspiring for foreign employments, may to some extent control the outflows of promising young Nepalis. However, the directive must operate to convey the intended message of the government, otherwise , it may be counter- productive as the possibility of the illegal sources of employment agencies may come into play and the hundi or money laundering channels may increasingly be used to drain semi-skilled Nepali manpower thereby creating a distorted picture of the balance in outflow of manpower vs. the inflow of remittances into the country.