KATHMANDU, Feb 4: After more than a year of slack, Malaysia has placed a record high demand for 100,000 Nepalis for blue collar jobs within the next six months.
This has come as welcome news for unemployed Nepali youths as well as for the government that has been reeling under a high balance of payments (BoP) deficit amid sharp drop in the remittance growth rate.
If the manpower agencies manage to meet the fresh demand for workers, that will instantly push monthly remittance receipts by an average of US$ 15 million, said experts.
Even more good news for overseas job aspirants is that to fulfill the demand on time manpower agencies have lowered the expenses the job seekers were otherwise required to bear before leaving for Malaysia.
“We are sending workers without levying broker´s commission,” said Kumud Khanal, co-coordinator of manpower agencies sending workers to Malaysia. This has directly halved the prior-departure cost for workers to around Rs 40,000 from Rs 80,000 in the past.
Orders mainly started to flood in about two weeks ago, a highly elated Khanal told Republica.
Manpower agencies said that the Malaysian government has already approved around 100,000 visas for Nepali workers for the six months. This is far more than the roughly 25,000 visas that Nepal used to get in the past.
“The demand is so huge we are now facing a tough time arranging workers and managing the sending process,” Khanal stated.
Malaysia - the Asian hob for multinational companies and second largest destination for Nepali migrant workers - was hard hit by the global economic downturn.
It had even laid off a significant number of foreign workers and announced it would not receive migrant workers in the manufacturing and service sectors, to deal with rising domestic unemployment.
It had also announced it would not receive new Nepali workers as security guards - a sector where Nepali workers were enjoying exclusive opportunities.
However, Khanal said his own agency - Fusion International - has already received demands for over 1,000 workers, including an order of 200 workers from a single company. There are some five dozen manpower agencies involved in sending workers to Malaysia, where around 400,000 Nepalis are estimated to be working.
Agents concerned attributed the sudden rise in demand to the restriction that Malaysia imposed on Bangladeshi workers, who are the main competitors for Nepali workers.
Improvement in the overseas business of multinational companies - the major employers - and gradual end of the adverse impact of the global financial crisis also contributed to the spurt in demand for workers.
“Demands have mainly come from the manufacturing sector. Offers from other sectors like agriculture and services are going up also,” said Khanal.
With the improvement in the economic situation, workers are also being offered a higher salary than in the past. Although the government-fixed minimum wage for Nepali workers is around Rs 11,000 (546 Ringgit), employers are presently paying them as much as Rs 17,000 per month.
According to a rough estimate, every Nepali sends home an average of US$ 150 per month from Malaysia, making for a substantial contribution to remittances.