Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Guaranteed 100 days of employment in Nepal, and Nepal-India trade talks

From The Kathmandu Post: The government is rolling out a scheme that will guarantee minimum days of employment for citizens in a move that aims to deal with unemployment and discourage labour migration from the country. The country is battling a massive outflow of productive-age population, especially to the Gulf countries and Malaysia, as nearly 1,500 men and women fly abroad every day in search of jobs. According to a 2018 report of the World Bank, 32 percent of Nepal’s working-age population--people aged 15 to 64--was either unemployed or voluntarily inactive. The report said the country needed to create at least 286,900 jobs per year to keep this employment rate intact.

The Prime Minister Employment Programme, which is set to be unveiled this week, will ensure a minimum of 100 days of job opportunity for people from the working age at their own local level. The Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, which will implement the scheme, has identified 13 sectors, including national pride projects, where unemployed youths will be working as part of the scheme.

In order to secure minimum days of work, a candidate will have to first register at the Employment Service Centre (ESC), which will be established in all the 753 local units. The Employment Coordinators to be deployed at all the centres will keep records of the unemployed population at their units. Such records of unemployed population and available jobs at the local level will be maintained at the Employment Management Information System, said Dahal. The system will soon work as the database for providing real time information on the number of unemployed population. “Once the person is registered at the centre, s/he will be provided a minimum of 100 days of income opportunities in one fiscal year. They will be working at government projects at their local level,” Dahal added.

Under the programme, which aims to generate a minimum of 100,000 jobs in the country annually, will also provide sustenance allowance if it fails to provide minimum promised days of work to registered candidates, said officials. While more than one members of the working age from a family can sign up to the scheme, only one member of a family would be receiving sustenance allowance equivalent to 50 percent remuneration of 100 working days as per the basic wage.

Possible areas of employment 

  • Agriculture, cooperatives and animal husbandry
  • Energy, irrigation and river training
  • Drinking water and sanitation
  • Forest and environment
  • Tourism promotion
  • Road transport
  • Education, youth and sports
  • Reconstruction
  • Community infrastructure construction
  • Large and national pride projects
  • Information and communication technology
  • Industry
  • Health

India rejects request to remove import quotas

From The Kathmandu Post: India has turned down Nepal’s longstanding request to remove import quotas on four Nepali products which have been in place since 2002. The southern neighbour has been applying quantitative restrictions on acrylic yarn, copper utensils, vegetable ghee and zinc oxide. Nepali traders are allowed to export 5,000 tonnes each of copper utensils and zinc oxide to India annually. The yearly quota for vegetable ghee is 100,000 tonnes.

According to officials of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, India refused to end the quantitative restrictions during a review meeting of the Nepal-India Trade Treaty held in Pokhara from February 7-8. “Indian officials said that Nepal had not been able to export even the approved quantities of the products,” said a ministry source. India has been charging 4 percent additional customs duty on Nepali metallic items apart from imposing quotas on the four items. Due to countervailing duty, Nepali traders face barriers when exporting readymade garments, copper and brass utensils and catechu to India.

During the joint secretary-level review meeting, the Nepali side mainly asked their Indian counterparts to remove non-tariff barriers that India has been imposing time and again on a number of Nepali products. In addition, Nepal asked India to allow exports of domestic products on non-reciprocity basis. Nepal charges a 5 percent service fee on imports of agricultural products from India. “Based on this, India is reluctant to allow duty-free access for primary products such as farm items, flowers and fruits from Nepal,” the source said.

India has also turned down Nepal’s request to revise the rules of origin. Nepal has been pressing the southern neighbour to reduce the value addition ratio to 25 percent or less from the existing 30 percent. “India said it would simplify the procedure, but it seems to be unwilling to revise the rate,” the source said.