By Our Reporter
Four thousand workers have been stalled even after receiving working visa for Malaysia. Minister Gokarna Bista, on the charge of taking money illegally for medical report, fingerprint, etc. from the workers, has stopped sending workers to Malaysia.
The Labour Ministry has taken stance that if Malaysia will not scrap this decision, Nepal will not send workers there and it has stopped workers flying for Malaysia.
Until four years ago, each worker had to pay two thousand six hundred rupees for medical checkup, seven hundred rupees for visa fee prior to their departure to Malaysia. However, four years ago, the then state minister Tek Bahadur Gurung in the government led by late Sushil Koirala, introduced the policy of compulsory VLN, Biometric, GSG, Megrims like procedures for the workers compelling them to pay additional 18400 rupees each. Those workers paying 3600 rupees were asked to pay 18400 rupees. Again, after Minister Bista assumed office, he has asked the manpower companies to scrap fees on Biometric and VLN and started to arrest those owners of the manpower companies taking such fees. Since then, the manpower companies have stopped sending workers to Malaysia. Since 20 May, workers have not flown to Malaysia.
Minister Bista is now saying that Nepali workers will go to Malaysia only after inking labour agreement between Nepal and Malaysia, the process of sending workers will resume.
On the charge of taking money in the name of VLN, Ram Shrestha was arrested with the claim of collecting 3 billion rupees illegally. Dewan Rai of the Medical Health Care was arrested for collecting 21 million 239 thousand rupees illegally from the workers. Rai was released on bail paying 50 thousand rupees by the court, whereas, Shrestha was released on bail paying one million rupees from the Kathmandu District Court. Again Shrestha was arrested by the Police and later, the Lalitpur District Court had released him on bail worth 1.2 million rupees. On the other hand, Gopal Thapaliya, operating GSG, was released within one hour of his arrest under the pressure of a CPN leader. However, VLN operator Ram Shrestha had to spend 25 days under the police custody and the government had claimed nearly 3 billion rupees as bail. Shrestha is claiming that it was sole partiality against him. Out of 39 Biometric health checkup clinics, operators of above 19 such clinics were arrested and released on bail. Chairman Kailash Khadka and former chairman Prabinbabu Tiwari of the Federation of Biometric clinic operators are still disappeared.
VLN operator Shrestha’s job is just to collect passports of the workers and putting visa on them from the Malaysian embassy by taking 6700 rupees. This amount is also fixed by the Malaysian government. This process has been introduced in 57 nations by the Malaysian government. Shrestha is running this business by registering his company at the Company Registrar’s Office and he is paying vat on his business as well.
Four years ago, a case was filed at the Foreign Employment Department on the allegation of collecting money illegally in the name of VLN. On that case, the Department had given the verdict that VLN charge was not illegal.
In another case filed at the Lalitpur District Administration Office four years ago against VLN, the VLN operators had got clean chit.
Again, CIAA had sent a special team to Malaysia to investigate on whether VLN process was illegal or not. The CIAA team had also confirmed that VLN operators were running business after receiving permission from the Malaysian government. Bhawani Subedi was assigned as the investigation officer on VLN investigation.
According to Shrestha, until today, VLN has done business worth 3 billion rupees and is has paid 600 million rupees as VAT to the government. It is surprising that even after receiving VAT amount from the business, the very government is claiming VLN as illegal, according to VLN operator. Not only on workers’ visa, on tourist visa also, Malaysian Embassy is doing outsourcing works through VLN, it is learnt.