As Nepal is poised to sign a deal with Malaysia to ensure cost-free recruitment of workers, Qatar has expressed its interest in hiring Nepalis without charging them any money in the process.

Qatar, which hosts hundreds of thousand Nepalis, has proposed a ‘zero cost’ modality for employing migrant workers in the country. The developments come as another relief for Nepali workers who face a number of hassles before departing for the job destination and while working in a foreign country.

Malaysia is due to sign a labour agreement with Nepal this week, sparing workers the huge expenses that they are currently charged in various phases of recruitment.According to Mahesh Prasad Dahal, secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, the Qatari proposal is a welcome step as it would benefit both the governments and thousands of migrant Nepalis who are compelled to go abroad for work in the absence of employment opportunities at home.

For following up on the proposal and designing necessary mechanisms, high-level Qatari officials will be visiting Nepal on November 6 and 7. A technical working group of the Nepal government will also be visiting Qatar in the second week of December.

Both the countries are working to review their labour pact for making it migrant worker- friendly by protecting their rights and ensuring their safety, according to Dahal. Nepal signed a labour agreement with Qatar in 2005.Qatar has decided to open its labour office, called the service centre for Qatar-bound Nepalis, to facilitate the hiring process. It

would provide pre-departure services like attestation of documents, visa processing, signing of labour contracts and issuing worker identity cards before departure.

In November last year, Qatar decided to set up such service centres, similar to one-stop solution for migrant workers, in countries that contribute large numbers of workers. The Interior Ministry of Qatar signed an agreement with a Singapore based firm—Biomet—to simplify the visa process for workers applying for jobs in gas-rich Qatar.

Migrant workers will not be put through the pre-departure formalities in the host country again as their details will be electronically linked.In the first phase, service centres are said to be established in eight countries—India, Nepal,

Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines and Tunisia—which supply 80 percent of the Qatari foreign labour force.