• 04 May 2016 | 20:44pm

KATHMANDU, May 5: A high-level government body has directed Ministry of Labor and Employment (MoLE) to prepare labor pool across the country to facilitate reconstruction activities. The meeting of National Development Action Committee (NDAC), led by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, on Wednesday held discussion on the availability of laborers for reconstruction works so that quake survivors do not feel shortage of trained hands to rebuild their house by using housing grant announced by the government. Tulasi Prasad Gautam, spokesperson of National Planning Commission (NPC), said that MoLE has been tasked with the responsibility of preparing labor pool and mobilize workers to villages in 14 most affected districts when needed. "The government is distributing around Rs 60 billion in quake-hit villages in the next five to six months. Demand for workers in these villages is bound to increase during the period," Gautam said, adding that the labor pool will be useful for matching need with demand.

Reconstruction of public infrastructure is also likely to create more labor demand in quake-affected districts. Although Nepal supplies laborers to Malaysia and different Gulf countries, shortage of laborers is likely to affect reconstruction works as youth prefer overseas jobs over working in Nepal. This is why experts say formation of labor pool along may not help facilitate reconstruction works. "Flying to Malaysia and Gulf countries ensures at least two-year job as well as social dignity. That is why youth do not choose domestic job market," Ganesh Gurung, labor expert, said. Daily-wage job is readily available in Nepal. It also fetches equal income compared to overseas job market. But youth choose overseas jobs because of several incentives and the opportunity to visit a foreign land. Regular payment, home leave after two years, and social prestige are some of the factors why youths choose foreign jobs, according to Gurung. As many as 500,000 houses are expected to be built by using the government housing grant. Experts say there will be severe shortage of workers when reconstruction starts in the coming months.

Labor crunch is also expected to hit other development projects. A report on development projects tabled in NDAC meeting on Wednesday states that Koshi Lokmarga and Karnali Lokmarga projects are seeing labor problems. Similarly, East West Railway Project and Pashupati Area Development Trust have faced crunch of technical hands, according to the report. Gautam, however, does not believe that there is serious problem. "The main problem is construction companies do not pay workers well. They lack corporate culture. This is the main reason why they are not finding workers," he added.