It is my great pleasure to give a short speech in this workshop for examining how private sector plays important roles in economic development as well as for supporting the success of Nepali returnees. I think this is a relevant topic not just for Korean returnees but for all Nepalese who return to Nepal. From recent data, it shows that about 4.3 million Nepalese have gone abroad for employment as of last fiscal year. This number does not include Nepalese who go to India for work. If Nepalese working in India are included, the number could be even greater. Under EPS Program, about 35,000 Nepalese is working now in Korea and more than 20,000 Nepalese workers already returned back to Nepal. We all know the immense contribution that migrant workers, including from Korea, have made to the Nepali economic development. Nepal’s foreign exchange reserve ($10.6 billion) is healthy because of remittance. Migrant workers sent remittance of $7.26 billion to Nepal last fiscal year. That is about 25.1% of the nation’s GDP. The healthy foreign exchange reserves obtained from remittance allows Nepali people to buy foreign goods and services.
Even in Korean history, there are several cases of migrant workers making an immense contribution to Korean economic development. From 1966 through1979, about 20,000 Korean nurses and miners went to Germany and worked very hard. They came back to Korea with savings and knowledge. Their savings was used for investment, particularly in their children’s education, which became as a source of more productive and prosperous lives in the future.In today’s morning session, Dr. Yoo Chung-sik mentioned the importance of productive human resources in Korea’s development. He emphasized that education in Korea played a key role in developing efficient productive human resources. Korean workers also went to Middle East to work in the oil fields from middle 1970s to middle 1980s. The Korean companies gained knowledge about oil exploration and construction technology, while at the same time workers earned money which they used for future investment.
The Nepali economy is called as remittance-dependent and import-based one. In Nepal, migrants’ money is mostly being spent on consumption which is the main reason for huge trade deficit. Nepali Government data shows that saving is only 15% of the country’s total earnings, while 85% is spent on consumption for food, education, luxury goods, rent and so on. If we include remittance, Nepal’s national savings would increase to 45%.So that means, if Nepal stops getting remittance, domestic savings would be negligible. Therefore, Nepal must make the best use of remittance when it is still receiving the hard money, since remittance will not continue forever. Nepal must decrease consumption, save more and invest in projects. But building projects require productive and experienced laborers, which migrant returnees could fulfill. Therefore, that is why I am very excited to be here today to have experts who can showcase their affluent knowledge in starting an entrepreneurship/business.
When Nepali workers come home from Korea, they have all this knowledge and experience. But they do not know what to do and how to start. They become restless and bored. Today’s workshop has focused on these issues. We have had several speakers today who have given ideas about what returnees could do.
David Sharma of Nepal Innovation Technology &Entrepreneurship Center of the Pokhara University spoke about the importance of ‘Business Model’s. Business model is a ‘master plan’ for running a business successfully. This type of model gives new ideas and opportunities for running businesses. But it also gives information potential drawbacks or trade-offs an entrepreneur may face in the future. Resources are always limited. A businessperson may have a limited source of capital, so he needs to maximize value by thinking all potential advantages and drawbacks from a potential project. It is important to ask questions. Who are your target consumers? What kind of value are you providing your customers? How do you reach your target consumers? What is the best medium for reaching target audience?
Similarly, Professor Choi Seong-joo of University of Korea Tech will also talk in the afternoon session about how there needs to be focus on what migrant returnees can do for Nepal’s economy after their return, instead of just the focusing on sending Nepali workers abroad for employment. Remittance is a short-term phenomenon and workers will eventually come back home. Returnees could make a significant contribution to Nepal’s development because they have already acquired skills from working abroad. However, Nepal has not managed to organize and gather these skilled returnees. Returnees are disorganized and scattered all over the country. Both Government and relevant institutions must take proactive steps to utilize them. Career guidance, providing skill training, financial networking, training on financial management, and providing micro financing are key issues for migrants after their return back to Nepal. There are several institutions which could help Nepali returnees. CTEVT, TITI, KOICA, Ankur and HRD Korea are all relevant institutions from where migrants could seek help.
Just yesterday, the Embassy of Republic of Korea signed a MoU with Ministry of Finance regarding establishing an IT center at TITI at Thimi, Bhaktapur. Hopefully, the IT center will strengthen the capacity of TITI instructors. This IT center will enable TITI instructorsto offer courses in Technological Vocation Courses to teachers working in different parts of the country. This project is aimed at having an e-library and online courses so that teachers could have access to resources from any part of the country. Hopefully, the end result is that knowledge could be passed from TITIinstructors to teachers and then to students, which could propel the country forward. As we know, technology is an important section of the economy in this modern world.
Finally, I would like to add that holding events like today is important. As a friend of Nepal, I would like to see Nepal prosper just as Korea has prospered. Nepal has the resources and the labor force. Just as the experts today have mentioned, utilizing migrant returnees and their savings would be important for Nepal’s future development.
Youngsik Park is the Ambassador of Republic of Korea to Nepal