Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli Wednesday said that the pandemic had thrown millions of workers and enterprises vulnerable resulting in decline in investment, trade and disruption in travel industry.
Prime Minister Oli said protection of the most vulnerable, including migrant workers and those in informal sectors, and provision of adequate social security and health care was the key to minimize the impact of COVID-19.
He called for robust global response from the United Nations and its specialized agencies like International Labor Organisation (ILO) to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the form of job losses and poverty.
Addressing ILO Global Summit held virtually, Prime Minister Oli He further said that the effect of the crisis in the job market and poverty would be unusually high in Least Developed Countries and low-income states.
According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the global summit brought together over 50 heads of the state and government, prominent leaders of employers organisations and trade unions as well as heads of international organisations to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on employment and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of workers around the world.
“Declining remittances and potential reduction in official development assistance (ODA) and shrinkage of other resources will further compound economic stagnation,” the Prime Minister said.
“Crisis of this proportion calls for robust global response with United Nations and its specialised agencies like ILO at the centre. We should support and strengthen them to promote human-centred agenda of decent work as embraced by the ILO,” Prime Minister Oli added.
Protection of the most vulnerable, including the migrant workers and those in informal sectors, and provision of adequate social security and health care are the key to minimize the impact, he said.
However, it is unfortunate that the migrant workers who have contributed to the building of destination countries are losing hopes and returning home in the midst of the pandemic without protection of their jobs and income, he said.
“This situation, contrary to the ILO principles, could have been avoided and norms of WHO should have been observed in the process,” PM Oli said.
Prime Minister Oli said that Nepal had faced huge pressure in its health system as larger number of migrant workers entered the country suddenly falling into the problem in destination countries despite his direct telephonic conversation with heads of the state of destination countries for their protection and wellbeing.
“Humanity is tested in the time of crisis. Our conscience should guide us to uphold justice and fairness even in the time of extreme difficulty,” the Prime Minister said.
“International solidarity at this hour could prevent the job losses, return of migrant workers and reversal in the progress of SDGs and resulting rise of poverty. Poverty and sudden stress on local labour market endangers larger peace and stability worldwide.”
He said that it was estimated that nearly 63 per cent of Nepali workforce would face some degree of impact, which is more severe in the urban areas and in service industries like hotels, restaurants, catering, and tourism sector. “We have responded to the situation with some immediate and medium-term measures,” he said.
“For those in informal sector, we have provided food and wage for work as an immediate relief. For those in the formal sector, we have ensured payroll protection, re-scheduling and capitalization of loans and waivers on electricity, among others.”
He said that Nepal had devised programmes like the Prime Minister’s Employment Programme, food for work, subsidy to private sector for apprenticeship wages, skilling for re-deployment, and reorienting of poverty alleviation funds for production and sustainable employment generation, restructuring of agriculture and support to SMEs