KATHMANDU: Frequent change in leadership at the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) has prompted widespread corruption and crippled daily work at the most crowded front-line government office, affecting some 2,500 service seekers daily.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) this week appointed Bishwo Nath Dhakal as the new head of the department. Dhakal is the eighth director general to take charge of one of the ‘most corrupt’ government offices in two-and-a-half years.
Regardless of crackdowns by anti-graft bodies in the recent months, there has been steady rise in corruption, sources said. With high level officials, including the Labour minister, turning blind eyes to the anomalies, fraudulent practices such as use of dual contract letters, false orientation and fake health certificates, has gone rampant.
There has been similar increase in other anomalies, including exorbitant recruitment charge from workers, use of made-up documents and final work permits, change of company and work in destination countries, forgery of embassy accreditation and so on. Ministry officials said the dominance of dishonest officials loyal to recruiting agencies has made it harder for authorities to control these irregularities.
High level sources said the Labour Minister for State Tek Bahadur Gurung has changed three director generals in three months after clash of interest with the recruiting agencies. He has also brought in dozens of his loyalists in various DoFE positions. Sources said Gurung, who also owns a recruiting agency, appointed these officials under the influence of manpower companies.
As a result, service seekers these days are compelled to spend a week to a month for works which used to done in few days in the past.
“He (Gurung) has been bringing in officials who are loyal to him by transferring the honest ones. The department has been dominated by loyalists of recruiting agencies,” said a ministry source.
The MoLE has appointed some 250 staffers at the department in the past two years after many of its officials faced corruption charges and increased demand of workforce following the creation of country-specific sections.
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) arrested nearly five dozens DoFE staffers in the past two years.
The MoLE has appointed seven director generals at the department since March 2012, giving them an average of four months to prove themselves. Some of the former director generals told the Post that they were transferred after they planned to launch crackdown on the irregularities surrounding the foreign employment industry.
In early March 2012, the government transferred Purna Chandra Bhattarai to appoint Man Bahadur BK. Bhattarai was later reinstated following intense criticism in the media and civil society.
Binod KC, Rabindra Mohan Bhattarai, Krishna Hari Pushkar, Jagannath Devkota and Bishwo Nath Dhakal, respectively, took charge of the department in the later months. They hardly got time to feel comfortable in the new environment.
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