The economic sector in Nepal has remained the most affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing restrictions, including the strict lockdowns. Like many other countries, Nepal had to opt for safety measures to contain the contagion after its outbreak. The restrictions resulted in the loss of many jobs and sources of livelihood. Although the government has already lifted lockdowns and allowed most of the economic activities to resume, the local job market is yet to recover. As per a study conducted by Nepal Rastra Bank two month ago, about 22 per cent people employed in the industrial and service sectors had lost their jobs because of COVID-19. The study also showed that micro, small and medium enterprises were the most affected sectors. As there is no any sign of virus infections and fatalities dropping soon in the country, the economic sector is unlikely to bounce back anytime soon. Bearing this in view, the government has come up with some plans to support businesses by providing low-interest loans and other inceptives.
Meanwhile, the government has begun collecting data about unemployment from across the country through local governments. The Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA) has instructed all the rural municipalities and municipalities to gather the data regarding the unemployment situation in their respective areas and submit them to it within a week. Issuing a notice to the local bodies, the ministry has asked them to collect the details of the returnee migrants who lost their jobs in foreign countries owing to the pandemic and other unemployed people aged between 18 to 59 years. Tens of thousands of Nepalis are believed to have lost their jobs abroad and more than 150,000 have returned home after the outbreak of the pandemic. According to the notice, each local government is required to collect the name, educational qualification, age, contact details acquired skills and training, and the country of employment of the returnee migrants.
The details should also include the reason of return (loss of job or completion of education). The local governments need to gather the details such as persons' name, age, educational qualification, number of members in the family and acquired expertise, training and skill of the unemployed people. The government aims to study the prospect of re-employment within the country. Besides, the database should also record the information about the people's disability, if any. The ministry has asked the local bodies to obtain the information about the unemployed people from the Crisis Management Information System and Employment Management Information System as far as possible. The ministry's notice stated that the local governments should create a Google sheet of the statistics in case of new or unrecorded data and submit them to the system through State Programme Implementation Unit under the State and Local Governance Support Programme (PLGSP).
As per an estimation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), about 2.5 million jobs are needed in the country if COVID-19 continues to hit jobs at home and abroad. An estimated one million enterprises in the country had employed some 3.4 million people but the pandemic has thrown the job market into disarray. The government had pledged to create some 700,000 new jobs through the Prime Minister’s Employment Programme, Youth and Small Entrepreneur Self-Employment Fund, technical, vocational and skill-development training, agriculture and forest-based industries and MSMEs during the current fiscal year.