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18-05-2018
The art and ‘craft’ of buying foreign passports
Fleeing India has never been so easy. Specialised firms, with offices in Dubai and other financial centres, are in regular touch with many Indian wealth managers, tax practitioners, and lawyers -- fishing for rich clients who are ready to surrender their Indian passports and take citizenship of countries like Dominica, St Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, St Kitts, Malta, or Cyprus. For many well-heeled Indians, it’s an escape route to an easier tax regime and jurisdiction promising friendlier business climate; but for some, it’s a secret plan to run away from Indian courts well before local enforcement authorities get a whiff of their handiwork. ET reached out to some of the leading firms which process and facilitate the programmes that offer citizenship between 3 to 4 months for investment ranging between $100,000 and $2.4 million. “Over 10% of our clients are Indian NRIs as well as Indian nationals residing in India. During the course of the past 4 years, we have witnessed a trend of over 40% increase in applicants coming from India… Our clients find us online or through word of mouth. Between July 2017 to February 2018 there has been a 65% increase in enquiries for an alternative citizenship from both NRI and Resident Indian nationals following a high-profile push by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration to be more vigilant and effective on tax collections on individuals and corporates owned by either by resident or NRIs,” said Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of the Dubai-headquartered Citizenship Invest, which over the 9 years since its inception has advised thousands to obtain new nationality. “Any country with a lawful citizenship by investment program or an immigration program conducts thorough due diligence on all applicants before granting the residency or citizenship. If the applicant, no matter the nationality, is a defaulter of bank loans or has been involved in tax evasion they would not be granted citizenship,” said Cotdemiey. But chances are such people can never be touched if news of their involvement in a fraud breaks long after their application for citizen has been accepted, investment in the new country has been cleared, and a new passport has been issued. Arton Capital, which has advised 200 families from India in the past five years, has received higher enquiries since January 2017. This was possibly due to demonetisation, said Leena Motwani, associate vice president at Arton in Dubai. CARIBBEAN CHARM Many were drawn to the Caribbean islands -- Commonwealth of Dominica and St Lucia -- due to low application cost. These passports allow visa-free travel in 120 countries including the Schengen zone, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and other relevant jurisdictions and the citizenship programs require single applicants to make a financial contribution of $100,000 to a government fund. To improve their fragile finances, these tiny countries, along with ones like Antigua and Barbuda -- where a single applicant has to pay only $50,000 (Rs 34 lakh at the present exchange rate) -- have developed schemes where contribution to a government fund or a real estate investment can fetch citizenship in a few months. The currencies are pegged to the dollar and there is no tax on foreign income, capital gains, imports, gift, inheritance and wealth. Many Indians, said Cotdemiey, are interested in Grenadian citizenship as it is the only Caribbean passport that allows visa-free entry to China, which is an advantage for Indians who have businesses in China. Grenada, which reopened the programme in 2013, offers citizen for a non-refundable contribution of $200,000 to the National Transformation Fund (NTF). According to Marco Gantenbein, Managing Partner at Henley & Partners (Middle East, Dubai, UAE), in terms of residence-by-investment program with minimum physical presence requirements, the Thailand Elite Residence Program and Portugal’s Golden Residence Permit Program are the most popular among Indian nationals. “While India does not yet allow dual citizenship, wealthy Indian nationals are looking for a ‘Plan B’ option that will provide them and their family with this `safety and security — and the most direct route is through residence-by-investment,” said Gantenbein. The wealthy, with little to fear, prefer Cyprus which is currently the only European country which can grant an entire family a European nationality within 6 months. Investors are requ
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18-05-2018
Global Compacts must offer compassion, dignity and hope
This week UN member states are meeting in New York for the fourth of six rounds of formal consultations on the Global Compact on Migration with the aim of finalizing the text in advance of the UN General Assembly in September 2018. The United Nations set out ambitious plans to create more effective and humane collaboration on migration and refugees with the New York Declaration adopted by its Members States in September 2016. It was the starting point for talks on two compacts, the Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Compact on Refugees, to be adopted in 2018. Caritas is concerned about the wide gap between the Compacts’ intentions and the current policies and practices on the ground. They must ensure that no one is left behind, by creating legal pathways to move in safety and dignity for all migrants and refugees. Shared responsibility in supporting refugees fleeing conflict, climate change and poverty must also be achieved. Together with the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN Caritas Internationalis recently co-hosted an interfaith conference with Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders at the United Nations in New York ahead of critical talks on Global Compacts on migration and refugees. Together the leaders called on countries to respect the human rights and dignity of every migrant and refugee and ensure they have safe passage and legal protection in inclusive societies. “They knock on our doors asking for help and a welcome. In their eyes we see a yearning for peace.” – Pope Francis The Sharing the Journey of Migrants and Refugees: An Interfaith Perspective on the Global Compacts event included the Venerable Gijun Sugitani, Rabbi David Rosen, Sheikh Mohamad Abou Zeid, Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and was chaired by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. “Faith leaders are urging governments to improve their response to the mass movements of people and to reduce the suffering of millions,” said Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Tagle. “The Global Compacts offer a once-in-a-generation chance to challenge the rising tide of xenophobia.” Leaders from different faiths recognize that responding to the movement of displaced people through international cooperation and shared responsibility is one of the most complex challenges of our generation. Lebanon’s Sheikh Mohamad Abou Zeid said: “Ibrahim, Moses, and Jesus were great religious leaders who lived part of their lives ‎away from their homeland as immigrants.‎ Islam talks about migration as a justified choice for those who are under threat, or being ‎persecuted, or oppressed.” Reverend Rachel Carnegie, co-executive director of the Anglican Alliance, said faith-based organizations are well-placed not only to support migrants and refugees but to help forge a different global response to the mass movement of people. “This is less about subtle negotiations of words and phrases, and more fully about real people’s lives – embracing with great vision this once-in-a generation opportunity to shape cooperative action,” Rev. Carnegie says. “The journey for the negotiations is not over. The journey for migrants and refugees is far from over. As religious communities we are committed to continue sharing the journey with them.” In New York refugees shared moving personal stories of how they had fled violence and conflict to create a better life. Most of the time they had no choice. Moustafa Aldoori left Iraq with his family and came to the US in 2008 after spending two years in Syria. He had been kidnapped in his homeland for nine days and feared he would be killed. “We were left with no choice but to leave or die,” he said. “It was a very hard decision to make.” A Muslim, he now works for Catholic Charities in New York. Alicia Solorzano Leonor left El Salvador to join her parents who had headed to the US in search of work. She was frightened to go to school in her homeland and now she looks forward to it. “There’s too much violence in my country,” she said. “Being here as an immigrant makes me feel safe.” Caritas urges countries to address human trafficking, slavery, and labour and sexual exploitation, in particular of women and children. The Global Compacts must similarly address the exploitation of migrants who are de
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18-05-2018
UN Member States Start Fourth Round of Negotiations on Migration Compact
At the half-way point of the intergovernmental negotiation process for a global compact on migration, delegates met to complete their consideration of the latest version of the text (‘Draft Rev 1’). The week-long meeting is also expected to include discussion of a capacity-building mechanism to facilitate implementation of the compact. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is being prepared for adoption at an intergovernmental conference convening from 10-11 December 2018, in Morocco. Negotiations on the text are taking place in six rounds between February and July 2018, in New York, US, led by co-facilitators Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland, and Juan José Gómez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico. The fourth round of intergovernmental negotiations is under way from 14-18 May 2018. The first revised draft of the global compact (‘Draft Rev 1’) was issued in March 2018, and delegates began considering it during the third round of consultations in April. Opening the meeting on 14 May, Lauber reminded delegates that the compact should be practical, specific and implementable. He said the text should be finalized at the sixth round of consultations in July, as specified in the UNGA resolution on ‘Modalities for the intergovernmental negotiations of the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration’ (71/280), and that negotiations cannot be extended, considering the number of other negotiations also taking place at the UNGA during the northern fall. Lauber remarked that the voluntary trust fund for the intergovernmental conference and its preparatory process is empty, and called on delegations to contribute to it. Nepal, for several countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Ecuador, Liechtenstein, Mexico and Uruguay, highlighted the importance of the global compact as the first agreement negotiated at the UN that covers all the dimensions of migration. He stressed the need to “not fall short of the commitments” made in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, and to keep the momentum going. Bulgaria for the Group of Friends of Children and the SDGs, remarked that “it’s not the words on paper that matter for children” but action on the ground, such as: more effective protection from smugglers and traffickers; safe access to schools, hospitals and policy stations without fear of deportation; and support to help children and their families reintegrate their country upon their return. Chile noted that it has undertaken a migration reform on the principles of safe, orderly and regular migration. Jamaica called for promoting cooperation at all levels and to establish a global fund to address migration. The Philippines for like-minded states on decent work and migration, including Fiji, Guatemala, Nepal, Paraguay and Switzerland, suggested that the compact: better link decent work and labor migration; promote decent work with actionable objectives; and address the vulnerability of women migrant workers. Liechtenstein called to strengthen the compact in view of international human rights law, and said its follow-up and review should ensure substantial coherence with the 2030 Agenda. India noted that the “current discourse of the global compact is colored negatively,” and stressed the need to strengthen the positive contribution of migrants in the document, including by highlighting this “up front.” Panama called for measures to raise awareness on displacement caused by the effects of climate change, and Vietnam noted the need to address matters related to migration as a result of environmental degradation and climate change. Canada said the gender responsiveness of the compact is a priority for the country, and some countries suggested including gender as a cross-cutting issue in the text. On eliminating all forms of discrimination and promoting fact-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migrants (objective 17 of the compact), many delegations called for replacing “discouraging” with “prohibiting” or “suppressing” public funding to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants. Austria on behalf of a group of 27 EU States cautioned against text that would infringe on the freedom of the press. Comoros on behalf of the African Group and El Salvador asked to
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18-05-2018
Forwarding Social Media Posts Equal To Endorsing It: Madras HC Denies Anticipatory Bail To BJP Leader S Ve Shekher
While rejecting anticipatory bail plea of journalist turned BJP leader S Ve Shekher who allegedly shared a derogatory Facebook post on women journalists, the Madras High Court has observed that sharing or forwarding a message in social media is equal to accepting and endorsing the message. “No one has any right to abuse women and if done it is a violation of rights. When calling a person with community name itself is a crime, using such unparliamentarily words is more heinous. Words are more powerful than acts, When a celebrity-like person forwards messages like this, the common public will start believe it that this type of things are going on”, the court said. “What is said is important, but who has said it, is very important in a society because people respect persons for the social status. When a celebrity-like person forwards messages like this, the common public will start believe it that this type of things are going on. This sends a wrong message to the society at a time when we are talking about women empowerment, Justice S Ramathilagam said in the order. “The language and the words used are not indirect but a direct abusive obscene foul language which is not expected from a person of this calibre and age who claims to be a literate with lot of credential with lot of followers”. S Ve Shekher, in his petition, had said he had received a message from his friend and under the bona fide impression, as the message was from the one who usually forwards good and patriotic messages, he, due to inadvertency by mistake, forwarded the said message without reading the contents and knowing the nature of the said message. Subsequently, the same was pointed out by his friend that the said content was an abusive one, he deleted the same as it was not at all accepted for him and condemnable in nature. “It is also to be remembered that Indian women, who fought as equals as men in the nationalist struggle, the act of the petitioner smashes and affects the feeling of each person. On hearing the arguments of the intervening petitioners, the petitioner has hurt the feeling not only the individual but the feeling of each reporter. The said post in the Facebook created a disturbance in the society and there is also a designed attempt on the part of the accused by keeping himself behind the scene and instigating the persons. It is also observed that only after protest by all group of people, the case was registered and immediately after registering the case, the post in the Facebook also blocked by the accused. It is argued by the petitioners that this shows the ulterior motive of the accused. The intervening petitioner has expressed their grievance that the manner of investigation is being made in this case affect the feeling of the entire society and the feeling of the society has to be considered”. Words are more powerful than acts The Court observed that the words are more powerful than acts. “Not all murders are given capital punishment. We look into the circumstances and all related aspects under which the act was done. Those words used in the message are not said under emotion. People use such words during quarrel and later they may regret but putting things in writing or typing means they know the consequences and do it”. The court further observed: “Daily we see young emotional boys getting arrested for doing this type of activities in Social media? Law is same to everyone and people should not lose faith in our judiciary. Mistakes and crimes are not same. Only children can make mistakes which can be pardoned, if the same is done by elderly people, it becomes an offence.” No one has any right to abuse women and if done it is a violation of rights The Court also observed that no one has any right to abuse women and if done it is a violation of rights. When calling a person with community name itself is a crime, using such unparliamentarily words is more heinous. “There cannot be any harsher words than this which portraits all working women coming up in life are sacrificing their chasity. The future of such working women is at stake. Instead of wiping out the wrong impression about working women among the public these words create fear and anxiety among people who want to pursue a career. After seeing these forwarded words from a person who is popular and has lot of connections with media people for long, the public will look at every working women wit
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18-05-2018
Kerala begins programme to train tribals, migrant labourers to read, write
Kerala has embarked on a programme to bridge the small gap in its achievements by training illiterates among tribals, scheduled castes, transgenders and the migrant labour communities It has been billed as a state with 100 per cent literacy. But people there know they had an unfinished task. Having actually reached an overall literacy rate of 93.94 per cent, Kerala has now embarked on a programme to bridge the small gap in its achievements by training illiterates among tribals, scheduled castes, transgenders and the migrant labour communities. Stock-taking of the activities in the past two years of the Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority (KSLMA) revealed that 11,000 students—mostly from Wayanad and Palakkad districts—are at various levels of equivalency exams among the tribal community. There are also 5,300 migrant labourers, 2,000 from the scheduled castes and 145 transgenders whose literacy levels are now being raised. “The main reasons for the programme to have got a good response was because the trainers (teachers) are drawn from these communities themselves, leading students to immediately correlate with them—the oldest of whom is a 90-year tribal woman in Wayanad,” said Director of KSLMA, PS Sreekala."We have 601 tribal teachers who are supporting us, besides retired teachers and colleges students. We have set out a timetable of 100 hours of classes where the basics of maths and Malayalam are taught to these illiterates and neo-literates. Our aim is to enable them to integrate themselves into the society, wherein they need not feel any sort of complex that they do not know to read or write," said Sreekala. While the fee for the 100-hour classes till the equivalent 7th is free, students have to pay ₹1,950 to ₹2,250 from Class X and above. For SC/ST students it is fully free. With the scheme picking up, the respective local bodies are supporting the students by paying their fees.Twenty-six-year-old Sunitha, who hails from a tribal settlement at Peringottukunnu in Wayanad district, said that she had just written the Class 4 equivalency test. "Our son in the new academic year will be in Class 1 and I am happy that I can teach him to the best of my ability, from what I learned. Before I went for my classes I could not read, but now I am able to slowly read even a newspaper. I now want to attend classes for the next level. I wish to do it because then I will be able to at least guide our son," Sunitha said.The KSLMA has been supported by successive state governments and for the current fiscal has been allocated ₹17 crore, up from ₹15.50 crore in the previous fiscal. Of this, ₹12 crore has been set aside for the literacy programme.Speaking to IANS, PN Babu, the coordinator of the programme in Wayanad, said that it was a huge experience not just for students but also for the educators."There are around 2,975 tribal colonies here and we have touched 300 colonies where we got the students to attend the basic course in literacy. We held classes once a week and everyone who attended has carried the message back to their colonies. Hence, not only are we going to get more students from these colonies but are also starting classes in another 200 colonies," Babu added.The state is well on its way to be truly called a literate one.
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18-05-2018
International emigrants from Kerala declined to 2.2 million in 2016
Simultaneously, migration to other states declined from 1.1 million in 2003 to 0.9 million in 2008 and further declined to 0.65 million in 2016, as per a Kerala Migration Survey. Giving a twist to the demographic transition, the number of international emigrants from Kerala - which peaked during 2013 with 2.4 million people living abroad - declined to 2.2 million in 2016. Simultaneously, migration to other states declined from 1.1 million in 2003 to 0.9 million in 2008 and further declined to 0.65 million in 2016, as per a Kerala Migration Survey. The statistics underscore the state’s future of human development is dependent on how fast inward migration catches up with the current level of development. On the domestic inward migration front, around 2.5 million migrant workers from other states were estimated to be present in Kerala in 2013. However, as per the growth patterns indicated by the Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation, 3.5 to 4 million workers from other states were estimated in 2017, although economic stagnation during 2017-18 affected the flow of migrants. This is likely to grow once the current industrial stagnation is over. The state cannot go forward when there is a serious demographic transition and the state should be better equipped to face the challenges ahead. A dip in the number of people belonging to the age-group which migrates and the return of Kerala emigrants due to the instability in West Asia are likely to result in a reduction of remittances, adversely affecting the economy which to a large extent is dependent on the emigrant workforce. And it is likely the African region may emerge as a prominent destination as migrant workers from other states fill in an important vacuum and play an indispensable role in the current labour market in Kerala.S Irudaya Rajan, a senior demographer and researcher with CDS, said the policy brief was submitted to the state government and it is up to the government to come up with a solution to solve the emerging crisis.
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18-05-2018
‘LET INDIA LEAD UN NEGOTIATION ON MIGRATION’
INTUC national vice-president and Indian National Migrant Workers’ Union president Dr Rama Chandra Khuntia on Sunday alleged that the Union Government has not been very much serious about UN negotiation on ‘Global Compact on Migration’ which is being held in New York. Khuntia informed that as per the Abu Dhabi and Colombo dialogues, various problems of migration labourers are being held by UN member States at New York. “India, being largest sender of migrant labourers to the USA, the UK Australia and middle-east GCC countries, gets the highest remittance to the extent of 70 billion US dollar per annum. While 25 million of Indian workers are working in different countries, India should lead other countries in holding negotiation for ensuring wages, safety, healthcare and social security to migrant labourers,” demanded Khuntia Informing that he had participated in the Colombo seminar of migrant labourers held on May 6 to 9, Khuntia said he placed a demand that the Government of India should take lead in the ongoing negotiation, which could give benefit to migrant labourers, including 2.5 million Indian workers. As many as 45 migrant worker sender countries and receiving countries participated in the discussion. He would also attend ‘Civil Societies Go and Trade Union’ meeting to be held at New York from June 4 to 8.
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18-05-2018
A Global Compact to return migrants?
Defending commitments on regularization doesn’t mean providing permits to all people with irregular status, but instead promoting the development of more objective, clear, accessible and affordable procedures and criteria. As the fourth of six rounds of negotiations begins, there is a stark lack of consensus among states regarding the fundamental meaning of the Global Compact for Migration. In its current version, the text of this unprecedented agreement would prioritize returning people to their countries of origin as the main response to irregular migration. Today, it is estimated that between 15% and 20% of migrants in the world have an irregular status – and this figure is probably far below reality. These statistics refer overwhelmingly to people who have entered the country with a regular status (as tourists, students, workers, etc.) and lost that status later. Only a minority cross the border in clandestine conditions. This situation increases the vulnerability of migrants, segregation, xenophobia and violence. How to respond to this reality in countries of destination is one of the most controversial issues in the Global Compact negotiations. It is a challenge for the countries of the Global North, but also for those of the South, where much global migration is concentrated. To promote safe, orderly and regular migration According to the New York Declaration of 2016, the Global Compact must promote safe, orderly and regular migration. An evident tension has arisen around these concepts. One perspective links them to the promotion of more dignified migration, which entails defining strategies to ensure that people who now migrate in situations of constant risk can do so safely and with regular status. This requires objectives and concrete commitments to policies such as the enhancement of regular pathways and migratory regularization, which have positive effects for migrants and the society of destination, and increase the state’s administrative capacities. Another perspective asserts the impossibility of assuming commitments regarding regularization, arguing that the Global Compact “would be incentivizing irregular migration.” Studies challenge the widespread notion that regularization prompts an increase in migration flows. This did not happen in countries where regularization was adopted as policy. In the case of Argentina, between 2004 and the first half of 2015, nearly 2 million residency applications were resolved, but the migrant population held steady at between 4.5 and 5 percent of the national population, a figure even lower than in previous decades. At the same time, since the first round of negotiations on the Compact, some state delegations have repeatedly requested that the text specify the “differences” between obligations and rights in relation to regular and irregular migrants, and migrants and refugees. Since the first round of negotiations on the Compact, some state delegations have repeatedly requested that the text specify the “differences” between obligations and rights in relation to regular and irregular migrants, and migrants and refugees. Them and Us – responses to migratory irregularity Structuring the debate this way conceals a fundamental fact when it comes to understanding what is at stake: a person’s inclusion in any of these categories depends on decisions made by the state. It is the state that must recognize the refugee status of people covered under international and regional conventions. In all other cases, the state exercises its discretionary power to grant entry permits and residency, and to extend or transform these permits in its territory, establishing criteria and procedures for that purpose. In other words, regular migration does not exist if the state does not generate the conditions for migrants to gain access to the permits required to enter and/or remain in the country. The revised first draft of the Global Compact has the merit of preserving some of the strengths of the initial draft (known as zero draft) and of presenting specific advances, such as keeping the commitment to enhance access to pathways for regular migration (Objective 5) – albeit in a somewhat ambiguous manner since it links them to “labor market needs”– and to ensure that migrants have equal access to social services that are essential to exercising their human rights (Objective 15). In broad terms, in addition to these two lines
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18-05-2018
Kuwait, Philippines ink labor pact
“We can probably have a partial lifting of the ban with respect to skilled workers and professionals before Ramadan,” disclosed on Saturday Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III to the Arab Times. Bello made this announcement before he left for Manila on Saturday with the Philippine delegation following the signing on Friday of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on the Employment of Domestic Workers between the Philippines and Kuwait. Kuwait and the Philippines on Friday signed an agreement on employing household helpers. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al- Hamad Al-Sabah and the visiting Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano signed the accord. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled received the Filipino counterpart at the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry and the two sides held talks on promoting bilateral cooperation in all fields. They reiterated the historical ties between Kuwait and the Philippines, expressing readiness to overcome the “exceptional circumstances” of bilateral relations over the past weeks. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled held a luncheon banquet for the Filipino Secretary and his accompanying delegation. The talks were attended by Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah and Assistant Foreign Minister for Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled’s Office Ambassador Sheikh Dr Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, and senior officials at the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry, together with each country’s ambassador to the other. The Filipino delegation also included Bello, Special Presidential Envoy Abdullah Mamao and Presidential Advisor and Spokesman Harry Roque. The eight-page MoA signed by Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Khaled and Cayetano aims to provide better protection for Filipino Household Service Workers (HSWs) in Kuwait. Bello together with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and former Labor Secretary Marianito Roque flew back together with some 87 distressed OFWs at the POLO-OWWA shelters. All the tickets of the repatriates were shouldered by the Kuwait government. Currently, there are 482 wards at the shelter who are set to go home pending their exit clearances as earlier promised by the Kuwait Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials to their Philippine counterpart. Bello reiterated that the partial lifting of the deployment will only be on the newly hired skilled workers while the deployment ban on newly hired HSWs will stay in effect. “For the household service workers, we still have to see the immediate effect of the signed MoA. I will first recommend the partial lifting on the deployment ban on skilled workers and professionals and I will submit this recommendation to the President,” he stated. Among the provisions of the deal are the creation of a 24/7 hotline where Filipino workers may report abuses and a special police unit to respond to such complaints. Stated also in the MoA, the employer shall provide the domestic worker with sufficient food, clothing, medical insurance, treatment, shall open a bank account for salary, allow the domestic workers to have and use cellular phones and other means to communicate with their families and passport should not be in the possession of the employer, among others. “All’s well that ends well,” described Cayetano as to the positive outcome on the MoA signing before leaving for Bahrain on Friday in high spirit to meet with the Bahraini government officials and Filipino community there. “To God be all the glory. We have been praying for this, that we have make a stand, that we have a President who does not only say that you’re heroes but also treat you as one. With our talks here in Kuwait, it’s really different when you talk face-face and everything went well,” stated Cayetano. Cayetano admitted that Kuwait and the Philippines had a tough time amid the diplomatic row. However, both sides are all set to mend the strained ties and move forward. “It was a painful experience to go through this with our relationship with Kuwait but it’s well worth it because we have to tell the whole world that as long the Filipino is out there, the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the DoLE will be there for you. Our Kuwaiti counterparts not only know this but understand it. Certain events were blown up maybe in the Philippines and here including the use of social media so we’re doing all the investigation and inquiry on both sides.
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18-05-2018
Agreement on employment of domestic workers between Kuwait and Philippines
The following is a transcript of the agreement on employment of domestic workers that was signed between the governments of the State of Kuwait and the Republic of the Philippines on Friday: The Government of the State of Kuwait represented by the Public Authority of Manpower, hereinafter referred to as the First Party and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines represented by the Department of Labor and Employment, hereinafter referred to as the Second Party, jointly referred to as the Parties; Noting the Kuwaiti laws and regulations on domestic workers that govern the recruitment and employment of domestic workers in Kuwait and provide the legal protection for the rights of Filipino domestic workers; Noting the Philippine laws on recruitment and deployment of Filipino workers; Based on the shared desire of the “Parties” to ensure the rights of Filipino domestic workers in accordance with the provisions of the Kuwaiti Laws relating to domestic workers and in compliance with the Philippine laws on recruitment and deployment of Filipino workers; Both laws provide legal protection to the employer and Filipino worker. Have agreed as follows: Article 1: Areas of Cooperation The Parties shall undertake the following: 1. Uphold ethical recruitment policies, systems, and procedures for the recruitment and employment of domestic workers, pursuant to the applicable laws and regulations of both Parties; 2. The recruitment and employment of Filipino domestic workers will be governed by a standard contract; 3. Ensure that the recruitment and entry of domestic workers, as well as their repatriation under this Agreement shall be in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations of both Parties; 4. Take legal measures against erring employers, domestic workers, Kuwaiti recruitment or Philippine recruitment agencies for any violation of employment contract provisions, applicable laws, rules and regulations of both Parties; 5. Resolve any issues arising from the implementation and enforcement of any provision of this Agreement; 6. Provide a mechanism of inspection and monitoring of the level of care offered to the domestic workers through official authorities in Kuwait; 7. Guarantee the compliance with the recruitment laws and regulations of both countries; 8. Working on reducing the costs of recruitment of the domestic workers; 9. Both parties are committed to open all areas of cooperation relating to sending and recruiting domestic workers through all licensed recruitment offices or agencies . Article 2 Responsibilities of the First Party The First Party shall: 1. Guarantee the rights of domestic workers as provided by the applicable laws, rules and regulations of the “First Party”; 2. Ensure that the employer shall provide the worker with food, housing, clothing, and registering the domestic worker in the health insurance system that covers her/his treatment in case of illness or injury due to work as well as being committed to compensate her/him for job injuries and transporting the deceased body of the domestic worker to her/his country when she/he dies and paying the wages of the month in which the worker died and other rights as provided in the Kuwaiti Law; 3. Ensure that the employer is not allowed to keep in her/his possession any of the domestic workers’ personal identity documents such as passport. Both Parties agreed that the passport is the property of the Philippine government under its law and should not be in the possession of the employer; 4. Allow the domestic workers to have and use cellular phones and other means to communicate. with their families and their government and to prohibit their employers from confiscating them; 5. Disqualify employers who have records of contract violations or abusing workers from recruiting Filipino workers and pursue appropriate legal action against such employers; 6. Facilitate the opening by the employer of a bank account under the name of the domestic worker and allow the domestic worker the reasonable opportunity to remit her/his monthly salary to the Philippines as provided for in the employment contract; 7. Ensure that an aggrieved worker shall have access to the services of the Department of Domestic Labor, which has the jurisdiction to settle any dispute that arises between the parties to the contract. The Department of Domestic Labor shall settle the dispute within fourteen (14) days from the date that the c
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18-05-2018
Agreement on employment of domestic workers between Kuwait and Philippines
The following is a transcript of the agreement on employment of domestic workers that was signed between the governments of the State of Kuwait and the Republic of the Philippines on Friday: The Government of the State of Kuwait represented by the Public Authority of Manpower, hereinafter referred to as the First Party and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines represented by the Department of Labor and Employment, hereinafter referred to as the Second Party, jointly referred to as the Parties; Noting the Kuwaiti laws and regulations on domestic workers that govern the recruitment and employment of domestic workers in Kuwait and provide the legal protection for the rights of Filipino domestic workers; Noting the Philippine laws on recruitment and deployment of Filipino workers; Based on the shared desire of the “Parties” to ensure the rights of Filipino domestic workers in accordance with the provisions of the Kuwaiti Laws relating to domestic workers and in compliance with the Philippine laws on recruitment and deployment of Filipino workers; Both laws provide legal protection to the employer and Filipino worker. Have agreed as follows: Article 1: Areas of Cooperation The Parties shall undertake the following: 1. Uphold ethical recruitment policies, systems, and procedures for the recruitment and employment of domestic workers, pursuant to the applicable laws and regulations of both Parties; 2. The recruitment and employment of Filipino domestic workers will be governed by a standard contract; 3. Ensure that the recruitment and entry of domestic workers, as well as their repatriation under this Agreement shall be in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations of both Parties; 4. Take legal measures against erring employers, domestic workers, Kuwaiti recruitment or Philippine recruitment agencies for any violation of employment contract provisions, applicable laws, rules and regulations of both Parties; 5. Resolve any issues arising from the implementation and enforcement of any provision of this Agreement; 6. Provide a mechanism of inspection and monitoring of the level of care offered to the domestic workers through official authorities in Kuwait; 7. Guarantee the compliance with the recruitment laws and regulations of both countries; 8. Working on reducing the costs of recruitment of the domestic workers; 9. Both parties are committed to open all areas of cooperation relating to sending and recruiting domestic workers through all licensed recruitment offices or agencies . Article 2 Responsibilities of the First Party The First Party shall: 1. Guarantee the rights of domestic workers as provided by the applicable laws, rules and regulations of the “First Party”; 2. Ensure that the employer shall provide the worker with food, housing, clothing, and registering the domestic worker in the health insurance system that covers her/his treatment in case of illness or injury due to work as well as being committed to compensate her/him for job injuries and transporting the deceased body of the domestic worker to her/his country when she/he dies and paying the wages of the month in which the worker died and other rights as provided in the Kuwaiti Law; 3. Ensure that the employer is not allowed to keep in her/his possession any of the domestic workers’ personal identity documents such as passport. Both Parties agreed that the passport is the property of the Philippine government under its law and should not be in the possession of the employer; 4. Allow the domestic workers to have and use cellular phones and other means to communicate. with their families and their government and to prohibit their employers from confiscating them; 5. Disqualify employers who have records of contract violations or abusing workers from recruiting Filipino workers and pursue appropriate legal action against such employers; 6. Facilitate the opening by the employer of a bank account under the name of the domestic worker and allow the domestic worker the reasonable opportunity to remit her/his monthly salary to the Philippines as provided for in the employment contract; 7. Ensure that an aggrieved worker shall have access to the services of the Department of Domestic Labor, which has the jurisdiction to settle any dispute that arises between the parties to the contract. The Department of Domestic Labor shall settle the dispute within fourteen (14) days from the date that the c
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18-05-2018
Keralites make outward remittances too; Rs 1,500 crore sent to relatives abroad last year
Kerala may be known as a 'remittance economy' or the 'money order economy,' indicating its huge reliance on the large sums of money sent by expatriate Malayalees, mostly in the Gulf countries. Kerala may be known as a 'remittance economy' or the 'money order economy,' indicating its huge reliance on the large sums of money sent by expatriate Malayalees, mostly in the Gulf countries. But, Keralites also send a big chunk of money to their relatives living abroad. As per the latest statistics, Kerala's outward remittances falling under the 'maintenance of close relatives living aboard' or 'MCR' section crossed Rs 1,500 crore during the 12 months ended March 31, 2018. In fact, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) figures indicate that all the states combined spent close to Rs 19,442 crore in the same period in the category of MCR. The total outward remittance from India stood at Rs 75,024 crore in the FY 2017-18. At Rs 54,085 crore in FY 16-17, outward remittances have grown by 38 per cent. Deepesh Varma, senior VP, foreign exchange business, Thomas Cook India, said he was surprised to see the high figures under MCR in the state. Varma, who was in Kochi to announce the company's business plans in the state, added Kerala contributes to about Rs 3,000 crore to the company's annual Rs 15,000 crore business in the country. Under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) issued by the RBI, residents of India are allowed to remit $250,000 in a financial year for overseas education, travel, medical treatment and purchase of shares and property, apart from maintenance of relatives living abroad, gifting and donations. The remittances are allowed to be made in any freely convertible foreign currency. Commenting on the increasing trend of outward remittance figures, Jose Sebastian, faculty, Gulati Insitute of Finance and Taxation, said the localisation of job overseas and stricter work-visa restriction have put increasing financial strain on students, resulting in more outflow of cash from their families. He added the rising trend of Indians undertaking overseas trips and higher education options are further likely to push the figures in the coming years. Leading the list of outward remittances last year, the maximum was spent on overseas travel by Indians, at Rs 26,625 crore. Following MCR in the second place, overseas studies registered the third spot by reporting outward remittances of Rs 13,379 crore. On the other hand, according to a World Bank report, India retained the top spot in global remittance with over Rs 4,56,780 crore flowing into the country last year. The NRI deposits in India averaged $126 billion last FY, recording a positive inflow of about Rs 62,890 crore compared to the previous year.
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18-05-2018
Bahrain MPs vote against new expat taxes, bucking regional trend
Lawmakers in Bahrain have resisted two attempts to make expatriates pay new taxes for owning cars and for sending money home. A draft law submitted by MPs had urged that every foreigner who owned a car should pay $106 in annual registration fees, twice the amount Bahrainis pay. The proposed legislation would also have taxed foreigners on all transfers of funds abroad. Earlier this year, Kuwait’s parliament endorsed a similar draft law that stipulated prison and fines for expatriates who use back channels to send money abroad. Lawmakers said that foreigners sending money home should be made to pay a remittance fees for the state. Yet the proposal was rejected amid fears it would prompt the emergence of a parallel financial market and would damage Bahrain’s reputation as a commendable financial centre. ‘Unconstitutional’ The proposal had already been rejected by Manama’s foreign affairs committee as unconstitutional. With only 16 lawmakers out of 40 were present at the vote in parliament, lawmakers’ efforts to convince their peers of the merits for generating extra revenues for the state and reducing the consumption of subsidised petrol fell flat. More than half of the 1,450,000 people living in Bahrain today are foreigners. According to the 2016 figures, Bahrain was home to 665,000 Bahraini nationals and 760,000 foreigner workers. Bahrain and its five fellow members of the oil-rich GCC have been looking to introduce various measures to raise taxes, and have increasingly looked to target their sizable expatriate labour forces. On 1 January, the UAE introduced VAT for the first time on an extensive list of selected goods and services. And figures from Saudi Arabia, reported last month, have shown that more than 811,000 expatriates have left the kingdom on final exit visas over the previous 18 months. The news came during a week in which Bahrain appeared to signal a change of heart in its approach to its expatriate workforce. The prime minister, Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa felt compelled to comment on Sunday: “Bahrain is a country of tolerance and co-existence that respects and appreciates those who live in it and contribute to building it.”
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18-05-2018
Delight and disbelief: Malaysians celebrate ousting scandal-hit PM
Delight, disbelief and a degree of apprehension about a former strongman taking the reins of power again -- Malaysians were stunned today after the scandal-ridden coalition was finally unseated by a challenge from Mahathir Mohamad, 92. Mahathir's opposition alliance stormed to a historic win at the elections, toppling the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition that had ruled Malaysia for more than six decades. It was a stunning -- and totally unexpected -- win for the nonagenarian, who had ruled Malaysia with an iron fist and came out of retirement due to an explosive corruption scandal that ensnared Prime Minister Najib Razak. Most Malaysians, who turned out in droves to vote out Najib, were delighted but huge crowds did not hit the streets to celebrate -- many were simply exhausted after a bitter election campaign and the gargantuan effort of pushing out a deeply entrenched government. There was a sense of catharsis after the opposition alliance, boosted by the presence of political titan Mahathir, finally ousted a coalition that has for years been accused of massive corruption, fanning racial tensions in the multi-ethnic country and economic mismanagement. "Honestly, I feel like we have just gained independence," Nor Hisham Rahmat, 45, told AFP, expressing a common sentiment among voters. Nor Hisham is from Johor in southern Malaysia, one of several states where the local legislature fell to the opposition for the first time since Malaysia became independent in 1957. He said people's livelihoods had been affected under Najib's rule due to the rising cost of living, a major issue in the election campaign. "People are suffering. That is why BN was toppled," he said. Toh Gian Ming, a 53-year-old businessmen, said he hoped the corruption that plagued public life under Najib would end with a change in government. "I expect all the abuses under Najib will end. I long for a clean and just government," he said. Ganesan Karuppannan, a 54-year-old lawyer, said the country had descended into a "dictatorial situation" in recent years. "People's feelings were not respected, the rule of law was disappearing by the day and every institution in this country has been messed with," he said. Mahathir undoubtedly helped to carry the opposition to victory by appealing to voters sick of Najib's corruption-plagued rule, but his comeback has also been controversial. Many remember him fondly as a key figure in the transformation of Malaysia from sleepy Southeast Asian backwater into a relatively affluent, economic success story. But he was also known as an authoritarian leader, who threw political opponents in jail and hollowed out the country's democratic institutions. "Mahathir ruled the country with an iron fist -- a tiger never changes his stripes -- and Mahathir's style of rule will continue to be authoritarian," said 33-year-old businessman P. Punithan. "Democracy and human rights were never part of his DNA." Get latest news & live updates on the go on your pc with News App. Download The Times of India news app for your device. Read more World news in English and other languages.
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18-05-2018
Indian embassy in Kuwait recognises 6 agencies to recruit nurses and prevent exploitation by private agents
The Indian embassy in Kuwait has recognised six state-run agencies to recruit nurses from India. A senior official at the embassy said that they have sent a proposal to the Kuwaiti government to allow the recruitment of nurses only through these six agencies. “In a bid to streamline the recruitment process and keep away the unscrupulous agents who fleece applicants, we have submitted a proposal to the Kuwaiti government. They have accepted it. We are working on the procedures. Soon, the recruitment will be done only through six state-run agencies,” the official told Firstpost. The proposal is aimed at stopping private agents from charging exorbitant fees from nurses seeking a job in Gulf countries. Furnishing details of nurses working in Gulf countries as on 19 December 2017, the Indian government said Saudi Arabia was the biggest employer with 3,621 Indian nurses under Emigration Check Required (ECR) category working there, followed by Qatar with 350 nurses and Kuwait with a 118 workers. Six state-run agencies had been recognised by the Indian government for the recruitment of nurses to 18 ECR countries in 2015. But despite the Indian government taking several other steps to prevent nurses from being duped by emigration-related fraudsters, including a mandatory ECR requirement, migrant rights activists in India said the number of nurses migrating through unofficial channels and private agencies remain high. Activists say nurses opting to migrate to Kuwait are charged anywhere between Rs 10 and 15 lakh by unauthorised private agencies. While they manage to get the job they were looking for at times, in most cases, they are cheated of their money and denied basic working rights on reaching the Gulf nation. “Once the government plan is put in place, job seekers will have to pay only Rs 30,000 for the recruitment process,” said the embassy official, adding that there are at least 5,000 nursing job opportunities coming up in Kuwait. Citing a recent example where nursing aspirants were duped, Arul Antony, a migrant rights activist, working with the National Domestic Workers Movement in Chennai, said, “A few women were taken to Kuwait by a private agency that offered them nursing jobs at a hospital. However, when they reached, they were forced to do household nursing jobs, without any rest or proper payment or shelter.” “They were finally repatriated after the Indian embassy and the Kuwait foreign affairs department intervened,” he added. Antony said that the middlemen who were involved in the same duping case are trying to recruit more women to Kuwait. “Not only do they (nursing aspirants) pay huge amounts as recruitment fee but they also get duped,” he added. In a successful crackdown on one such private agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had unearthed a Rs 200 crore scam and arrested Varghese Uthup, a Kuwait-based recruiter, in 2017. Instead of charging Rs 19,500 as service charge, Uthup’s Kochi-based firm was allegedly charging Rs 19.5 lakh to recruit nurses to Kuwait. After being charged with cheating, conspiracy to commit criminal misconduct, and collection of excess service charge from emigrants, Uthup remained in Kuwait to evade arrest. However, he was detained by the CBI team when he was forced to visit Kerala. His anticipatory bail was rejected by the Supreme Court. In another similar incident last year, an advertisement was circulated on social media sites in the north eastern states of India offering job opportunities for nurses in the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health and the Kuwait Oil Company. But identifying it as a scam, the Manipur government issued a statement saying that the advertisement was put up to dupe prospective nurses in the country, financially or otherwise, by sending them to Kuwait via Dubai or Bahrain without the involvement of authorised state-run agencies. The Indian embassy in Kuwait had informed that the agency mentioned in the advertisement is not registered under Section 10 of the Emigration Act, 1983 and hence was not authorised to carry out overseas recruitment business as they did not have the valid registration certificate. The Indian embassy official said that once the plan of allowing emigration only through the six state-run agencies is implemented, it will be a “government-to-government recruitment system, where fair practices will exist.” “We have sent requests to all the six manpower agencies. W
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18-05-2018
Bahrain attends Abu Dhabi Dialogue
Labour and Social Development Ministry Undersecretary Sabah Salem Al-Dosary took part in the “Abu Dhabi Dialogue”, which opened today in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The two-day event, which concludes tomorrow, Wednesday, focuses on hiring overseas workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states. The delegations discuss issues related to countries of origins and host countries, highlighting successful practices and other topics linked to labour market regulation. Bahrain is taking part in the “Abu Dhabi Dialogue”, in a bid to strengthen relations with the countries of origins, contribute to elaborating a unified regional vision that guarantees all parties’ rights and exchange best practices on hiring expatriates who meet the needs of the labour market. Al-Dosari stressed the importance of bolstering cooperation between the countries of origin and host countries, describing the “Abu Dhabi Dialogue” as a key platform to discuss challenges.
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18-05-2018
Making migration great again: challenges and opportunities of the UN Global Compact for Migration
With the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants by the UN General Assembly, states have launched an ambitious process of inter-governmental negotiations that will lead to the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration. This Lunch briefing will discuss the challenges and opportunities of the global compact to address the multidimensional reality of migration, improve the governance of migration and strengthen the human rights of migrants and their positive contribution to sustainable development. Dr. Vincent Chetail is Professor of International Law, Director of the Global Migration Centre and Head of the International Law Department. He has published 16 books and over 50 articles, book chapters and reports on migration and has launched 20 research projects on various issues related to migration from both a policy and academic perspective. http://alternatives-humanitaires.org/event/making-migration-great-again-challenges-and-opportunities-of-the-global-compact-for-migration/
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18-05-2018
1,000 highly skilled migrants wrongly face deportation
Experts have said that the highly skilled workers, including teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers and IT professionals, were being refused ILR after being accused of lying in their applications either for making minor and legal amendments to their tax records, or having discrepancies in declared income. At least 1,000 highly skilled migrants seeking Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK wrongly face deportation under a section of the Immigration Act to tackle terrorists and individuals suspected to be a threat to national security, the media reported. Experts have said that the highly skilled workers, including teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers and IT professionals, were being refused ILR after being accused of lying in their applications either for making minor and legal amendments to their tax records, or having discrepancies in declared income, reports the Guardian. Highly Skilled Migrants is a support group that represents over 600 workers and says it is in contact with over 400 more, most of whom are facing deportation, with the rest still waiting for a decision by the Home Office. Aditi Bhardwaj, one of the organisers, said the group has raised about 40,000 pounds ($54,135) to challenge the Home Office in the courts for using the controversial section 322(5) of the Act. “Ten members of our group have taken the Home Office to the first tier tribunal in the past six months. Nine of these won their cases,” said Bhardwaj. Saleem Dadabhoy, a scion of one of the wealthiest families in Pakistan, is facing deportation despite three different appeal courts having scrutinised his accounts and finding no evidence of any irregularities, and a court of appeal judge having ruled that he is trustworthy and credible, the Guardian reported. His deportation would directly lead to the loss of 20 jobs, all held by British citizens, and the closure of a British company worth 1.5 million pounds. Paul Garlick, a former Queen’s Counsel who specialises in extradition and human rights law, and was a part-time judge at the crown court in London said: “The decisions of the Home Office are beyond belief and deplorable.” Afzal Khan MP, the shadow minister for immigration, said: “Driven by a misguided net migration target, the Home Office has gone after what they perceive as easy targets…”
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07-05-2018
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to become biennial event from 2019
In an attempt to engage and bring in line the interests of the Indians, living within and outside the country, to the importance of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, on Saturday, declared the special event will be celebrated every alternate year. A series of sessions, pertaining to the event, will be held to mark its importance. There will be some theme-based sessions conducted in which the Ministry of External Affairs will invite about 12 people including both the nationals and the non-resident Indians. An elaborate discussion will be conducted with them, said Swaraj, who was accompanied by Ministers of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar and VK Singh. Further, some of the themes for the upcoming sessions are being decided to be around 'role of diaspora in capacity-building and artificial intelligence' and 'how diaspora gives back to India and their role with respect to the challenges in India'. Until now, 10 sessions have been conducted in a build-up to next year's programme, which will be held in Varanasi in January. At the panel discussion 'Indian Community Organisations Working for Indian Nationals in Distressed Situation', Swaraj also highlighted her efforts to ensure relief to Indians, who are living in distress in any corner of the world. "To help those Indians who are stuck at various corners of the world has become my life's aim," she said. She also recalled the 'Raahat Operation', wherein 5000 people, including over 1,000 foreigners were evacuated from Yemen in 2015. Recalling the genesis of the programme for the NRIs, she said under the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Bhartiya Janata Party in 2003 had thought to dedicate one day in a year to the Indians residing abroad. Swaraj said Mahatma Gandhi was the most famous NRI of India. Thus, the day he returned to the country is regarded as the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas, which is January 9, the minister said.
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07-05-2018
Faith groups care for refugees in ways governments can’t, group tells U.N.
Faith-based organizations are uniquely able to care for migrants and refugees because they employ a holistic, person-centered approach that respects the human dignity of each individual, and they have established networks throughout the world, according to panelists at a May 3 United Nations event. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, said faith-based organizations provide “much of the infrastructure for immediate and long-term hospitality and accommodation, defend the rights and dignity of refugees and migrants independent of legal status, ensure through education, professional and social inclusion that they are able to achieve their potential as human beings, and enrich them and the societies that embrace them through the exchange of talents and culture.” They are unique in their reach and presence at all points of the migratory journey, often filling gaps in services to migrants that governments and other civil society groups are incapable or unwilling to fill on their own, he said. Auza said six of the nine agencies that assist the U.S. State Department in resettling refugees in 190 communities throughout the U.S. are faith-based organizations. They are motivated by faith but granted resettlement responsibilities by the government because of their proven effectiveness, he said. Speakers at the interreligious event described shared religious and ethical beliefs that inspire faith-based organizations to champion the rights of migrants and encourage good behavior by displaced people and the communities that host them. They pointed to the experiences of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and the prophet Muhammad as examples of forced migration. “Migration is about human persons,” said Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and president of Caritas Internationalis. “I have observed that some people who are afraid of migrants or refugees have had very little personal encounter with them. They do not even know the people they fear. By meeting them, touching their wounds, listening to their stories and dreams, we might see ourselves in them. They are not strangers. They could be me, my parents, my brothers and sisters, my friend,” he said. Tagle described his Chinese grandfather’s migration to the Philippines as a child. “I have migrant DNA. I am sure you do too,” he said. Pope Francis has called “for a culture of personal encounter with migrants, refugees and people excluded by contemporary society,” Tagle said. They should be offered safety, welcome, protection, promotion of their integral human development, and integration into society, according to Francis’s guiding principles, he said. Rabbi David Rosen, director of the American Jewish Committee, said the Bible specifically commands people “to love and empathize with others who seek to dwell within our community.” Although societies have a duty to protect their own citizens, they must also enable safe and secure passage for those on the move and ensure a decent living and social conditions for refugees and migrants, he said. People do not leave their homes for pleasure. They do so because they are forced by circumstances, according to Mohammed Abu Zaid, senior judge of the Sunni Family Court of Saida, Lebanon. In the Islamic tradition, the migrant is required to respect and cooperate with the host community and not challenge it, he said. The hosts, even if poor, are bound to share with migrants. Gijun Sugitani said global networks connect religious leaders in countries of origin and countries of destination. They should be used for the protection of refugees and the promotion of interfaith dialogue to ease frictions caused by cultural and religious differences between refugees’ homelands and their new homes. Sugitani is supreme advisor to the Tendai Buddhism sect and chairman of Religions for Peace Japan. Faith-based organizations can foster better inclusion of migrants through language courses, local contacts, and mediation, said Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis of France. “Interfaith dialogue should contribute to a better understanding of the other, by rehumanizing the other and thus promoting human dignity and freedom,” he said. “We cannot separate our concern for human dignity, human rights or social justice from our concern for peace and sustainability,” Emmanuel said. “The great religious traditions all emphasize the dignity of each perso
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07-05-2018
How to fulfil the promise of the Global Compact for Migration with a more effective roadmap in human rights protection
About the author Pia Oberoi is Advisor on Migration and Human Rights to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This article was written in her personal capacity and the views expressed therein do not necessarily represent the views of the United Nations. We must ensure the human rights of migrants who fall outside the refugee definition, with a real danger of these individuals falling in the growing gap between the two Compacts. Migration is not just a phenomenon or a ‘mega-trend’, nor merely a means to achieve development or alleviate demographic pressures, although these goals are laudable. At its heart, migration is fundamentally about people, individual human beings. And even a cursory glance at migratory routes and communities around the world reveals the human cost of migration today. Of course, many migrants are able to move in safety and dignity, truly able to benefit and contribute in the prized (albeit often mythical) ‘win-win-win’ scenario. Yet millions more are compelled to move in unsafe, irregular and (necessarily) disorderly ways, often leaving their homes because that is the only way they see to survive, and subject to human rights violations in transit and at destination. No one counts them, so for these migrants we do not have an equivalent of the infamous figure of 65 million forcibly displaced persons. Their vulnerability can be difficult to articulate and often remains uncategorised, so they live clandestine lives in the shadows constantly at risk of further abuse. Migrants who fall outside the refugee definition The understanding of who is a ‘migrant’ is contested. The UN Human Rights Office, in recognition of the lack of a universal legal definition has described the category as an umbrella term for those people who cross international borders and lack a citizenship attachment to their country of destination. For the purposes of this article, however, and in keeping with the logic of the Global Compact for safe, regular and orderly migration (GCM) which applies only to ‘non-refugees’ in order to mark a difference with the Global Compact on Refugees, this article is directed only to those people who would not meet the definition of a refugee within the 1951 Refugee Convention. Arguably, the foremost contribution of the GCM lies in its recognition that people must be at its centre, and accordingly in its promise to alleviate the risks and vulnerabilities that migrants face by respecting, protecting and fulfilling their human rights. Protection of human rights also runs as a central thread through the New York Declaration, in which Member States of the United Nations pledged to combat with all the means at their disposal the abuses and exploitation suffered by countless refugees and migrants in vulnerable situations (emphasis added). The predicament of migrants in vulnerable situations, especially in the context of so-called ‘mixed movements’, often makes them, in reality, undistinguishable on the ground from refugees. ‘Mixed’ migration could be described as the cross-border movement of people who have a variety of protection profiles, reasons for moving and needs but who move along the same routes, use the same forms of transport or means of travel, and often travel irregularly. There is a compelling need to address critical gaps in ensuring the human rights of migrants who fall outside the refugee definition. In this respect there is a real danger of these individuals falling into the growing space that is opening up between the two Compacts. The rationale for enhanced attention to this group is provided both by the desperate circumstances of such migrants, as well as the imperative of the human rights framework to shine most light on those people in our societies who are marginalized, at risk of abuse, and in danger of being “left behind”. Migrants in vulnerable situations These migrants are people who could be leaving their countries out of necessity, rather than free choice, and for some of whom return is neither desirable nor feasible. Some move to escape adverse drivers such as poverty, food insecurity, denial of the right to health or access to justice, or the effects of climate change and environmental factors, or indeed a combination of these factors. Migrants who may have started their journeys whole and healthy can arrive at their destination having suffered profound trauma and abuse. Mig
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07-05-2018
Sushma Swaraj chairs interactive session with chief ministers of NE states on 'Act East Policy'
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday chaired an interactive session on the Act East Policy with the Chief Ministers of the north-eastern states. Chief Ministers of Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, and Tripura Lal Thanhawla, Pema Khandu, Neiphiu Rio, Pawan Kumar Chamling, Sarbananda Sonowal, N. Biren Singh, Conrad Sangma and Biplab Kumar Deb respectively took part in the session. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar took to his Twitter account to inform about the meeting of Swaraj with the ministers prior to the interactive session."Involving all stakeholders in policy making! EAM @SushmaSwaraj with Chief Ministers and representatives of eight North Eastern States before chairing an interactive session on 'Act East Policy'.", Kumar tweeted. The Chief Ministers will be accompanied by senior officials from the States who deal with policy issues related to the subject. As per a Press Information Bureau release, India's Act East Policy focuses on the extended neighbourhood in the Asia-Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. Further, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a press release on Thursday, "Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, Niti Aayog and Gen(Dr) VK Singh (Retd), Minister of State for External Affairs. Foreign Secretary, Secretary(East) from the Ministry of External Affairs as well as Secretaries from the Ministry of DoNER, Tourism and North Eastern Council will also participate in the discussions." The North East region of India including Arunachal Pradesh has been a priority in the Act East Policy.
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07-05-2018
Highly skilled South Asian migrants say they are UK’s new Windrush scandal
Twenty-three thousand people have signed a petition calling for an end to the “hostile environment” for immigrants. The UK Home Office claims that any refusals are a direct result of discrepancies in the tax data quoted by applicants. Hundreds of South Asian highly skilled migrants held a protest outside the UK Parliament on Wednesday, claiming they are victims of the next Windrush scandal. The reference was to a political scandal over the immigration status of the Windrush generation — British African Caribbean people resident in the UK. The 400-strong mix of professionals, ranging from IT consultants to mental health nurses, mainly Indians and Pakistanis, were protesting against long delays in decisions on their applications for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK as well having their applications turned down under Section 322 (5) of the UK immigration rules which branded them as “threats to national security” because of mistakes on their tax returns. Twenty-three thousand people have signed a petition, organised by the protesters, addressed to UK home secretary Sajid Javid, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn, calling for an end to the “hostile environment” for immigrants. In the pouring rain, some with babies in rainproof-covered pushchairs, they said they did not want to return to their home countries as they had stayed in the UK such a long time they were more familiar with the way of life and jobs market here. They also said the grounds for refusal was “defamation of character” and would prevent them getting a visa to travel to any country in the future. Carrying a placard saying “Tax correction is not a crime”, a man chanted “This is….” and the crowd replied “Windrush II”, followed by “What do we want?” “Justice.” “I think it’s the same as the Windrush scandal”, said Hari Babu, 31, from Kochi, Kerala. Babu lost his job as a global recruitment manager at menswear fashion brand Thomas Pink after his ILR was refused last year on the grounds that he had not declared the correct amount of income on a previous tax return when he had run his own recruitment consultancy. “They said I had underdeclared my income to avoid paying tax,” he said. And for that, he was refused under the clause Section 322 (5), which is normally used for criminals and terrorists. “I feel like this country has failed me. I was a higher rate taxpayer, I took zero benefits. I have never even been to hospital. They are exploiting a loophole to meet deportation targets. Windrush is just the tip of the iceberg. There are huge issues going on with the home office,” he said. None of the protesters TOI spoke to had faith that the newly appointed home secretary, Pakistani-origin Sajid Javid, would change things. “I hope that Sajid understands our pain as he was also an immigrant, but then he is part of Theresa May’s government so I don’t have that much hope,” Babu said. “It is similar to Windrush as we have also been here a long time and are doing everything right. Just because of one small technical error on our tax returns the home office cannot say we are a threat to national security. None of us are threats,” said Ashish Balajigari, 31, from Hyderabad. He is the first highly skilled migrant to have been refused under Section 322 (5) to have his case heard in the high court. It will be heard in June alongside that of a Pakistani man. Since 2011 he has been working on a tier 1 visa as an airside unit manager at Heathrow airport and running a catering business but he lost his job after his ILR was rejected. “If the HC find in my favour then it will set a new precedent for all future and pending ILR applications,” he said. The group of highly skilled migrants has raised £40,000 towards his legal fees. “I have got used to my daily life here, plus I have not worked for two years. No one is going to give me a job back in India,” he added. London NGO Migrants’ Rights Network plans to intervene in the high court case as a third party to demonstrate the level of public interest and that there are many other similar cases, protest organiser Aditi Bhardwaj, 32, from Delhi, said. On the way to the protest, Bangaladeshi Kawsar Murad’s phone did not stop ringing with agencies offering her mental health care work. But she cannot accept as she too is not allowed to work. Last year, after a 15-month wait, her applicati
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07-05-2018
Policy draft suggests full social security, Rs 9000 base wage for domestic helps
The law will enable the central government to set benchmark minimum wages for different regions across the country. Domestic workers across the country could perhaps expect acche din in the near future as the labour ministry is pushing for a national policy for setting fair employment terms, minimum wages, protection and social security for them. According to the draft, a Central board would be set up where domestic helps can get themselves enrolled and get paid depending on the job they do.The policy, if implemented, would benefit a total of five million workers across the country, of which three million are women. According to ministry officials, the policy’s USP would be ensuring domestic workers get all social security benefits. “To do so, domestic workers would be designated as workers, which would help them register under the state labour department,” the official added. The ministry also plans to clearly differentiate and define part-time, full time and live-in workers. The benefits that the workers would be entitled to, include maternity leave, pensions, health insurance, etc. “Also, we are planning to fix the minimum wage at `9,000 per month and also clearly define periods of work and rest. In simple terms, domestic help will also have a normal working week like most other employees across the country,” the official said. Fair terms on minimum wages ■ Draft suggests clear definition of part-time, full-time and live-in workers ■ Setting up institutions like a Central board to ensure social security and payment of wages to registered workers ■ Recognising them as regular workers to enable registeration under state labour departments ■ Allowing them to form formal unions or associations ■ Skill development programmes for registered workers ■ Fair terms with regard to minimum wages (`9,000 per month), protection from abuse, access to maternity benefits, pension, health insurance, etc ■ Model contract defining periods of work and rest ■ Recruitment and placement through governments via agencies ■ Implementation committees at Central, state and district levels
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07-05-2018
India Needs to Look Beyond the Debate on Regular and 'Irregular' Migrants
The country, being the highest remittance receiver of the world, should seize the opportunity offered by negotiations at the UN Global Compact on Migration and take a more humane approach. “What is an illegal or a legal migrant? A human being is a human being. How can we stop extending help to an Indian stranded in a foreign country for no fault of his. Isn’t it a crime? How can an embassy withdraw itself from extending helping or delay the same?” These were the words of Sarwan Singh, the younger brother of Nishan Singh, who was killed in Iraq along with 39 others reportedly in 2017. “On June 1, 2015, my brother told me over the phone that they had informed the Indian embassy in Baghdad that they were in trouble in Mosul and needed to be rescued,” Sarwan said, adding that instead of extending help, the embassy officials reportedly started blaming the stranded workers. “The embassy officials asked my brother and his friends whether they had sought permission before migrating to Iraq,” said Sarwan, a resident of Sangoana village in Amritsar district. “On June 21, he (Nishan) made a last call saying that nobody from the embassy was helping them,” Sarwan said. Nishan and 39 others were abducted by Islamic State (IS) terrorists near Mosul in Iraq in 2014. Luckily, one of them managed to escape captivity while the fate of the others was unclear till last month when Sushma Swaraj, the minister of external affairs, announced in Parliament that all of them were dead. The bodies of 38 workers, including Nishan’s, were brought to India in April. One body was left behind as a complete DNA match had not been done in the case. When the bodies were brought to India from Iraq, V.K Singh, minister of state of external affairs, said that the government couldn’t do much as the workers were illegal migrants. “It is a fact that they (the workers) went there (Iraq) through an illegal agent,” the minister said. Referring to a group of 46 nurses from Kerala who were rescued by India in 2014 from the clutches of the Islamic State, the minister said that was possible only because the country had a record of them. “I want all Indians to go abroad legally. Besides, they should go safely and with proper training”, he said, adding, that “as far as illegal travel agents are concerned, state governments are responsible for law and order, and should arrest such agents and take legal action against them”. The Minister’s statement did not go down well with the relatives of the deceased workers. Sarwan believes that if the Indian embassy had the will and looked upon his brother and his friends as Indian citizens, they could have saved them. “He (Nishan) became ‘illegal’ for the Indian government only because he went through a sub-agent. He had paid Rs 160,000 in 2014 to an agent in Punjab to secure a job in Iraq. He went for work. He has been tagged as ‘illegal’ for no fault of his,” he said. Knowingly or unknowingly, the junior minister ‘revealed’ the government’s stand on the ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ status of migrants. His response clearly exposed the government’s stance that they were ‘annoyed’ by Indians taking irregular pathways for migration, completely disregarding the fact that these migrants don’t do so deliberately, their economic and social conditions force them to. Nobody voluntarily or knowingly prefers to take an irregular path for migration. It is the drivers of migration, such as poverty, climate change, loss of livelihood, political tension and lack of knowledge about regular migration pathways that most often turn a person into becoming an ‘irregular migrant’ . Even though the Indian government has a list of registered agents as also an official online eMigrate recruitment channel in place since mid-2015, yet a majority of potential migrants go through unregistered sub-agents. In most cases, an unregistered sub-agent can even be a relative or friend whom the potential migrant is ‘close’ to and trusts. Additionally, even if a person is a regular migrant while entering a foreign country, he/she can become ‘irregular’ due to various reasons. For instance, the chances of a regular migrant to become an ‘irregular’ one in the Gulf are quite high if the exploitative Kafala (sponsorship) system, the bonded labour system, exists in the host country. The other reasons that push people to becoming ‘irre
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01-05-2018
UAE residents warned: Up to Dh1 million fine if you do this
If you read something online or receive some information which you think is false, don’t post it on Facebook or pass it on to your friends on WhatsApp. Otherwise, you run the risk of paying a hefty penalty, and the fine can reach up to Dh1 million, The Telecommunications and Regulatory Authority (TRA) reiterated this week a warning against sharing fake information in social media, citing that the act is punishable by law. “Remember that not everything you read on social media is true, some are just rumours that can cause harm to others or to the state,” the TRA said in a notice posted on Twitter. “We ask you to always verify the source and to use the official accounts of the government to verify the news.” The TRA highlighted a provision of the UAE’s anti-cybercrime law that seeks to penalise violators with an imprisonment or fine of up to Dh1 million. “Don’t spread unverified news. Let it stop with you,” the TRA said on Sunday. According to lawyer Michael Barney Almazar, Article 29 of Federal Law No 5 of 2012 penalises those proven guilty of sharing “information, news, statements or rumours” that are damaging to the “reputation” of the state or any of its institutions. Covered by the law are messages or posts spread by electronic means, through email, SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook or any other online platform or information technology tool. The law also does not only penalize fake news. Even if the information posted online is true, the person sharing it can still be held liable if someone else’s privacy has been violated. “Also, in Article 21 (3), even if it is true and correct, the publisher may still be liable if it violates the privacy of the person subject of the news, Almazar, who is the director at the corporate-commercial department of Gulf Law, added. The degree of penalty, however, will depend on the type of information being shared, with the maximum fine set at Dh1 million.
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01-05-2018
Kuwait rejects breach of laws, but ready to work with Manila
Duterte says Kuwait work ban for Filipinos ‘permanent’. Kuwait rejects any breach against its sovereignty or laws and will act decisively against any relevant attempt, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah affirmed yesterday in reference to a diplomatic row with Manila. Jarallah, reacting to remarks by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday, said Kuwait was ready to cooperate with Manila to explore all means to address labor issues, including 800 Filipino citizens who are currently in shelters. Duterte yesterday said the temporary ban on Filipinos going to work in Kuwait is now permanent, intensifying the diplomatic standoff over the treatment of migrant workers in the state. Duterte in February prohibited workers heading to Kuwait following the murder of a Filipina maid whose body was found stuffed in her employer’s freezer. The resulting row deepened after Kuwaiti authorities last week ordered Manila’s envoy to leave the country over videos of Philippine embassy staff helping workers in Kuwait flee allegedly abusive employers. The two nations had been negotiating a labor deal that Philippine officials said could result in the lifting of the temporary ban but the recent escalation in tensions has put an agreement in doubt. “The ban stays permanently. There will be no more recruitment for especially domestic helpers. No more,” Duterte told reporters in his hometown in the southern city of Davao. Speaking after a meeting held by Kuwaiti authorities yesterday regarding the row, Jarallah said Kuwait is keen on maintaining the safety and rights of all expatriates including the Filipino community within the labor laws of the country, which have been praised by international human rights agencies. He appreciated the contributions of Filipinos, who are working in different sectors. Jarallah said Kuwait shared Duterte’s desire to maintain deeply-rooted relations, citing Manila’s support of Kuwait during the 1990-91 Iraqi invasion. He said “the historic friendship” between the two countries “could help overcome this exceptional circumstance”. Jarallah said Kuwait was looking forward to working with the Philippines to honoring mutual interest. Around 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, nearly 60 percent of them domestic workers, according to the Philippines’ foreign ministry. Last week the Philippines apologized over the rescue videos but Kuwaiti officials announced they were expelling Manila’s ambassador and recalling their own envoy from the Southeast Asian nation. Kuwait also detained four Filipinos hired by the Philippine embassy and issued arrest warrants against three diplomatic personnel, Manila said. The Philippines’ ambassador Renato Pedro Villa told AFP on Saturday he will leave Kuwait on Wednesday, adding that he refused to comply with Kuwaiti demands for the names of staffers suspected of being involved in the rescues. Duterte yesterday described the treatment of workers in Kuwait as a “calamity”. He said he would bring home Filipina maids who suffered abuse as he appealed to workers who wanted to stay in the state. “I would like to address to their patriotism: come home. No matter how poor we are, we will survive. The economy is doing good and we are short of our workers,” he said. About 10 million Filipinos work abroad, seeking high-paying jobs they are unable to find at home, and their remittances are a major pillar of the Philippine economy. The Philippine government has for decades hailed overseas workers as modern heroes but advocacy groups have highlighted the social cost of migration, tearing families apart and making Filipinos vulnerable to abuse. Duterte lashed out at Kuwait in February, alleging employers routinely rape Filipina workers, force them to work 21 hours a day and feed them scraps. However after the latest row, Duterte used a conciliatory tone as he addressed the “diplomatic ruckus” on Saturday. “Apparently it seems as if they have anger against Filipinos… I do not want to send (workers) because apparently you do not like Filipinos,” he said in a speech before Filipinos in Singapore. “Just do not hurt them. I plead that they’d be given a treatment deserving of a human being,” he said in the same event. Duterte said workers returning from Kuwait could find employment as English teachers in China, citing improved ties with Beijing. Describing China as a “true friend”, he said he would use Chinese aid to
news
01-05-2018
The business of domestic workers in Kuwait
In Kuwait, where the total population just crossed 4.5 million, there is a record 677,000 people employed as domestic workers, accounting for nearly a quarter of the country’s total workforce of 2.73 million. From a household perspective, that is one domestic helper for every 3.5 members in a household. Indians top the list of domestic helpers with 291,000 persons, followed by the Philippines providing 163,000 domestic personnel. Together, these two countries account for over two-thirds of all domestic helpers in Kuwait. Other countries with significant number of domestic workers in Kuwait include, Bangladesh (81,000), Sri Lanka (67,000), and Nepal (24,000). Households in Kuwait are estimated to have spent a little over KD 1 billion on their domestic workers last year, or roughly around 5 percent of the government’s total expenditure of KD 18.5 billion, or nearly 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product of more than KD 91 billion, in 2017. In addition to this the government spends millions on subsidy for domestic workers in the form of free health, subsidized food, water, electricity and fuel usage by domestic labour. Further there is also a portion of domestic workers who enter the mainstream labour market and do not enjoy the rights and privileges the labour force in the country is entitled to in terms of lower salaries and end of service benefits. The one billion dinars spent on domestic helpers might sound generous at first hearing, but this works out to less than KD 125 spent on each domestic helper per month. This monthly outlay includes the cost of airfare to and from their home country, expenditure on food, clothes, telecommunication and other sundry expenses; leaving only whatever balance remains as monthly salary of the employee. Domestic services have become an integral part of Kuwait’s economy with hundreds of offices and employees working in the domestic labor supply business. Based on an average recruitment cost of KD 1,000 per worker, the 677,000 workers in the country cost an estimated KD 700 million. An estimated 15,000 domestic workers are added each year at total recruitment cost of about KD 15 million. Authorities believe that the number of domestic workers in the country could rise to 700,000 by end of the year. Demand for domestic workers is likely to increase in the coming weeks, as household work tends to increase during the holy month of Ramadan. The increase in demand has already led to a hike in recruitment charges by manpower agencies. Interestingly, in a probable reflection of prevailing social attitudes, there is an evident ethnic bias in domestic worker preference by employers. Fair-skinned Filipino and Nepalese workers cost about KD 1,300 to recruit, while darker-skinned nationals cost less to hire. On the economic front, domestic workers contribute to the economic growth and development of the country. Though probably less than other residents in the country, domestic workers provide a significant fillip to activities at money remittance companies, telecommunication companies, retailers, travel agencies and airlines. Many domestic workers send whatever they can save from their monthly earning to support their families back home and thereby adding to the monthly remittance flow to their countries. They also travel to their country of origin, at least every two or three years, providing a boost to the airline and travel industry, as well as to retailers. Telecommunications companies also gain a windfall from the regular communication between workers and their loved ones back home However, probably the greatest contribution of domestic workers to the economy, and to society in general, is the opportunity cost they provide for their employers. Without a maid at home to cook, look after the children or the elderly, many households where both parents pursue professional careers or are otherwise gainfully employed, would find their life, as well as economic and creative productivity severely stymied. Think about that, the next time you hand your domestic helper their monthly salary.
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01-05-2018
Philippines’ Duterte calls Kuwait work ban ‘permanent’
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said the temporary ban on Filipinos going to work in Kuwait is now permanent, intensifying a diplomatic standoff over the treatment of migrant workers in the Gulf nation. Duterte in February imposed a prohibition on workers heading to Kuwait following the murder of a Filipino maid whose body was found stuffed in a freezer in the Gulf state. The crisis deepened after Kuwaiti authorities last week ordered Manila’s envoy to leave the country over videos of Philippine embassy staff helping workers in Kuwait flee allegedly abusive employers. The two nations had been negotiating a labor deal that Philippine officials said could result in the lifting of the ban but the recent escalation in tensions has put an agreement in doubt. “The ban stays permanently. There will be no more recruitment for especially domestic helpers. No more,” Duterte told reporters in his hometown in the southern city of Davao. There was no immediate response from Kuwait, where around 262,000 Filipinos are employed — nearly 60 percent of them as domestic workers, according to the Philippines’ foreign department. Last week the Philippines apologized over the rescue videos but Kuwaiti officials announced they were expelling Manila’s ambassador and recalling their own envoy from the Southeast Asian nation. Kuwait also detained four Filipinos hired by the Philippine embassy and issued arrest warrants against three diplomatic personnel, Manila said. Duterte on Sunday described the treatment of workers in Kuwait as a “calamity.” He said he would bring home Filipino maids who suffered abuse as he appealed to workers who wanted to stay in the oil-rich state. “I would like to address to their patriotism: come home. No matter how poor we are, we will survive. The economy is doing good and we are short of our workers,” he said. About 10 million Filipinos work abroad, seeking high-paying jobs they are unable to find at home, and their remittances are a major pillar of the Philippine economy. The Philippine government has for decades hailed overseas workers as modern heroes but advocacy groups have highlighted the social cost of migration, tearing families apart and making Filipinos vulnerable to abuse. Duterte lashed out at Kuwait in February, alleging Arab employers routinely rape Filipino workers, force them to work 21 hours a day and feed them scraps. However after the latest row, Duterte used a conciliatory tone as he addressed the “diplomatic ruckus” on Saturday. “Apparently it seems as if they have anger against Filipinos ... I do not want to send (workers) because apparently you do not like Filipinos,” he said in a speech before Filipinos in Singapore. “Just do not hurt them. I plead that they’d be given a treatment deserving of a human being,” he said in the same event. Duterte said workers returning from Kuwait could find employment as English teachers in China, citing improved ties with Beijing. Describing China as a “true friend,” he said he would use Chinese aid to fund the workers’ repatriation. Duterte added he was not after “vengeance.” “I’d address myself to the Kuwait government and the people: Thank you for helping my countrymen all these years. It is a debt of gratitude that after all you were able to help. So I have no anger, no hatred,” he said.
news
01-05-2018
Qatar to abolish controversial exit system for workers: Experts
Qatar could agree a deal within a fortnight to abolish its controversial exit visa system, which requires workers to obtain their employers' permission to leave the country, labour experts said on Sunday. The possibility of a landmark deal came as the International Labour Organization opened an office in Doha on Sunday, part of an agreement under which the United Nations agency will oversee wholesale labour reform by the 2022 World Cup host. "We are looking now about the final details of the exit visa, we expect a deal within the next two weeks," said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation and a once-vocal critic of Qatar's labor laws. Other sources with knowledge of negotiations on the issue confirmed a deal was expected to be announced soon. The exit visa system has long been savaged by critics of Qatar's labor practices as a prime example of the Gulf state's exploitation of its vast migrant workforce, which numbers some two million. Qatar, under increased pressure since it won the right to host the World Cup, has pledged to reform the system. Labor minister Issa Saad al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi, who cut a ribbon at the opening of the ILO office, said the inauguration was "another step towards ensuring Qatar has a labour system that reflects global best practice". "The Government of Qatar now has another partner to promote and protect the rights of our guest workers," he said. A deal to establish an ILO office in Qatar was made last October after Doha agreed to a wholesale package of labour reforms which also included introducing a minimum wage and a grievance procedure for workers. Doha and the ILO have signed a three-year programme of technical cooperation on labor issues.
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30-04-2018
‘Contribution of Keralites vital to UAE economy’
The contributions of Keralites are vital for the UAE economy, said Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister for Tolerance, on Saturday. The contributions of Keralites are vital for the UAE economy, said Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister for Tolerance, on Saturday. "Though people from 200 nations work in our country, Keralites stand out with their tolerance, entrepreneurship, intelligence, knowledge, skill and hardwork. They are quick to smile and exhibit joyful spirit. They contribute immensely to the development of the UAE," he said while speaking at the inaugural function of LuLu International Convention Centre here. Bahrain Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Abdulla al Khalifa said the bilateral relationship of Bahrain and India are based on deep understanding and respect. "Bahrain and Kerala share a long standing partnership and friendship. The role played by the people of India in general and Keralites in particular for the development of Bahrain is appreciable," he said. Union Minister for Tourism Alphons Kannanthanam said there has been a steep rise in tourist arrival in India recently. The number of foreign tourists' arrival crossed the 10-million mark last year. While the global tourism sector grew by 5 per cent in 2017, India witnessed a growth of 15.2 per cent. The income from tourism sector stood at $27 billion, which is equivalent to `1.80 lakh crore, he said. Appreciating the initiative to establish a world-class convention centre in Kochi, Kannanthanam said India needs hundreds of such convention centres and hotels. Former chief ministers V S Achuthanandan and Oommen Chandy, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, Ministers Kadakampally Surendran and V S Sunil Kumar, BJP spokesperson Shanavas Hussain, Karnataka minister D K Sivakumar, MPs PK Kunhalikutty, K V Thomas and Jose K Mani, Kerala Congress leader K M Mani, S Sarma MLA and others participated. Actors Mammootty and Mohanlal also attended the inaugural ceremony. Later, Mohanlal celebrated his wedding anniversary along with his family at Hotel Hyatt.
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30-04-2018
Proposed national policy for domestic workers could hurt their interests instead of serving these
There is no doubt that domestic workers need greater protection against trafficking and abuse—often, at the hands of employers—as well as social security. There is no doubt that domestic workers need greater protection against trafficking and abuse—often, at the hands of employers—as well as social security. But the government’s plan to bring a national policy is not the way to achieve this. As per The Economic Times, a central board is to be set up, and all domestic workers and employers have to get registered with it. The board will not only define part-time, full-time or live-in work, but will also set a wage-slab—slab rates will be fixed as per the quantum and nature of work. The policy also talks about facilitating organisation of domestic workers as well as ensuring social security “which may include contribution from the employer/worker”. Also, payments to workers will be routed through the board. The policy is flawed on several counts. Apart from the needlessly complicated routing of payment, it ignores the fact that the wages are determined by many factors—apart from nature and quantum of work, location (wages differ between periurban areas, small cities and metros, and even within a metro or a city, these vary with locality), skills, etc, matter. So, the “equal pay for equal work” principle the policy espouses could bring down the chances of employment of a worker in an area where the median wage is low, if the slab rates are fixed towards the higher end of the current wage-range. Conversely, if they are fixed towards the lower end, a worker who works in a higher-median wage area will have to work more to compensate for the shortfall. If the board settles for a generalised increase—foreseeable given the “employer contributions” talk—it will leave domestic workers vulnerable to labour substitution. It will also hit low-skilled workers the hardest as employers would want to hire workers with some assurance of skill to get their money’s worth. Also, mandatory social security contributions are an unfair imposition at the lower end of the wage spectrum as they drastically cut the “in-hand” income. The government should foot the social security bill in such a scenario. And as for allowing unionisation, its impact is well-known—thanks to unions’ harassment, many formal sector companies have moved towards hiring more contract-workers in recent years.
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30-04-2018
Three Indian fishermen tortured in Lankan prison, says TN MLA
The Indian embassy in Colombo has said that they are working on repatriating the fishermen, who have been languishing at a detention camp for four months. A member of the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly and activists are alleging that three Indian fishermen were subjected to third-degree torture by the Sri Lankan police and have been languishing at a detention camp for the last four months. Vasanthakumar H, an MLA from the Nanguneri constituency in southern Tamil Nadu told The News Minute that the three fishermen, Xavier, Kingkistan and R Madhan, had set sail from Ramanathapuram and were in severe distress because the Lankan police tortured them with sharp metal objects. “What I came to know is unbelievable,” Vasanthakumar says, “The Indian government should act without any delay.” The MLA has also written to the Indian and Lankan governments, in which he has detailed the nature of the custodial torture. According to human rights activist and lawyer Hubertson Tomwillson of National Domestic Workers Movement in Chennai, the three fishermen had gone to sea in a small wooden boat from the waters of Ramanathapuram on January 15, 2018. “Unfortunately, two days later, the Sri Lankan coast guard took the fishermen into custody and handed them over to the Thalvupadu Coastal Police Station in Mannar,” the lawyer says, adding that it is at the police station that the fishermen were subjected to third degree torture. “The fishermen were bleeding,” the activist adds. A day after the torture, they were taken to a court and then sent to the Vavuniya Prison, he says. After two months, on March 23, the three fishermen were released from the prison and transported to one prison after another over several days, the activist claims. All the three men are now sheltered in the Mirhina Detention Camp. An official from the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka said that they are looking into the incident. Sujeewa Lal Dahanayake, the Lankan National Coordinator of Lawyers Beyond Borders, says that they will take the mater up with the Sri Lankan police and the Registrar of the Magistrate's Courts to obtain more information, and thereafter reach out to relevant authorities to see what action can be taken. Meanwhile, responding to Indian MLA's letter, the Indian embassy in Colombo replied that the Department of Immigration and Emigration of the government of Sri Lanka had informed them last week about the detention of the three Indian nationals. "As they were not in possession of any identity documents, we have been making efforts to contact their family members for ascertaining their details. The Mission is issuing them with Emergency Certificates to ensure their repatriation. We are also ascertaining the details about allegations of torture as these complaints were not informed either to us or our Consulate in Jaffna," the letter added. Indian fishermen have been known to cross the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) between India and Sri Lanka, intentionally or otherwise, for fishing. Crossing the IMBL poses a major risk to Indian fishermen as Sri Lanka has amended its Foreign Fisheries Boats Regulation Act to increase the fine on Indian vessels found fishing in Sri Lankan waters to a minimum of LKR 6 million (about Rs. 25 lakh) and a maximum of LKR 175 million (about Rs. 7.2 crore). Indian boats have been fishing in the troubled waters for centuries and had a free run of the Bay of Bengal, the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar until 1974 and 1976 when treaties were signed between the two countries to demarcate the maritime boundary — the IMBL. However, the treaties failed to factor in the hardship of thousands of traditional fishermen who were forced to restrict themselves to a smaller fishing area. Fishermen often risk their lives and cross the IMBL rather than return empty-handed, but the Sri Lankan Navy is on alert, and is known to respond by detaining fishermen and destroying their fishing equipment.
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27-04-2018
Migrant rights need of the hour: Activists
MFA demanded the right to vote for migrant workers. Being the country to send the highest number of migrants to different countries, it should build a coalition of the sending countries in order to safeguard the rights of millions of migrants. With the making of Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in progress, Migrant Rights Activists have demanded that India play an active role at a global level. Being the country to send the highest number of migrants to different countries, it should build a coalition of the sending countries in order to safeguard the rights of millions of migrants. Though India is the highest remittance receiver in the world and was the third highest migrant hosting country in 2017, it has been very casual in its engagement on international migration at the global level, feel migrant activists. Speaking at the South Indian Consultation on the Global Compact on Migration (GCM) organised in the city by Migrants Forum in Asia (MFA), the activists pressed for a need to include international labour standards in the pact and especially the fundamental principles and rights of migrant workers at their workplaces.
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27-04-2018
Kuwait expels Filipino envoy, recalls ambassador to Manila
MPs hail foreign ministry for upholding nation’s sovereignty, laws, dignity. Kuwait yesterday ordered the Philippines ambassador to leave within a week and recalled its own envoy for consultations after embassy staff tried to “rescue” Filipino domestic workers amid reports of abuse. An official at Kuwait’s foreign ministry said Philippine Ambassador Renato Pedro Villa had been summoned to be informed of his expulsion. The decision was the latest episode in a three-month crisis sparked by reports that abuse by employers had driven several Filipinos to suicide. The Philippines had apologized on Tuesday for what Kuwait viewed as a “flagrant” violation of its sovereignty, with the Philippine foreign secretary saying the embassy was forced to “assist” Filipino workers who sought help as some situations were a matter of life and death. The Kuwaiti foreign ministry deemed such illegal acts as a blatant violation of Kuwaiti law and international covenants and charters and tantamount to intervention in the state’s domestic affairs and meddling in jurisdictions of the security apparatuses, it said in a statement. These acts also constitute a flagrant violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, namely Provision 41 that bars infringement on individuals’ prerogatives and immunities, respecting states’ laws and non-intervention in their local affairs. The ministry statement noted that Philippine officials stated that the foreign ministry of the Asian nation dispatched “reinforcements to the embassy in Kuwait; comprised of seven teams affiliated with the foreign undersecretary for labor and immigration on the pretext of rescuing female housemaids in Kuwait”. “The Kuwaiti government affirms that such acts and statements constitute explicit breach of international principles and covenants,” the official statement said. These acts had prompted the Kuwaiti foreign ministry to summon the Philippine ambassador twice, lodging with him complaints expressing Kuwait’s extreme dismay and denunciation of such dangerous transgressions. It added it had given the ambassador three days to provide the names of Filipino residents in Kuwait who had “kidnapped” domestic workers from their employers’ homes, but it had yet to receive a response from the embassy. Kuwaiti security forces “will continue to chase down those who violated the security of the country” and put them on trial, the statement said. “Therefore, the ministry of foreign affairs has decided to consider the Philippine ambassador to Kuwait persona non-grata according to Provision 9 of the Vienna Convention, thus he must leave the country in a maximum of one week. Secondly, the department is calling back the Kuwaiti ambassador to the Philippines for consultations,” it said. Three Filipinos who drove vans for the embassy in the operations are believed to be held by Kuwaiti authorities. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, declined to comment on the Kuwaiti decision. The Kuwaiti foreign ministry also affirmed the “determination to move from this extraordinary situation toward wider horizons of solid and joint relations as part of the historic and deep-rooted ties between the two countries”. Furthermore, it emphasized the necessity of tackling the issue “with wisdom and prudence, without any negative and harmful media sensationalism for sake of attaining the common aspiration towards distinctive and sound bilateral relations between the two friendly countries”. Kuwait and the Philippines established diplomatic relations in 1979. Lawmakers, activists rejoice Meanwhile, lawmakers yesterday hailed as adequate and appropriate the decision of the foreign ministry. Opposition MP Shuaib Al-Muwaizri described the decision a “step in the right direction”, adding the foreign ministry should have taken such action after Duterte issued threats to Kuwait several weeks ago. He urged the foreign ministry to reject any labor agreement or preconditions made by the Philippine president or his foreign minister. MP Ali Al-Deqbasi said the expulsion of the Philippine ambassador is the correct action and is a manifestation of Kuwaiti public opinion. He said the decision is an effective response to the breach of Kuwaiti laws by the embassy staff and against the lies and fabrications by the Philippine media against Kuwait. MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari said the expulsion is “a respectabl
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26-04-2018
Labour Ministry revives National Policy to increase domestic helps' wages
Employers of domestic helps could see their wage bills increase with the labour ministry reviving a national policy for setting equitable salaries and providing fair employment terms, protection and social security for workers. The ministry plans to set up a central board/trust where employers will register maids, drivers and all other household helps, who will be paid equally on the basis of the work they do. This is expected to end the bargaining power of both employers and employees. About 5 million domestic workers in the country, including 3 million women, will benefit from the move. As part of its efforts to protect domestic workers, the labour ministry has revived the national policy for all kinds of household helps, under which payment of wages will be made to the board under fixed slab rates and the central board/trust will be managed by all stakeholders, a senior government official told ET. All employers as well as domestic helps will have to register on the board and payment of salaries will be made through this board, similar to the Mathadi board model prevalent in Maharashtra. This will ensure that equal wages are paid for equal work, the official said, requesting anonymity. The Mathadi boards were set up to ensure fair wages were paid to workers carrying loads. The ministry has been working on a national policy for domestic workers over past three years but various propositions have been pulled down by employers who said they would significantly add to their monthly bills. The ministry is trying to push the policy forward this time because it is drafting a universal social security code that would cover even domestic workers, who are otherwise deprived of benefits such as medical insurance, pension, maternity and mandatory leave. The fresh policy will have to go through a series of stakeholder consultations before it takes final shape. Labour minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar said recently that the ministry aims to explicitly and effectively expand the scope of applicable legislation, policies and schemes to grant domestic workers rights that are enshrined in laws for other categories of workers. According to a notification issued by the labour ministry, the national policy for domestic workers would clearly define part-time, full-time and live-in workers, employers and private placement agencies. This would give workers the right to register themselves with the state labour departments. “The policy aims to promote right to fair terms of employment relating to minimum wages, protection from abuse/harassment and violence, access to social security benefits such as health insurance, maternity benefits and old age pensions as provided by the existing and upcoming schemes of central and state government, which may include contribution from employer/workers,” it said. Besides, an institutional mechanism will be put in place to provide social security cover and fair terms of employment for domestic workers, address their grievances and resolve disputes.
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26-04-2018
‘India should play active role at UN’
Telangana Gulf Workers Association President Nangi Devender Reddy asked Indian Government to play active role in The United Nations(UN)’s all members summit on migrations to be held at Morocco on 10 to 11 December. Addressing a press conference here on Monday, He said that they are going to conduct South India summit at Hyderabad on 26 April. National workers welfare trust chairperson Lisi Joseph, Migrants rights council coordinator Sajida Begum and others were present.
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26-04-2018
Migrants Missing from the Migration Discourse
The issue of regulating migration is being discussed at a time when xenophobia is rising at dangerous levels and human displacement is taking place at an unprecedented scale. Hence, there is an urgent need for a global commitment for fair migration and coherent rights based polices as demanded by the global unions of the workers and their families. Abducted by the terrorist group ISIS, dead bodies of 38 Indians arrived in Amritsar from Mosul, Iraq on April 1. As all the deceased were labourers who had migrated from the country for work,to some extent the tragedy has brought back the debate on the security of migrant workers in destination countries to the forefront other than attracting much condemnation from the Parliament.The role of the International agencies and the national governments to regulate migration is being discussed both by the countries of origin and of destination migration. But it is not just migration that needs deliberations but also the working conditions in the destination countries that requires intervention because it is for labur that more than 70 percent of migration occurs. The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) Heads of state are going to gather in December in Morocco to discuss the ‘safe, orderly and regular migration’ as they ratify the Global Compact for Migration (GCM). Considered to be a non-legally binding cooperative framework among nations, it will have widespread ramifications once agreed upon and adopted. Voices have already started dissenting that it is just a management framework which will not work in the interest of the workers rather will inhibit their movement. The first draft of the GCM is already out and is being discussed by various stakeholders including International Labour Organisation (ILO), various trade unions and civil society groups working on migration and labour issues. The draft of the GCM lays 10 cross cutting guiding principles. These include: being People-Centred, International cooperation, National sovereignty, Rule of law and due process, Sustainable Development Goals, Human rights, Gender-Sensitivity, Sensitivity towards Children , whole-of government-approach and whole-of society approach. These principles may sound noble but actually are to control and monitor migration of workers. The GCM also has 22 objectives that range from collecting data of both ‘regular and irregular migrant workers’ to establishing mechanism for the portability of social security entitlements to the workers. Some of the important objectives of such a Compact are,‘to minimise the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin, strengthen certainty and predictability in migration procedures etc’. The issue of regulating migration is being discussed at a time when xenophobia is rising at dangerous levels and human displacement is taking place at an unprecedented scale. Hence, there is an urgent need for a global commitment for fair migration and coherent rights based polices as demanded by the global unions of the workers and their families. The group in India discussing these challenges include the central workers unions, the civil society organisations and even a few individuals who are doing exemplary work in the domain of migration related issues of the working people. This group has warned that there is risk that the GCM could shirk humanitarian obligations, failing to provide protections from abusive temporary or circular work visa programmes. It further stresses the need that the Compact should adhere to human and labour rights standards and should not further criminalize migrants or empower the private sector to dictate terms of migration governance. Hence an important demand that emanates from this group is that the ILO should play a greater role and not the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in the GCM. The workers unions in Indian have laid down guidelines for a transparent compact process that gives working families freedom to stand together and receive a fair return on the hard work done. They demand:- •Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining in destination countries. •Authentic social dialogue. The compact should explicitly integrate ILOs tripartite structure of consultations (between the government, workers’ and employers representative) as a central governance mechanism for global labour migration policy •Adherence to International
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25-04-2018
India retains long-held position of top remittance destination of migrants
HIGHLIGHTS Remittances to India from abroad rose in 2017 and touched $69 billion Outflows of remittances from India too continued to rise reaching $5.7 billion, according to a World Bank report The data shows that Indians constitute the world’s largest diaspora population, making it the largest source of labour for world market. Remittances to India from abroad rose in 2017 after declining for two consecutive years and touched $69 billion, still a little short of the $70.4 billion reached in 2014. Outflows of remittances from India too continued to rise reaching $5.7 billion, according to a World Bank report. The 9.9% increase in remittance inflows in 2017 was enough to ensure that India comfortably retained its long held position of the largest destination of remittances from international migrants, according to the Bank’s report titled ‘Migration and Remittance Outlook’, released late on Monday. Of the $5.7 billion sent home by foreigners working in India, Bangladesh alone accounted for over $4 billion or about 71%. The data also shows that Indians constitute the world’s largest diaspora population, making it the largest source of labour for the world market. In 2017, there were 16.4 million Indians living abroad. Mexico and Russia had 11.9 million and 11 million people respectively working in foreign countries. China has the fourth largest overseas population at slightly over 10 million. Although Bangladesh and Pakistan too have significant migrant populations, this doesn’t get reflected in their remittance receipts. Legal international migration is often seen as a rather costly economic investment and hence only relatively well-off sections of any country’s population are able to afford it. The increase in income levels in China and India and the ever increasing presence of the expat community in the Western world helps augment migration from these countries to the West. China received $64 billion from its overseas citizens. This was the world’s second highest and the two Asian neighbours accounted for more than one-fifth of the global remittances inflows. They were followed by the Philippines, Mexico and France. Of the 131 countries from where India received remittances, UAE contributed the highest, $13.8 billion or about 20% of India’s total receipts. The West Asian country was followed by the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UK. There were 12 countries from which India received in excess of $1 billion each. Among them, six are in West Asia, the region accounting for 55.6% of India’s total remittance receipts. Other than Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka received 17.9% and 9.1% respectively of remittances flowing out from India. Thus, these three neighbours got about 98% of remittances from India. India was the largest source of remittances to Bangladesh, accounting for about 30% of its total overseas remittances. Get latest news & live updates on the go on your pc with News App. Download The Times of India news app for your device. Read more India news in English and other languages.
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25-04-2018
UAE, India ink new skills partnership deal
The governments of both UAE and India have announced the launch of a new strategic partnership focused on skills development and mutual recognition of qualifications. The partnership was launched at a forum in Dubai, organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, FICCI, supported by the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, (Mohre) and India’s Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. It was also attended by a high level delegation from India. The new partnership builds on a robust institutional framework of cooperation on labour and skilling matters. A strengthened MoU on co-operation in the labour field was signed during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this February. Commenting on the deal, Dr Omar Al Nuaimi, Mohre's assistant under-secretary, said: "My hope is that this is only the first step in terms of increased collaboration between the UAE and India. It is also my hope that through this partnership, the duo will lead the way regionally in making sure that the skilling of workers in our region is robust." "By strengthening trust in the quality of training and certification, and by requiring workers to be skilled and certified prior to their arrival, we can improve the skills mix in the labour market, leading to improved labour productivity for business," stated Dr Al Nuaimi. "The skilling of workers is also likely to positively impact the wage structure here in the UAE, ensuring that wages increase and improving competition among Emiratis for a variety of jobs," he added. The Indian Ambassador to the UAE, Navdeep Suri, said: "In the spirit of our MoUs on cooperation in the field of manpower and the Skill Development and Recognition of Qualifications, both countries have agreed to work together to integrate India’s eMigrate system with UAE’s labour e-platform and to facilitate skill development and employment of certified workforce in UAE." "Integration of India’s eMigrate system with UAEs labour e-platform will be a very important step to stop contract substitution and to ensure protection and welfare of Indian workers and will benefit both the countries as well," he noted. Speaking at the event, Dr KP Krishnan, Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said: "Our goal in India is to increase the scale of skilling operations, as well as improving the quality of skills provision. The relationship between India and the UAE will be beneficial if we can provide the UAE labour market with its precise needs." "A centralised programme that is demand driven, and meets the UAE’s requirements for certifications frameworks, is, we believe, the answer. This event is vital in helping to clearly identify the skills requirements of UAE employers, including those soft skills to inform people coming here about the culture of the UAE," he added. Three panel discussions, on skilled labour supply and demand, and skill harmonisation between India and UAE, were held during the forum. Both Indian and the UAE oficials said the two sides have agreed to engage with each other on skills harmonisation, aimed at matching India’s programmes for up-skilling workers with the requirements of UAE’s job market. The upcoming meeting of senior officials from Abu Dhabi Dialogue Member States in Colombo, Sri Lanka on May 8 to 9, will, inter alia, focus on the harmonisation of skill ecosystems by countries of origin and destination.-TradeArabia News Service
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25-04-2018
Embassy doors always open for community members: Javed
Indian Ambassador Ahmad Javed has apprised the Indian community in the Eastern Province about the steps the Indian Embassy has been taking to monitor their welfare. Measures have been taken for the community members and means to assist them while also clarifying that Adhar card was not mandatory for Indians working abroad. The ambassador was addressing Indian community members at the International Indian School in Dammam Sunday night. The meeting was organized by Indian Embassy Social Volunteers Team in conjunction with Indian Embassy in Riyadh. Throughout his speech and during the question and answer session, the ambassador stressed upon the community members to visit the Indian Embassy website for updates and developments as well as write to different sections of the Embassy using the email addresses given on the website. He repeatedly asked the citizens to note down the 24X7 toll free number of the Embassy (800-247-1234) and to contact it for any assistance anytime. He emphasized upon the need to contact the Embassy with details on specific cases to get solutions from the officials. The Ambassador placed on record the recognition and honor which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia bestowed upon India by making the country ‘guest of honor’ at Janadriya Cultural Festival 2018. The Indian Pavilion attracted hundreds and thousands of visitors every day during the 18 days event and, the event created a great deal of interest among the locals and citizens of other countries about the culture and heritage. He underscored the role which the Indian Embassy is playing in helping those who are in dire medical need or financial assistance. He cited several examples when the Embassy officials provided meals and other assistance to huge groups of citizens, in different parts of the Kingdom, who became jobless due to closure of companies. He also dealt upon the recent problems faced by some of the Indian citizens who were being held at some airports in India due to Emigration Clearance Required status (ECR) issues and informed that he had taken up the matter with the Ministry of External Affairs and such issues would not recur. He clarified that those who have been staying for more than 3 years are eligible to have their status changed to Emigration Clearance Not Required (ECNR). After his short speech, the floor was opened to the audience. The Ambassador patiently listened to over 50 people asking one or several questions each and answered them after noting down all queries. The manner in which he tackled the questions and suggestions reflected complete grasp and command of the situation and issues which the Indian citizens here usually face and he himself asserted that he reads all the mails and other messages addressed to the Indian Embassy. The questions ranged from issues faced by the employees to difficulties in renewal of Iqama due to sponsors failing to pay the fee or the expat levy. Some members expressed their concerns about difficulties in getting admission into Indian community schools here for different reasons and the dilemma of parents in getting their children in class IX and XII admitted back home if they are forced to leave the Kingdom. On one question, he assured that he would look into the suggestion of having an active Parent Teacher Association for more interaction between teachers and parents. He explained the procedure followed by the Embassy officials in the cases of Indians in prison for various crimes and narrated the reasons for which they cannot be bailed out or sent home. On question related to difficulties and the time taken to repatriate the human remains, the Ambassador said that the Indian Embassy arranges repatriation free of cost to India through Air India and that no human remains can be sent home without obtaining the No Objection Certificate of the Embassy. He also clarified that ‘Aadhar Card’ is not mandatory for Non Resident Indians (NRIs) and as long as their bank accounts are NRI status, the banks will not ask them to provide or link their Aadhar card number. Zaheer Baig, Coordinator, Indian Embassy Volunteer Team proposed vote of thanks and IISD Chairman Dr. Zainul Abideen welcomed the Ambassador.
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25-04-2018
Doomed in the desert: How Indian women become modern day slaves in the Gulf
Hundreds of domestic workers are stuck in Gulf countries, forced to work for little or no money, their freedom restricted. On February 16, Geethamma Ajayan’s husband passed away in Kerala. But she couldn’t attend his final rites. Two months before that, her sister had passed away, and even then, Geethamma couldn’t make it. The 53-year-old woman is held up in a room in Hail, some 600 km from Saudi Arabia’s capital city of Riyadh. Her employer has confiscated her passport, and her work contract has expired. Which means she cannot get out of the room for fear of arrest by the police, and she cannot travel back to India either. A domestic worker from Alappuzha district in Kerala, she migrated to Riyadh in 2015 to pay back the loans she took for her daughters’ weddings. She was promised Saudi Riyal 1,200 per month as she was working double shifts. But for the past year, she has not been getting paid. Geethamma is in fact struggling for food on a daily basis. Along with Geethamma, five other women – four from Kerala and one from Tamil Nadu – are also locked up in the same room by their employer – a company in Saudi that gave them jobs as as cleaners in a hospital. “We are totally stuck here,” Geethamma tells TNM over phone from Hail. Their work contract has expired, so none of the women can step out for fear of arrest by the police. And with no money and no documents, the five women are increasingly more anxious about how they will find their way back home. “All of us have not been paid for the past year. Whatever money we had earned and saved is also depleting. Even day to day food and water is scarce,” she added. Geethamma and her friends are just six of the hundreds of domestic workers who are stuck in Gulf countries, forced to work for little or no money, their freedom restricted. Indian workers stuck in exploitative conditions abroad One of the indicators of forced labour, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), is passport retention by the employer. ILO says that forced labour is any work or service that is exacted from any person under the menace or threat of a penalty, and which the person has not entered into of his or her own free will. It is a violation of the basic human right to work in freedom and freely choose one’s work. Rafeek Ravuther, director of Centre for Indian Migrant Studies in Kerala, tells TNM that the number of Indian women domestic workers being exploited in Arab countries is always high. “In 2016, I had to handle 86 such cases from Saudi Arabia. Of the 86, we were able to bring back the majority, but some are still there. We hope to bring the rest of them to safety soon,” Rafeek says. “When we say exploitation of women domestic workers, it is mainly the seizure of passport which restricts their freedom of movement, and non-payment of salary,” he adds. Rafeek says that irregular migration pathways often lead to exploitation. Illegal migration leads to exploitation In 2017, the eMigrate system gave clearance to 3,91,034 Indians to work in 18 Emigration Clearance Required (ECR) countries. However, social workers claim that the number of Indians working abroad is much higher than the eMigrate data, as many move abroad through unofficial ways. eMigrate system is an official recruitment channel initiated by the Indian government in mid-2015, to have fair recruitment practices. It is an online registration system for foreign employers (FEs) who want to recruit Indian workers, including nurses. Under the system, FEs will have to register in the eMigrate system and the filled registration application will be vetted by the Indian mission. The demand for recruiting Indian workers will be raised by the FEs through eMigrate, which embassies and MEA will verify and channel through registered recruitment agencies in India. Hubertson Tomwilson, a lawyer and migrant rights activist who heads a group named Lawyers Beyond Borders (LBB) under Migrant Forum in Asia, says that crooked agents, irregular migration pathways, and some inhumane employers put the poor women who migrate for domestic work in trouble. “I have come across many cases of women being trafficked from India to different Gulf countries on false promises. Even those who come through official channels like eMigrate are subjected to abuse… Then think of those who are trafficked and ‘sold’,” Hubertson says. How the Kafala system aid
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25-04-2018
Indian Embassy denies it formed intervention force to rescue distressed workers
When a report appeared in a local daily that the Indian Embassy in Kuwait has formed an ‘intervention force’ to rescue distressed workers from the homes of their sponsors, a senior Indian Embassy officially vehemently denied the existence of such a force. A senior official at the embassy said, “There is no intervention force and we don’t need to have one.” The official stressed the Indians respect the laws of the land and the embassy works in cooperation with Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The official added, “the embassy does not directly indulge in rescuing distressed house workers from the homes of the sponsors, rather in complicated cases seek the help of Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior.” Explaining in detail the incident, the official said, one Indian ‘medical helper’ working for an unidentified company requested to go home citing health grounds and the company initially refused to let her go but then relented and said she can go provided she buys her ticket back come. The embassy explained the nurse works for a ‘medicare’ company and before the incident was blown out of proportion, the embassy had received a call from the Indian ‘nurse’ saying she was under psychological pressure due to work constraints and wanted to leave Kuwait and the Embassy in turn had informed the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Three Indians, members of a social organization, volunteered to help and bought the ticket for the woman after the company fixed the date for her departure for May 5, 2018. Later the company asked the ticket to be rebooked for April 21, 2018. On the day of the incident on April 20, the accountant had requested the Indians to come to the company office with the ticket and when they arrived at the office, the female office manager refused to entertain them and literally threw them out of the office. The men then went to the Salwa Police Station and filed a complaint against the woman. The manager of the office also filed a counter complaint and accused the men of breaking into the office and attempting to forcefully ‘free’ an Indian housemaid from her sponsor’s home. She also said, the suspects claimed to be working for the Indian Embassy in Kuwait and presented IDs to prove that, which was in fact a pure lie since nothing of that sort had happened, according to the official. It is the Indians in fact who had initially filed a complaint with the Salwa police against the woman. The Indian embassy official said, the company, which has been banned by the Indian government from further recruiting Indians, fearing a backlash is said to have then discreetly repatriated the employee at its own cost on April 22, 2018, the last day of the amnesty period.
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23-04-2018
Lawyer accuses trio of helping Indian maid flee
A lawyer filed a complaint at Salwa police station accusing three Indians of helping an Indian housemaid flee her sponsor’s house. The suspects claimed to be working for the Indian Embassy in Kuwait. The lawyer added that the suspects barged into the house claiming to be embassy staff and that they had come to free their compatriot. A break and entry and assault case was filed. Industrial plots closed Public Authority for Industry’s (PAI) Director Abdul Kareem Taqi issued a decision closing down 26 industrial plots after the users failed to pay overdue fees, said informed sources, noting that Taqi urged all sectors to be very strict in collecting state fees. Meanwhile, Taqi announced that the Shadadiya Industrial Area will be ready in Nov 2019 and stressed that basic features of the area including streets and infrastructure will start materializing by November. Licenses renewal Well-informed cooperative sources said the Ministry of Social Affairs (MSAL) has given owners of invested stores at co-operative societies a three-month grace period to renew their licenses with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI). 18,519 units Official sources at the Public Authority for Housing Welfare (PAHW) said the contractor of the second contract at the South Mutlaa project involving the construction of 18,519 units will start using explosives on the solid project soil in the coming days. The sources explained that the contractor had to use explosives after facing difficulties digging the site to lay the foundations.
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20-04-2018
MHRD writes to Kuwait Govt
Taking serious note of Kuwait’s decision that expatriate engineers cannot renew their work visas unless they obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Kuwait Society of Engineers (KSE), the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India, has sent a letter to the Kuwait government stating the graduates from the premier Indian engineering institutions have qualified duly accredited courses. According to Jithin Jose, a mechanical engineer in Kuwait, Raj Gopal Singh, Deputy Chief of Mission, and Yashwant Chatpalliwar, Second Secretary (Community Affairs/Consular), along with representatives of the Kuwait Engineers Forum and Tamil Nadu Engineers Forum visited KSE chairman and held a meeting. "The letter from the MHRD was handed over to the KSE chairman during the meeting. He has promised to discuss the points mentioned in the letter with the Kuwait Ministry," said Jithin. In its letter, the MHRD said: “The National Board of Accreditation (NBA) came into being only in 2012. There are many engineers currently working in Kuwait who have secured degrees prior to setting up of NBA. Hence, it is requested the qualification of such engineers may not be questioned at this later stage." In the letter, it was also highlighted the candidates are admitted to the engineering institutions through highly competitive entrance examinations.
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20-04-2018
Destitute Rohingya refugees turn to drug trade; fuel influx of illegal substances into Bangladesh
On a messy bed in a hut within the Kutupalong refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar, sits Munira, 30, with her two children. Munira is a registered refugee; her Rohingya family fled Myanmar when she was just three. This windowless shack, lit up by a single bulb, isn't hers. Neither is Munira her real name. Munira perfers to remain anonymous because she has done something illegal. “I used to carry Yaba tablets,” she tells us, chewing betel nut, voice not rising above above a whisper. Yaba is known as 'Baba' among Bangladesh's drug addicts. It is known also as 'the madness drug' or 'Nazi speed'. A blend of many stimulants, it has a high proportion of caffeine and methamphetamine (aka crystal meth). According to a 2015 report from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the pills typically weigh about 90 mg and are available in many different shapes and colours. Methamphetamine is categorised as a Schedule II substance and is illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. (Other Schedule II substances include cocaine and PCP (Phencyclidine, or angel dust). ver the past few months, Munira has acted as a drug carrier on three occasions. "I have three children, my husband is in jail and I don’t have any source of income," she says, of why she chose to carry drugs. Previously, Munira worked at a soap centre run by the UNHCR for refugees in camps. She earned 2,300 Taka a month, making laundry soap. But that was not sufficient for a family of four. “I heard from my friends that one could earn a lot more by transporting drugs," she says. The drug trade offers a way for the refugees — who are not allowed to work legally in Bangladesh — to earn money. Munira would collect the drugs from Palungkhali camp — a 25-minute tuktuk ride from Kutupalong camp. There, under a bridge, she'd meet a peddler whose face she has never seen. “The people involved in the drug trade follow me from the point of collection to delivery. They would find me; I don't know who they are," she explains. After collecting the package from the peddler, she would return to Kutupalong, repack it, and deliver it at Cox’s Bazar bus terminal. “For every trip from Palungkhali to Kutupalong, I would get 500 Taka, and 1,000 Taka to go from Kutupalong to Cox’s Bazar,” Munira says. That's half a month's salary she earned at the soap factory — made in one ride. From negligible Yaba sales a decade ago, Bangladesh has become a big market for traffickers who source the drug from factories in northeastern Myanmar, according to the UNODC’s 2015 report. Available in bright hues — pink, red, green, yellow — the pills have added to the explosion of illegal drugs in Bangladesh, delivering a second setback after the refugee influx last year from Myanmar. “The same Myanmar army which has persecuted the Rohingya, uses them as carriers to send drugs into Bangladesh,” alleges Didarul Alam Rashed, the executive director of Non-Governmental Organisation for National Goals to be Obtained and Retained (NONGOR), a Bangladeshi non-profit outfit which runs rehabilitation centers for addicts in Cox’s Bazar. “Today 80 percent of drug users in Bangladesh are on Yaba. In 2002, very few people were affected by Yaba, maybe 100. But now, around 60,000 people are using Yaba in Cox’s Bazar on a daily basis. Film stars, doctors, teachers, house-wives, students are all taking Yaba pills,” Rashed says. Yaba pills can be taken orally, or inhaled. The pills elevate mood, heighten alertness, and make the user feel energetic. The pills are also promoted as libido enhancers, though there is no proof that Yaba actually influences the sex drive. Another myth that many women users buy into, is Yaba's power as a slimmer. Students think Yaba will help them concentrate better. Once favoured by Dhaka’s elites and entertainment industry, its consumption has become mainstream, and skyrocketed, over the past few years. "Yaba is destroying the young generation," Rashed rues. Over time, Yaba use leads to hallucinations, insomnia, anxiety, depression, liver and kidney disorders, suicidal tendencies; an overdose could lead to death. Between January and March 2018, the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and coast guards seized nearly nine million methamphetamine pills. According to Cox’s Bazar District additional superintendent of police Afrazul Haque Tutul, the size and weight of the pill make it easier to smuggle in from th
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19-04-2018
India ‘bans’ emigrants from taking up fishing jobs in the Gulf, fearing arrests in Iran
While the issue of arrests must be tackled, activists warn that blanket bans are not the solution. All Indian migrants have been advised not to take up fishing jobs on trawlers or vessels leaving from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain, and moving towards Iran, by the government of India. In a special advisory released by the Protector General of Emigrants, all registered recruitment agents and Protector of Emigrants offices in India have been advised not to process any applications from potential migrants who are looking for jobs on fishing vessels in the three countries, which may move towards Iran. The move has come since several Indian fishermen have been arrested from fishing vessels for allegedly venturing into Iranian waters. They are kept under custody in Iranian ports by the country’s Coast Guard, and it takes months for the fishermen to prove their innocence and reach their destination. On October 22, 2017, for instance, fifteen fishermen from Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts in Tamil Nadu, who were employed in a Dubai trawler, were taken into custody by Iranian Coast Guards. “After the arrest, we were taken to Kish Island and were put up there under their surveillance. We were clueless on what to do. An Iranian court had also imposed a fine – which our employer paid later. But we struggled for food and water too,” Antony Susai Blesson, a rescued fisherman from Tirunelveli, tells TNM. “We won’t forget the struggle we went through while we were in the custody of Iranian Coast Guard,” Blesson adds. Sr Josephine Valarmathi from the National Domestic Workers Movement in Chennai, who worked on the release of fishermen from Thoothukudi, says that fishermen landing in troubled waters has become a recurring issue, and rescuing them is a difficult task. "In some cases, it takes months to force authorities to act. And in this time, the fishermen’s families undergo a horrible situation without money and support,” Valarmathi says. However, Valarmathi warns against a blanket ‘ban’ on fishing jobs, and says this cannot be the solution from the government. “As most of the fishermen who migrate to the Gulf are from Tamil Nadu, we have handled several such cases in the past. It’s the right of person to migrate and find a job. Government should not stop them by putting a blanket ban,” she says. Arul Antony from the National Domestic Workers Movement says that a better solution would be to work on India-Iran bilateral treaties. “That’s the practical solution,” he says. “A ban is not a good move.” On the other hand, Deepak H Chhabria, Chairman at Varsha Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd in Mumbai, a registered recruitment agency, welcomed the Indian government’s move. “Poor Indians are trapped by being offered such jobs. And eventually, when they land in trouble, there is nobody to help them. It is better that we be cautious rather than struggle after landing in trouble,” Deepak says. According to government data, the largest number of fishermen working in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries on board fishing vessels are from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. Rafeek Ravuther, director at the Centre for Indian Migrant Studies (CIMS), says that nationals in Gulf countries rarely work at sea on fishing vessels. "Though boats are owned by them, workers are mainly employed from India and Bangladesh,” Ravuther says, adding that the money offered by employers lure fishermen from places like Kanyakumari to the Gulf. A recent study released by Centre for Development Studies (CDS) in India on migration claims that at least one out of every 20 households in Tamil Nadu, predominantly along the coastal belt, includes migrant workers in Gulf and South Asian countries. Ravuther says that most of them migrate on visas without knowing what kind of visa it is, which can cause problems later on. "And when they land in trouble, it becomes complicated to rescue them,” Ravuther says. As per the Ministry of External Affairs, there are 74 Indians jailed in Iran, but it is unclear whether all of them are fishermen.
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19-04-2018
Illegal workers can return from Malaysia under amnesty scheme
Thousands of Mynamar workers without proper documents are expected to take advantage of a Malaysian government’s amnesty programme that will allow illegal foreign workers to return home by June. Under Malaysia’s Voluntary Deportation Programme, the immigration department will allow illegal workers without passports or work permits to obtain a special pass, according to an announcement on Wednesday by the Migrant Workers Division under the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population. “Malaysia’s voluntary deportation programme gives illegal foreign workers a chance to go back home before June 30 without being arrested,” an official of the Migrant Workers Division told The Myanmar Times on Tuesday. He said Malaysia Immigration Department has informed 15 foreign embassies about the Rehiring Programme and Voluntary Deportation Programme. Malaysia has extended their rehiring programme for six months until June 30 to process work permits for workers who do not have proper documents. “Illegal workers with only passports can apply for special passes from the immigration department. Workers who have no passports need to get a certificate of identity from Myanmar first. After that they can apply for a special pass,” said the official. Malaysia authorities have also informed the embassies that they will arrest not only employers who hire illegal workers but also undocumented workers who do not leave the country before June 30.
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19-04-2018
Kuwait to ensure Ethiopian maids ‘psychologically’ fit
New labor deal with Addis Ababa to be finalized soon. Kuwait, which has lifted a ban on employing Ethiopian domestic helpers, wants jobseekers from this nation to be psychologically examined. Rashed Al-Hajeri, Kuwait’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, said in a phone contact with KUNA yesterday that he held talks with Ethiopian Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Abdulfettah Abdulahi on terms for dispatching domestic workers to Kuwait. “I have asked the Ethiopian minister to subject those willing to work in Kuwait – namely in houses – to training at habilitation centers and that they undergo psychological tests to avert the recurrence of some of the negative (incidents) that had prompted Kuwait to stop bringing in Ethiopian workers previously,” Hajeri said. He added that he agreed with the Ethiopian official on working out a new deal for employment of Ethiopian citizens in Kuwait – a copy of which will be addressed to competent Kuwaiti authorities in the coming days. A delegation from the Ethiopian ministries of labor and foreign affairs will visit Kuwait very soon to finalize the accord. Kuwait lifted the ban on hiring Ethiopian domestic workers after a series of meetings with representatives from the Ethiopian government, the interior ministry’s assistant undersecretary for citizenship and passports affairs Maj Gen Sheikh Mazen Al-Sabah said in a statement on Tuesday. He pointed out that this is being done on compassionate grounds as well, as the holy month of Ramadan is approaching, “which invariably means more household chores for Kuwaiti families”. – KUNA http://news.kuwaittimes.net/website/kuwait-to-ensure-ethiopian-maids-psychologically-fit/
news
10-04-2018
Broken families await legal solution
Without the Hague Convention, NRI families faced with parental abduction have no forum to turn to Little Mohit (name changed), a Class III student of Chennai, gets emotionally swept over on seeing his friend being picked up by his father or getting gifts from his beloved grandma. He stays alone with his mother and hasn’t seen his father or grandparents for years. Kiran, an engineer from Karnataka living in California for 18 years, nurses the frustration of being denied an opportunity to see his son living in India for the last three years. His estranged wife took their son to India in 2014, never to return. Subrahmanyam, a retired bank official of Hyderabad, has not seen his grandson for over a year despite living in the same city. With five long years having passed since he last met his grandson, retired farm scientist Srinivasa Reddy of Tirupati is determined to pursue a legal battle against the system that has created a rift in hundreds of families. The common thread in all these cases is the inaccessibility caused by a rigid legal system that is insensitive to emotions. There is also the problem of not having access to the Hague Convention. What’s the Hague Convention? The covenant, which came into force in 1983, protects children from unilateral removal by a parent and is meant to establish procedures to ensure their prompt return to their state of habitual residence, besides securing protection for right of access. India is not a signatory to the Convention, although 98 countries, including Pakistan and Sri Lanka are. In the absence of a law on the issue, many NRI parents — mostly mothers — unilaterally relocate to India with the child, causing mental agony to both the child and the left-behind parent. Such an act is simply known as ‘parental abduction’. Migration & matrimony Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Haryana account for a larger share of such cases. “Since migration to foreign countries is high from here, the likelihood of marital failure is a stimulus for the huge number of cross-border, inter-parental child removal cases. Once concentrated in north India, such disputes of late have started occurring in southern States,” observes Anil Malhotra, a Chandigarh-based lawyer and author, who studies legal issues around child abduction, custody, maintenance and adoption. The issue is rampant in High Income Group (HIG) families, where the tendency to remove a child on marital breakdown is strong. “On relocating, the parent invokes judicial remedies to secure the custody of the child whereupon the left-behind parent in the foreign jurisdiction is constrained to seek a parallel order in the country of matrimonial home”, Mr. Malhotra says. If India considers signing The Hague Convention, retaining domestic violence as a ground for refusal to return, a system will be in place to define the scope of law, a central authority formed will take such matters to the High Court and parental child removal will be identified as an offence for remedies and resolution under Indian law. “In its absence, the judicial precedent set by the Supreme Court guides domestic courts to take varying, independent decisions,” Mr. Malhotra says. A non-compliant India Statistics on cases of parental abduction are sketchy. However, the U.S. has termed India as a ‘non-compliant country which does not adhere to any protocols’. In its annual report on ‘International Child Abduction 2017’, the US State Department says 66% of requests made in 2016 for the return of abducted children have remained unresolved for over a year. India has been accused as being ‘non-compliant’ since 2014. From 74 cases at the start of 2015, it rose to 101 at the end of 2016. While terming the judicial action in custody cases as ‘slow’ in India, the report mentions Indian courts as tending to default to granting custody to the taking parent. In the absence of clear legal procedures on abduction cases under Indian law, the parents’ efforts to resolve custody disputes in local courts were often ‘unsuccessful’, the report added. With more and more transnational marriages, the issue assumes significance as the child’s future hangs in the balance. Though the ball was first set rolling in 2009 and stonewalled several times, the Centre is reviewing the issue now. The Ministry of Women and Child Development constituted a committee, which held meetings at New Delhi
news
03-04-2018
1% on KD 99, 2% on KD 100-200 , 3% on KD 300-499 & 5 % on KD 500 and above – Remittance tax on Expats approved
The parliamentary Financial and Economic Affairs Committee has approved four bills on imposing tax on remittances of expatriates, taking into account those with low income. Committee Chairman MP Salah Khorshid said majority of the panel members approved the bills, indicating they have taken into consideration the possibility of imposing lower tax on those with limited income. He affirmed the opinions of the committee’s advisors, legal experts and constitutional expert Abdel Fattah Hassan were considered in approving these bills to ensure that the Constitution is not violated. He revealed the government has reservations over the proposals, especially the mechanism for imposing tax. He said the government wants to impose tax on citizens and expatriates, but the committee insisted that tax will be imposed only on remittances of expatriates and the revenue will be about KD 70 million for remittances estimated at KD 19 billion per year. He went on to say that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain are currently applying this law. He argued that banks and exchange companies are collecting fees for remittances, so he wonders why the government is not taking a similar step in the interest of the State. He stressed the need to remove obstacles and monitor the implementation of the bills, once approved, under the supervision of the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) and Ministry of Finance. He added the bills stipulate punishment in case of failure to comply and the executive authority shall play a role in this regard. He cited the practice in other countries where fees and up to 30 percent tax are collected from expatriates who, he pointed out, are satisfied with the fees and taxes provided they are given residency. Commenting on the proposal, Rapporteur of the committee MP Saleh Ashour confirmed that they discussed the bills with legal experts and advisers of the panel to avoid constitutional violations. According to the bills, one percent tax will be imposed on remittances ranging from KD 1 to KD 99, two percent for KD 100 to KD 200, three percent for KD 300 to KD 499 and five percent for KD 500 and above. Penalties include fine of not more than KD 10,000 — whether individual or company; imprisonment of not more than five years and fine equal to twice the amount of remittance if the money is transferred through a channel other than the approved exchange companies and banks, Ashour clarified. Revenues The lawmaker also stressed the importance of imposing this tax as it will be added to non-oil revenues in the State budget. He added a period of six months has been specified for completion of bylaws and implementation. He pointed out the lawmakers are keen on implementing the law, indicating there are four proposals and each proposal is supported by a group of MPs. In addition, committee member MP Faisal Al-Kandari said the proposal was submitted at the beginning of the legislative round as a matter of national responsibility after studies proved that the amount transferred by expatriates exceeded KD19 billion a year. He went on to argue that the law is applied in all countries, including other Gulf nations and it generates State revenues; pointing out most expatriates do not keep their money inside Kuwait as they usually transfer money to their home countries once they receive their salaries. He believes the enactment of the law will boost the economy, reiterating that the committee has taken into account all segments such that a small percentage of tax will be imposed on those with limited income to guarantee justice for all. Cooperate He hopes the government will cooperate with the Parliament in passing a law which will reinvigorate the economy. He added he was surprised when some owners of exchange companies and banks voiced objection to the proposals on social media. In another development, Khorshid confirmed that the pension of 2,681 retired military personnel will be disbursed soon; as the money is now in the hands of the Finance Ministry and they are just waiting for the response of the ministries of Defense and Interior, National Guard and Kuwait Fire Service Directorate (KFSD) to start the disbursement. He said Finance Minister Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf promised to provide the budget in the first week of April to end the nine-year suffering of retired military personnel. Furthermore, Khorshid announced that the bill on amending the Insurance Law is one of the important prop
news
03-04-2018
Gazans Bury Their Dead, Call For "Revenge" After Bloodiest Day In Years
Gaza's health ministry said 35 people suffered wounds that were not life-threatening in low-level clashes along the border on Saturday. Gazans buried their dead on Saturday with calls for "revenge" a day after a mass protest led to clashes that saw Israeli forces kill 16 Palestinians in the bloodiest day since a 2014 war. But only several hundred protesters returned to tents erected at sites near the Gaza Strip's border with Israel to resume demonstrations planned to last six weeks in the blockaded enclave. On the diplomatic front, UN chief Antonio Guterres and European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini called for an "independent and transparent investigation" into Israel's use of live ammunition. Israel defended the army fire at Palestinians who broke away from the main protest of tens of thousands and neared the heavily fortified fence around the Gaza Strip. "Well done to our soldiers," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in a statement Saturday. "Israel acts vigorously and with determination to protect its sovereignty and the security of its citizens." An Israeli military spokesman said Friday's events were "not a protest demonstration" but "organised terrorist activity" by Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008. "If it continues, we shall have no choice but to respond inside the Gaza Strip against terrorist targets which we understand to be behind these events," said Brigadier General Ronen Manelis. Gaza's health ministry said 35 people suffered wounds that were not life-threatening in low-level clashes along the border on Saturday. Thousands attended funerals for 14 of those killed -- two were buried on Friday -- with mourners holding Palestinian flags and some chanting "revenge" and firing into the air. Pressure for inquiry The armed wing of Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, said five of those killed were its members who were participating "in popular events side-by-side with their people." The Israeli army said in a statement Saturday night that 10 of the dead had "documented terror backgrounds" in Hamas and other groups and were killed "whilst carrying out acts of terror." In addition to the 16 Palestinians killed, more than 1,400 were wounded Friday, 758 of them by live fire, with the remainder hurt by rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation, according to the health ministry in Gaza. The Israeli military says its forces opened fire only when necessary against those throwing stones and firebombs or rolling tyres at soldiers. It said there were attempts to damage the fence and break through into Israel, as well as an attempted gun attack against troops. No casualties were reported among Israelis. Palestinians accused Israel of using disproportionate force, saying its soldiers opened fire on protesters who did not pose a threat, while human rights groups questioned Israel's use of live fire. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued a scornful rejection of demands for a probe. "I do not understand the chorus of hypocrites who want a commission of inquiry," he posted in Hebrew on his Twitter account. "They got confused and thought Hamas organised a Woodstock Festival yesterday and that we should give them flowers." Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas declared Saturday a day of national mourning and in a speech said he held Israel fully responsible for the deaths. US 'cover for Israel' His spokesman on Saturday called on the United States at the UN Security Council to not provide "cover for Israel to continue its aggression against the Palestinian people." The six-week protest is in support of Palestinian refugees and the timetable holds significance for a range of reasons that have added to tensions. It began on Land Day, when Palestinians commemorate the killing of six unarmed Arab protesters in Israel in 1976. Protests will continue until the United States opens its new Jerusalem embassy around May 14, a move that has enraged Palestinians, who see the city's annexed eastern sector as the capital of their future state. May 14 will also mark 70 years since the creation of Israel, while Palestinians will mark what they call the Nakba, or "catastrophe," the following day. The Nakba commemorates the more than 700,000 Palestinians who either fled or were expelled from their homes in the war surrounding Israel's creation in 1948. US President Donald Trump has harshly crit
news
03-04-2018
India blacklists UAE shipping recruiting agencies
India has blacklisted some of the UAE-based shipping recruiting agencies, which abandoned Indian seafarers stranded in Dubai for last 22 months. The UAE-based agencies that employed Indian seafarers onboard various vessels, including Shah Al Arab Marine Agency, Enjaz 1 & 2, MV Azab, Sharjah Moon, Alco Shipping Services LLC and Azwa, have been blacklisted by Directorate General of Shipping under the shipping ministry. "It has been reported to this Directorate that Indian seafarers are stranded at Dubai for last 22 months due to abandonment by the owners / recruiting agencies....The seafarers are distressed, not paid wages for months not repatriated from after completion of contract," as per a communication by Directorate General of Shipping to Protector General of Emigrants, Ministry of External Affairs. The Indian mission abroad has also conveyed that despite all efforts Shah Al Arab Marine Agency, Alco Shipping Services LLC, Aiamn, Dubai and Alco Shipping Services LLC continue to recruit Indian seafarers, it said. It has also been brought to the notice of the directorate that some registered RPSLs (Recruitment and Placement Service Licensed) have also sent seafarers to the vessels - Enjaz 1, Enjaz 2, M T Dharma, MV Azab, Sharjah Moon, MT Ocean Prestige and Ocean Grace. Since these listed companies/recruiting agents have been found to be habitual defaulters in terms of payment of seafarers wages and basic provisions, it has been decided to blacklist the recruiting owners/ agencies, Directorate General of Shipping said. It also directed all registered RPSLs who have recruited and placed Indian seafarers on these vessels/ ship-owners to immediately withdraw Indian seafarers and repatriate them. "RPSLs are also cautioned not to recruit and place seafarers on the ... said vessels/ agencies. The immigration authorities are also requested not to give immigration clearance to the seafarers for boarding above," DG Shipping said. Welcoming the step, CEO, Indian National Shipowners Association (INSA), Anil Devli told PTI, "It has been found that often some agencies recruit Indian seafarers and abandon them, leaving them in distress without proper means. The action by the government will go a long way in identifying such recruiting agencies".
news
03-04-2018
Kuwait won't give residency permits to expats with diabetes, high BP
The law seeks to ensure that incoming expats are fit to work. Kuwait is no longer offering a residency permit to expatriates who suffer from cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and several other non-infectious diseases. The new law comes in an effort to reduce expat health costs, reports stepfeed.com quoting the the Arabic daily Al Watan. The Kuwait's Ministry of Health is said to have released a list of 22 disorders that make people ineligible to apply for permanent residence status in the country. Other illnesses mentioned on the list include kidney failure, renal failure, vision problems and a host of others. Majida Al Qattan, assistant undersecretary for general health affairs at the Ministry of Health, said that the law also "comes in line with a GCC council decision which dates back to 2001". The law seeks to ensure that incoming expats are fit to work, added Qattan.
news
29-03-2018
Justice done? Maid abuser sentenced to eight years' jail
The High Court here today sentenced Rozita Mohamad Ali to eight years in prison for abusing her Indonesian maid two years ago. The decision came after Judge Datuk Tun Abd Majid Tun Hamzah set aside the sessions court order sentencing her to be bound over for five years on a good behaviour bond of RM20,000. On March 15, Petaling Jaya sessions court judge Mohammed Mokhzani Mokhtar let Rozita off with a mere good behaviour bond of five years, even though the prosecution had pressed for a jail sentence considering the severity of the crime. Counsel Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, who represented the accused, pleaded for the minimum sentence on the grounds that his client is a housewife. However, deputy public prosecutor Muhamad Iskandar Ahmad pressed for a deterrent sentence, stating that the case involved the public interest. “This case also (strained) diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Indonesia,” he said. Rozita had admitted to abusing Suyanti Sutrinso, 19, using a kitchen knife, a steel mop, a clothes hanger and an umbrella in 2016. She caused multiple injuries to the victim’s head, hands, legs and internal organs between 7am and 12pm on Dec 21, 2016 at a house in Mutiara Damansara. Rozita was initially charged under Section 307 of the Penal Code for attempted murder, which carries a maximum jail sentence of 20 years upon conviction. However, the charge was later amended to causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means, under Section 326 of the Penal Code. The accused pleaded guilty to the lesser charge and Mohammed Mokhzani sentenced her to be bound over for five years on a good behaviour bond of RM20,000.
news
28-03-2018
As "Gulf Money" Dries Up, Half-Built Bungalows In This Kerala Village
Since the 1960s, remittances from the Gulf have been the backbone of Kerala's economy, making up a third of the state's gross domestic product, finance ministry officials said. Every evening, three generations of worried Angatt family women meet outside a half-built bungalow in Venniyur village in Kerala. Nearly six months after the house's foundation was laid and its two floors raised, construction has slowed to a near halt. The reason is never discussed out loud - only whispered cautiously. "My husband said there are problems in the Gulf. Everything is suddenly more expensive and he is not able to save as much," murmured Faseela Angatt, 29, who is overseeing the building while her husband works in the finance department of a Dubai firm. "The construction depends on the money he sends - and now it is a little less," she said. For nearly four decades, the Angatt family has prospered on "Gulf money". Faseela's father spent more than 30 years working there, and his son-in-law and other relatives have followed in his footsteps. The remittances the migrants send back have built big houses across Kerala's Malappuram district - and Faseela, whose husband has spent nine years in the Gulf, is counting on one of her own soon. But the boom is fading. An economic slowdown in the Gulf, fluctuating oil prices and changes to labour policies mean fewer migrants are flying out of the district's Calicut airport than before - and many are returning. That is "adversely affecting" the flow of remittances to India, the Reserve Bank of India noted in a 2016 report. "Unskilled workers, employed as drivers and labourers, are coming back in larger numbers," said Amit Meena, the administrative head of Malappuram, which has an estimated 300,000 workers in the Gulf - at least one from every home. "And back home, they are in a fix because the loan payments are mounting for the big homes they built or the cars they bought with Gulf money," he said. As migration increases around the world - spurred by climate extremes, conflict and economic stresses - remittances are helping boost prosperity, from Nepal to Haiti. But the crucial flow of cash that families and countries have come to depend on is vulnerable to everything from shifting political policy on migration to economic slowdowns. Since the 1960s, remittances from the Gulf have been the backbone of Kerala's economy, making up a third of the state's gross domestic product, finance ministry officials said. Of an estimated 6 million Indians who have migrated for employment, 2.5 million are from Kerala, most working in the six Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman. The fruits of their labour are visible along the roads crisscrossing Malappuram district, in the big gates and driveways that sweep into large homes with porches. Construction consultant Babu Vahab's office in Venniyur has stacks of home design magazines and photo albums of smart houses. In the last year, he has overseen the construction of nearly 15 projects in and around Venniyur. "Even the most modest homes I have worked on are double-shot and have at least five bedrooms," Vahab said, noting they cost upward of 1 million Indian rupees ($15,414). "Families come to my office with ambitious designs, often downloaded from the internet. Irrespective of what work they do in the Gulf, their homes here will always be grand," he said. Mohammad Ali, 52, is the proud owner of one such house. He returned to his neighbourhood of non-resident Indians in Cherumukku town last year, after working as an office boy in Dubai for 36 years. But today he is a worried man as his cash runs short and jobs at home prove scarce. "I built the house, married my daughters, organised a passport for one son, and all my income (has) just finished. For the last year, I have been using my meagre savings for everyday expenses," he said, sitting outside his home. Ali's 21-year-old son left for the Gulf three months ago but has yet to send home any money. "Every time he calls, he says times are tough," Ali said. "I understand the hardship of working there," he added. "But I was luckier than him. I went happily, knowing I would make money if I worked hard. He has gone grudgingly and we are not sure he will earn enough." Many other Kerala families also say they are not receiving much cash from the Gulf these days, and are putting plans for big purchases
news
28-03-2018
Good conduct certificate no longer mandatory for jobs switch
Those seeking employment in the UAE from outside the country will, however, have to produce the good conduct certificate. Residents changing jobs in the UAE can take it easy. They will not require a good conduct certificate. It is not a 'mandatory document' when they apply for a visa if they are in the UAE, said a source in the General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners' Affairs (GDRFA). Khaleej Times received a copy of the notice which was issued to all Amer and Tasheel centres, informing residents that the good conduct certificate would not be needed for the visa if they are in the country. Good conduct certificate: The guide for all nationalities Earlier this week, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) suspended the requirement for good conduct certificate for new Filipino and Indonesian domestic workers until June this year. Deadline for Filipinos, Indonesian workers postponed Those seeking employment in the UAE from outside the country will, however, have to produce the good conduct certificate for their visas to be processed. UAE diplomatic missions, or overseas Customer Happiness Centres at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation should attest these certificates. How Indians can get a good conduct certificate | How Pakistanis can get a good conduct certificate The Police Clearance Certificate rule for job seekers came into effect from February 4 this year. Expats applying for new work visas in the UAE are subjected to security background checks and required to submit a police clearance from their home countries, or the country of their residence for the past five years.
news
28-03-2018
Gulf jobs on the rise, driven by higher oil prices
The Gulf job market is set to grow at an average rate of 9% this year, according to research conducted by GulfTalent. The results are based on GulfTalent’s survey of over 1,100 CEOs and executive managers of firms across the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). According to survey findings, the biggest factor driving employment growth is the recent rise in oil prices and resulting upturn in business optimism. The price of crude oil, which had been in the 30 to 50 US dollar range for much of 2016 and 2017, has been averaging over 60 US dollars in the past six months. Kuwait is set to have one of the fastest rates of job creation, with a net 18% of firms increasing headcount. The country, which has the region’s highest dependence on the oil & gas sector, is witnessing a boom thanks to higher oil prices. According to the IMF, it is expected to have the region’s fastest economic growth this year. In the UAE, a net 13% of firms are reporting an increase in personnel, driven by a recovering oil sector in Abu Dhabi as well as growth in Dubai’s non-oil sector, including the impact of infrastructure spending for Expo 2020. The Saudi job market is shrinking this year, with a net 2% of firms reporting a reduction in headcount, mainly due to the government’s enforcement of stringent Saudization policies. While the policy has boosted employment opportunities for Saudis, some firms are seeking to achieve mandatory Saudization ratios by simply reducing their expatriate workers. Overall, more expats are leaving the job market than the Saudis being hired. Jobs growth in Oman at 2% has been similarly weak. Limited oil reserves have curbed the upside of oil price recovery, while strict Omanisation policies are limiting companies’ ability to hire expatriates. Sector Trends Following substantial downsizing over the last 3 years, the oil and gas sector is now witnessing the region’s fastest headcount expansion, with a net 39% of firms expanding their workforces to take advantage of new projects and business opportunities. The healthcare sector also continues to expand, thanks to a growing domestic population and a regulatory push to increase health coverage. Banking is another sector witnessing a healthy growth, as the improving macroeconomic environment translates to increased demand for credit and higher lending appetites of financial institutions. Construction continues to underperform, with very few firms growing headcount. While improving business sentiment and infrastructure investment in the region are favourable factors, payment delays are posing serious cash flow challenges for construction firms. FMCG is another weak sector, registering only 6% growth in headcount. Consumer demand in the region has taken a hit from the introduction of VAT in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, excise taxes on certain goods such as carbonated drinks, reduced subsidies hitting disposable incomes, and the declining expatriate population in some countries. Skills in demand In terms of demand for skills, the largest upsurge is for finance professionals, thanks to the introduction of Value-Added-Tax (VAT) and the need to update finance processes and systems. Demand for human resource professionals ranks second as companies seek to re-build HR teams that were drastically reduced over the last three years and to prepare for expansion. Marketing professionals are also in demand as companies fight for customers in an increasingly competitive marketplace, while digital and mobile transformations are forcing firms to develop new marketing channels. The survey found that employment across the region remains dominated by men, with companies hiring on average 1 woman for every 3 men employed. Healthcare and education are the only sectors with a majority of vacancies filled by women. Bahrain and Kuwait are the region’s most female-friendly countries, with roughly one woman hired per two men. In Saudi Arabia, where the workforce has been historically male-dominated, there has been an acceleration in female hiring. Some Saudi employers surveyed even stated a preference for female employees, citing higher efficiency and lower salary expectations as compared to their male peers. In terms of age groups, professionals in their thirties are highest in demand, compared to their available supply, followed by those in their forties. Younger professionals in their twenties face the biggest competition in
news
28-03-2018
Recruiting agents warned against not following MEA norms
Protector general of emigrants M C Luther has warned recruiting agents against not following the MEA guidelines, which will invite penal action and prosecution. He added that, “We already have your names, please get ready for licence cancellation.” He was of the opinion that despite government’s travel ban on countries like Iraq and Libya, many ECNR (emigration check not required) passport holders still travel to these countries. This can be attributed to lacunae in law and allurement of handsome salaries abroad, which help unscrupulous travel agents to play with the lives of innocent Punjabi job aspirants in foreign countries. And in majority of cases these travel agents escape the clutches of law in absence of their record with the government. Talking to TOI on Saturday, director, Federation of Indian Manpower Councils and Association, Anil Yadav said that unscrupulous travel agents deliberately recruit ECNR passport holders for sending them to banned countries since their name wouldn’t be on any government record, besides this will fetch huge sum of money from job aspirants. “They neither advertise the jobs nor take permission from the authorities concerned,” he said. Asked why ECNR passport holder are picked by sub-agents of main recruiters from villages, he explained that the ECR (emigration check required) passport holder job aspirants had to go through the mandatory process of emigration clearance through the MEA, which would not give clearance for travel to banned countries. “Hence to bypass the MEA check the unscrupulous travel agents recruit ECNR passport holders, for which no emigration check is required,” he said. Secondly, he said that since there was no permission required from the MEA for ECNR passport holders, no one could ever get to know the exact number of people travelling to Iraq. “Not only the ministry lacks any actual data of these Indian citizens going to Iraq but there was no details available for recruiting agents since their name don’t figure in records in case they send ECNR passport holder to the banned country,” he said. About the modus operandi, he said that fraudsters send employment seekers to Dubai on visit visa and then the local handlers further send them to various cities of Iraq after obtaining entry permit. High salaries was the main reason for Punjabi youth to risk their lives in these countries. Yadav said that salaries were the highest in Iraq as compared to other gulf nations. “If a worker gets Rs 20,000 in the UAE, he will get around Rs 70,000 for the same job in Iraq,” he said, adding that heavy trailer drivers get up to Rs 1.5 lakh in Iraq whereas they get only around Rs 50,000 in the UAE, which was the main reason for Punjabi youths to risk their life to bring prosperity back home. Regional passport officer, Amritsar, Krishan Kumar said the passport office had no role in checking the illegal practice of sending job aspirants to other nations. “Our role is limited to issuing passport to any applicant.” Only in few cases the victims approach the police for action against these illegal travel agents but the issue is rather settled amicably. Giving an example, Gurmail Singh of Batala said that he had paid around Rs 3 lakh to a travel agent for sending his son to Canada but the agent sent him to Dubai, promising that he would be travelling to Canada within a few days, which, he said didn’t happen. “My son came back. I wanted to file an FIR against the agent but there was an intermediary who settled the issue after the travel agent returned Rs 2 lakh” he added.
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28-03-2018
Begumpet Passport Kendra issues 600 PCCs
Out of 1,000 slots that were released by the RPO online for obtaining PCCs, only 600 people obtained their PCCs. The PCCs were issued within 10 minutes, after producing a valid passport and the processing documents issued by the licensed employment recruiting firm. As many as 600 people obtained Police Clearance Certificates (PCCs) from the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in Begumpet during a Mela organised by the Regional Passport Office, Hyderabad in coordination with the branch office of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), on Saturday. The PCCs were issued within 10 minutes, after the producing of a valid passport and the processing documents issued by the licensed employment recruiting firm. Out of 1,000 slots that were released by the RPO online for obtaining PCCs, only 600 people obtained their PCCs. Addressing a press conference here, Regional Passport Officer E. Vishnu Vardhan Reddy said that an applicant had to produce his passport and other documents from a licensed employment recruitment agency, to get a PCC. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has issued a decree, making it mandatory for those desiring to work in their country, to submit a good conduct certificate. But securing such a certificate was a herculean task as it has to start by approaching the Police Station House Officer (SHO) under whose jurisdiction the applicant resided. After verifying an applicant’s antecedents, the SHO issues a letter certifying his background details. The letter then had to be attested by the state government at the office of the General Administration Department (GAD) at the Secretariat. The same had to also be attested by the MEA. “After a series of meetings organised to explain the problems being faced by applicants, officials in the UAE agreed to consider the PCC as a good conduct certificate,” Vishnu Vardhan Reddy added.
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24-03-2018
Australia abolishes skilled expat workers’ visas popular with Indians
The most popular route to Australia—the subclass 457 visa category for skilled overseas workers— has been abolished by the Australian government. Instead, a new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa has been introduced from March 18. The abolished visa was a popular route for Indians headed to work Down Under. Of the 90,000-odd holders of the 457 visas, 22% were Indians. While TSS will continue to enable overeseas workers to be hired, the bad news for Indians eyeing permanent residency is that the new norms are restrictive. Further, new job entrants, including Indian students who have qualified from Australian varsities, may find it more challenging to get a job as a minimum work experience of two years is required. Hiring overseas workers will be comparatively more costly as it is proposed that sponsoring firms must contribute additionally to a skilling fund. Labour testing norms, aimed at ensuring locals are given the first opportunity for a job vacancy, are expected to be more stringent, even as final rules have not yet been announced. Australia lists occupations where there is a skill shortage and for which overseas workers can be hired. The migration reform process began several months ago, in January an updated list for skilled migration visas was issued with significant pruning of occupations and some reshuffling of skill categories. Another list may follow in the coming months. For the year ended September 30, 2017, cooks, resident medical officers and restaurant managers were the top three occupations to be allotted the 457 visas. The 457 visa had a maximum duration of four years. According to the Australian Department of Home Affairs, TSS visa has two main streams. A short-term stream that enables hiring of temporary expat skilled workers in occupations included on the Short term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL). The duration of this visa is a maximum of two years, it can be extended to up to four years, only if an international trade obligation applies. The second stream is a medium-term stream where expats can be hired for occupations included in the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and its duration is for up to four years. Dan Engles, Managing Director, Visa Solutions Australia says, “Short term TSS visa holders are not eligible to apply for permanent residence. The medium or long term TSS visa holder may apply for permanent residence, after having held the TSS visa for a minimum period of three years.” He adds, “Unless you (i.e your occupation) are on the correct list, options for permanent residency are restrictive.” Perth based, Cyrus Mistry, director at Easy Migrate Consultancy Services, explains: “In some cases, the permanent residency pathway through company sponsorship has been removed. To illustrate: There were a lot of applications in the hospitality industry (cooks, restaurant and hotel managers) under the 457 visa category. Many of them came from the international student stream who, after qualifying, found Australian employers to sponsor their visa. These occupations are now on the STSOL list which means they can’t apply for company-sponsored permanent residency.” “On the flip side, a management consultant was moved from STSOL to MLTSSL list, which means they can now apply for permanent residency pathways,” adds Mistry. TOI’s review of the occupation lists for IT workers shows that computer network and system engineers, and software engineers are on the MLTSSL list, but software testers and hardware technicians fall in the STSOL list, eligible only for a short duration TISS visa. Hiring expats will be more costly. “A ‘Skilling Australia Fund’ (SAF) Bill is being debated in the Parliament. Once passed, the sponsoring company may need to contribute to the SAF at about Australian $ 1,200 per employee nomination, for each year of the visa tenure. So if a company wants to hire an expat software engineer for four years, they may have to pay a levy of Australian $ 4,800,” says Mistry. Engles sums up the migration reform process, “The new rules are more stringent and are aimed at paving the way for higher skilled, higher qualified individuals to permanently migrate to Australia. We are already seeing a higher numbers of refusals across all visa subclasses—not just work visas. The Department of Home Affairs has been adopting a stricter approach over the past six months or so, visa applications are being refused without pri
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23-03-2018
UAE to reduce cost of recruiting Indian domestic workers
New Tadbeer centres set to open in the UAE will decrease the cost of labour recruitment. This update might come as good news for Indian jobseekers looking for opportunities in the UAE. A delegation from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) is currently negotiating with the Ministry of External Affairs in India, for boosting cooperation between India and UAE to ensure reduced cost of labour force recruitment in the domestic workers sector, reported Emarat Al Youm. The cost of labour recruitment is set to decrease with the opening of the new "Tadbeer" centres in the UAE and other government employment agencies in India. Dr Omar Al Nuaimi, Assistant Undersecretary of Internal Relations and Communication, reiterated the importance of the delegation's visit to India and its keenness for developing a sustainable relationship. A key source of expatriate labour in the region, India has long been invested in facilitating employment opportunities for its populace. For its part, in 2017 the UAE introduced new laws that will guarantee paid leaves and weekly offs to domestic workers. The e-Migrate system was introduced in 2015 for recruiting Indian workers (including domestic workers) in the UAE.
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22-03-2018
Telangana budget 2018: Rs 750 crore fund boost for roads in this year's budget
An amount of Rs 750 crore has been specifically allocated in the state budget for taking up road repairs in the city. During monsoon last year, there was a public uproar because of bad condition of roads which got damaged because of the rains. Municipal administration minister K T Rama Rao had later convened a meeting of officials and directed that repairs be undertaken. Finance minister Eatala Rajender who presented the budget on Thursday listed 'Hyderabad road development, including GHMC area' among the 34 flagship programmes of the state government. "Road repairs need to be undertaken immediately when damages are noticed. Potholes will have to be filled without delay. That will help maintain the condition of roads ," Eatala Rajender said in an interaction with the media after the budget presentation. He said in the villages too if the roads are not maintained well and in time, the entire road would get washed out and it would appear as if a road had never existed there. In another allocation which has been welcomed by NRIs, an amount of 100 crore has been allocated for the NRI cell. Migrant Rights activist Bheem Reddy Mandha welcomed the allocation.
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21-03-2018
39 Indians abducted by Islamic State in 2014 are dead: Sushma Swaraj
DNA samples collected from relatives of the missing Indians had matched all but one of the remains found in a mass grave in near Mosul in northern Iraq, said Sushma Swaraj in the parliament. The 39 Indians reported missing in Iraq since June 2014 are dead, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj informed Parliament on Tuesday, triggering a storm of protests. The Indians had been abducted by the Islamic State in Iraq nearly four years ago. “I am saying this with a heavy heart that all those people who were abducted have been killed,” Swaraj said. The minister said DNA samples collected from relatives of the missing had matched all but one of the remains found in a mass grave in near Mosul in northern Iraq. One body had a 70 percent DNA match and one Indian prisoner escaped. Swaraj recalled that she had said last year that she would not “declare anyone dead without substantive proof.” “Today I have come to fulfil that commitment. ... I had said that closure will be done with full proof,” she said in a suo moto statement in the Rajya Sabha. Last year, Swaraj told parliament that until evidence suggested otherwise, the Indian workers would be presumed alive. Swaraj’s comments on Tuesday raised a storm of protests, with the opposition Congress blaming the government for giving false hope to the kin of those abducted. In the Rajya Sabha, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad demanded to know why the government had raised such hopes, while in the Lok Sabha, Swaraj was unable make her statement due to protests by members of parliament, including those of the Congress. Speaking to reporters outside the parliament, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor criticized the government for “encouraging” the families of the 39 Indians kidnapped in Iraq to believe they were alive. “My prayers for the families who have lost their near ones after being really encouraged by the government for four years to believe that these people were alive,” Tharoor said. Swaraj also came in for flak for not informing the relatives of their loved ones’ deaths before the statement in parliament. On her part, Swaraj slammed the Congress for blocking her attempts to make a statement in the Lok Sabha, describing the strategy as “cheap politics.” At a press conference in New Delhi, she said the Congress had not raised any protests in parliament in recent days because it was in favour of other opposition parties tabling a no-confidence motion against the government. The motion could not be taken up on Tuesday due to the disruption. “Today’s behaviour of the Congress is cheap politics. Will we do politics on death (of the 39 Indians)?” she said. Defending the government, she said it had acted responsibly and only on receiving confirmed DNA evidence, did it announce the deaths of the missing. She said the government had raised the issue of the missing Indians with all its interlocutors in the Gulf region, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself bringing up the matter in bilateral meetings. The heads of governments of two countries had assured the government that the Indians were alive, she said. “Before the liberation of Mosul, we were hopeful of the missing being alive. But after the liberation of the city, we did not get any information of the Indians being there. We also heard of mass graves in Mosul,” she said. It was at this time that the government sought DNA samples from the relatives of the missing. The remains were recovered from under a mound and they included long hair, shoes that were not of Iraqi make and IDs, which suggested that the remains were of the missing Indians. DNA testing had provided conclusive evidence, she added. Minister of state for external affairs V.K. Singh will be flying to Iraq to bring back the bodies on a special flight, she added. India had also sought help to locate the missing Indians from Iraq, Palestine and Oman besides other Gulf countries. Swaraj said of the 40 Indians taken by the Islamic State from Mosul in Iraq, one escaped posing as a Muslim from Bangladesh. According to Swaraj, the owner of the company for which the 40 Indians were working (along with some Bangladeshis), had warned all his employees to leave when the Islamic State started its campaign to overrun Mosul in June 2014. While the Iraqi nationals working for the company left, the Indians and Bangladeshis stayed behind. This information was gleaned by V.K.Singh who was deputed to
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20-03-2018
UAE's multiple-employer contract system kicks in
Skilled workers, both Emirati and expatriates, can now enter a multiple employer contract after obtaining approval of the Ministry. The Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation said that the new system will boost labour market flexibility and fulfil the needs of employers and reduce dependence on foreign workers. Skilled workers, both Emirati and expatriates, can now enter a multiple employer contract after obtaining approval of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, according to a new ministerial decision. Under the decision signed by Naser Bin Thani Al Hameli, Minister of Human Resource and Emiratisation, companies can recruit skilled workers — holder of university degree or higher and those who completed their diploma in any field — from inside the country of overseas under part-time contracts, which allow these workers to take several part-time jobs without approval of the original or other employers.
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19-03-2018
Kuwait and the Philippines resolve foreign worker dispute
New deal offers greater protection for Filipino workers. More than 250,000 OFWs reside in Kuwait, many of them employed as domestic workers. Kuwait and the Philippines have come to an agreement regarding working conditions for domestic employees, Kuwaiti news agency KUNA has reported. The deal, singed in Manila over the weekend, ends an impasse in which The Philippines had barred nationals from seeking domestic positions in the country due to ongoing concerns over working conditions and safety. In January, a Filipina maid was found dead in a freezer in a Kuwaiti home, which officials in Manila stated was merely one of many similarly unacceptable incidents in the Gulf state. The new agreement, though, seems to have reassured the Filipino authorities that their Kuwaiti peers will offer great protection and a stronger regulatory framework for domestic staff employed in private households in Kuwait. “The deal will ensure the rights of both employers and employees,” commented Sami Al Hamad, Undersecretary for Consulate Affairs in Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry. Al Hamad said the two sides agreed that domestic workers from the Philippines will have the right to retain their passports as well as the right to refuse being transferred to other employers. Arabian Business reported last week that negotiations between the parties for a new bilateral labour agreement were “going well”, but The Philippines’ Foreign Affairs Secretary, Alan Peter Cayetano, had been seeking “more practical measures that would ensure the safety and welfare of our kababayans [Phillipines nationals]”. More than 250,000 OFWs reside in Kuwait, many of them employed as domestic workers.
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19-03-2018
Kuwait, Philippines reach deal on domestic helpers
Workers to retain passports – Kuwait calls to lift labor ban, Manila in no hurry Kuwait and the Philippines signed a draft deal to regulate the work of domestic helpers, a Kuwaiti diplomat said yesterday. Foreign Ministry Undersecretary for Consulate Affairs Sami Al-Hamad told KUNA that the deal, which was signed on Friday night, came as a result of a meeting between a visiting Kuwaiti ministerial delegation and Filipino authorities in Manila. The deal will ensure the rights of both employers and employees, said Hamad. The deal may end a two-month crisis sparked by reports that abuse by employers in Kuwait had driven several Filipinos to suicide. The Philippines stopped sending workers to Kuwait in January after a Filipina maid was found dead in a freezer, the latest incident in what Manila called a pattern of abuse in the state. Hamad said the two sides agreed that domestic workers from the Philippines will have the right to retain their passports as well as the right to refuse being transferred to other employers. A Filipino request to obtain any criminal records that employers might have was denied, because Kuwaiti authorities will not allow anyone with a record to recruit workers, said the foreign ministry official. Hamad affirmed that the Kuwaiti side requested that the doors for labor recruitment should be reopened for Kuwaiti agencies, especially the government-backed Al-Durra company. He assured that those interested in employing domestic workers will be able to do so by paying reasonable fees. But the ban on sending Filipinos to work in Kuwait will remain in place, Philippines Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said after the sides engaged in two days of talks resolved their last remaining issues over dinner. President Rodrigo Duterte has said the ban won’t be lifted unless Filipinos get better protection in Kuwait and justice is served for the Filipina woman found in the freezer, Joana Demafelis, whose death sparked outrage in the Philippines. Bello said earlier that even if a pact was reached, Duterte wanted to see justice served in her case before lifting the ban. Bello said the pact would be signed at an agreed time and venue in the near future, most likely in Kuwait. The officials agreed to allow Filipino workers to keep their own passports, or give them to the Philippine Embassy for safekeeping, to prevent employers from withholding the document. The workers will also get to keep their cellphones. Employers will not be allowed to transfer workers from one employer to another without the workers’ consent. Both parties also agreed to provide a $400 (KD 120) monthly salary. The employer will open a bank account where salary will be deposited, as proof the worker is being paid. Workers in many Gulf states are employed under the kafala (sponsorship) system, which gives employers the right to keep their passports and full control over their stay in the country. Rights groups say this system leaves millions of workers in the Gulf region open to exploitation. There are more than 250,000 Filipinos in Kuwait, the Philippine foreign ministry estimates, with most working as domestic helpers. There are also large numbers in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. – Agencies
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17-03-2018
Hundreds of expat engineers unable to renew iqama due to regulation change
‘KES certificate, accreditation now required for renewal of work visa’ Hundreds of expatriate engineers in the process of renewing their work visas were in disarray yesterday when a new regulation applied by the Public Authority for Manpower were suddenly enforced. The regulation which was circulated to all labor departments earlier this week stated that expatriate engineers will not be able to renew their work visas unless they obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Kuwait Society of Engineers (KSE). To obtain the NOC, the engineers must have graduated from a university that is accredited and is on the list of accredited universities and courses on the KES master list. Since Tuesday, hundreds of expatriate engineers have flocked to the KES premises in Bnaid El Gar to seek help in obtaining the NOC. Nawaf Aboobacker, a mechanical engineer whose work visa expires soon provided Kuwait Times with a first-hand account of the situation at the center. “I was worried when they said that the procedure for new applications was only open in the evening and as expected the lines were massive with more than 350 people all clamoring for more information.” He said. “I stood in the line for over an hour and when I finally reached the end, there was only one lone staff member doing the application process. I had provided all my college information and even though my college was accredited, my course (Mechanical Engineering) was not. When I asked what I am supposed to do now – I was told to go back to my college in India and check with them.” Kuwait Times spoke also with the Kuwait Engineering Forum (KEF), an engineering society made up of over 1,400 engineers from India. They verified that they were facing similar issues with the new regulation as not a lot of colleges in India are accredited under the NBA accreditation system currently being used by the KSE. One KEF member stated that this issue will affect nearly 60 percent of the Indian engineers working in Kuwait. Moreover, even if someone has an engineering degree from an accredited college, they must still prepare for and write an exam in the KSE itself before acquiring the no-objection certificate. Already members of the Jordanian engineering society are making plans to take the exam as a group. Both the exam and the preparation classes for the exam must be paid by the individual, though it is possible some employers will cover the cost. The Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) did not provide any further information about the issue when contacted by Kuwait Times yesterday and stated that an official announcement will be made sometime next week. The official who spoke with Kuwait Times confirmed the new regulation and noted that it mainly applies to expat engineers working in the private sector. The PAM official also mentioned that this circular is a kind of cooperation between it and local NGOs and that it may be a first step in applying similar rules for other professions in the future. Kuwait Times also contacted the Kuwait Society of Engineers but was unable to reach anyone. Frustration has been growing among the expatriate community in Kuwait in the wake of a series of governmental decisions made in recent weeks, which they believe falls under a policy to reduce the number of foreigners in the country. Many engineers have expressed fear of facing a situation where they might be forced to leave the country if further complications arise from the latest regulation.
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17-03-2018
Telangana: NRI affairs allocation increased to Rs 100 crore
The Telangana government has made significant allocations for the NRI affairs in the Budget, setting aside Rs 100 crore as against Rs 79.2 lakh last year. Based on the research and recommendations from non-residents of Telangana, this allocation would be useful for introduction of new development and welfare programmes for NRIs. The amount was likely to be used to address the needs and problems of people residing in Gulf countries. For the past few years, the government had taken up many initiatives for the welfare of non-residents of Telangana. According to a statement, prior to the formation of Telangana, the budget allocation was just Rs 5 crore.
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16-03-2018
ASSESSING BAHRAIN’S NEW STANDARD CONTRACT FOR DOMESTIC WORKERS
The Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) announced that all recruitment agencies in Bahrain must adopt a new mandatory contract for domestic workers from 1 October 2017 onwards. Under the new contract, employers seeking to hire a domestic worker must declare, among other things, the nature of the job, work and rest hours and weekly days off. While Bahrain is the last GCC country save Oman to implement a standard contract, it was the first and only country in the region to partially incorporate domestic workers into its labour law. Still, Bahrain’s regulations do not comply with International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) domestic worker standards. Domestic workers remain excluded from critical protections, such as a fixed minimum wage, limits on working hours, mandatory rest hours or weekly days off. Domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to excessive working hours, with many working up to 19-hours a day and with no rest day. The LMRA’s chief executive hailed the new contract as a “radical” solution to address the abusive practices domestic workers face. But while the contract clarifies some obligations of employers and recruitment agents, it falls short of giving domestic workers fair and equal legal protection. According to the latest available figures, the total number of domestic workers in Bahrain in 2017 reached 100,058, of which 76,249 are women. New contract requires employers to clarify working conditions The first section of the contract specifies the number of daily working and rest hours, and weekly off day off, whether the day off is spent indoors or out, and wages. It also includes details of the employer’s residence, information about the employer’s family members, and the nature of the job – such as whether it involves cleaning, cooking or caring for elderly people. When the employer has filled out the first section of the contract, the recruitment agency then sends the details to a designated domestic worker or to an affiliated agency abroad, where the worker can then reject or accept the job contract while still in his or her home country. This is a positive step towards ensuring domestic workers are aware of the nature of the work, the living and working environment, and their salary. However, the responsibility to translate the contract and inform the domestic worker of all details of the job offer lies solely with the recruitment agencies, still leaving opportunity to misinform and deceive the domestic workers about the terms and conditions of the job. More transparency, but no new protections The new contract does not lay out any new mandatory working conditions. It remains up to the employer to determine the working hours, minimum wage, and rest time – factors which should be regulated by law. The absence of a maximum working hours mandatory rest time is a gross diversion from the provisions of part seven of Bahrain’s labour law, which does not apply to domestic workers, which stipulates a maximum daily limit of eight working hours. Domestic workers are slated to be included in the recently announced Wage Protection System, which will be implemented gradually starting in May 2018. Enforcement Mechanism needed The primary value of the unified contract is therefore in informing prospective workers of the conditions they are to expect, a hugely important step in reducing recruitment deception, contract substitution, and exploitation. However, the lack of enforcement mechanisms renders the purpose of the contact largely ineffective. Inspectors have no real authority to inspect private homes, and the contract doesn’t fall under the provisions of Bahrain’s labour law on Labour Inspection and Judicial Powers. Enforcement mechanisms are essential, considering that domestic workers face many difficulties in self-reporting abuse or breach of contract. Most of them are confined to their employers’ homes (which the contract permits) and fear retaliation by the employer. Language barriers and lack of knowledge about workers’ rights and laws further restricts their ability to reporting abuse. Karim Radhi of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) also called for “stronger implementation measures including monitoring of places were domestic workers are employed. “ While the unified contract is a step forward, unless the limitations outlined above are addressed it remains more than an unenforceable job
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16-03-2018
‘Big leap for NRI welfare in Telangana budget’
There is overwhelming response pouring from Telangana NRIs living in Gulf countries to TS budget 2018-19 presented on Thursday. In the highest-ever allocation, Finance Minister Etela Rajender on Thursday announced a capital expenditure of Rs 100 crore for NRI cell for the year 2018-19. This is not only highest ever increase in Telangana State but also entire country, including highest allocation for erstwhile ministry of overseas affairs of Government of India. The State of Kerala, led by CPM government has allocated Rs 80 crore in their State budget recently which was considered highest ever allocation for NRI welfare by any government, till recently. However, with the allocation of Rs 100 crore, TRS government led by Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has surpassed that record. “Welcoming the allocation, Telangana Jagruti Gulf chapter president, Ch Hariprasad said government should focus upon rehabilitation of returning skilled workers from gulf region. Several Telanagana NRI organisations in the region expressed their gratitude towards NRI Affairs Minister KT Rama Rao for pursuing such high amount for welfare of NRIs. Some MLAs of TRS formally communicated to their friends in Gulf about the highest ever allocation of funds for NRI cell in the budget on Wedensday evening itself, said sources.
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16-03-2018
7,850 Indians Jailed Abroad, Most In Saudi Arabia
VK Singh also said that after the enactment of the Repatriation of Prisoners Act in 2003, 170 applications for repatriation have been received and 63 Indian prisoners have been repatriated from foreign prisons. As many as 7,850 Indians are lodged in jails abroad, with the highest number of over 2,000 nationals in prisons in Saudi Arabia, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said today. In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, he said due to strong privacy laws prevailing in many countries, the local authorities do not share information on prisoners unless the person concerned consents to the disclosure of such information. "As per the information available with the ministry, the number of Indian prisoners in foreign jails is 7,850 and the number of Indians who have completed their jail terms is 360 as of 28.02.2018," he said. Saudi Arabia has the maximum number of 2,181 Indian prisoners followed by the UAE with 1,628. Mr Singh also said that after the enactment of the Repatriation of Prisoners Act in 2003, 170 applications for repatriation have been received and 63 Indian prisoners have been repatriated from foreign prisons. COMMENTSReplying to a separate written question on whether the government has initiated and completed the DNA testing of the families of 39 Indian workers that are missing since June 2014 from Mosul in Iraq, Singh replied in the affirmative. "DNA samples, as received from our respective state governments, have been forwarded to the Iraqi authorities for inclusion in their database for matching with the DNA from the human remains being retrieved by them from mass graves. The report of the test is awaited," the minister added.
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15-03-2018
‘NRI policy to be formulated soon’
NRI affairs minister KT Rama Rao on Tuesday announced that the state government is in the process of formulating a NRI’s Policy and a fund would also be allocated. During zero hour in the Assembly, Nizamabad rural MLA Bajireddy Goverdhan said lakhs of Telangana workers employed in the gulf they face problems. Even getting their bodies back gets delayed, he said. In the past four years, various organisations and individuals have been demanding a policy that would benefit Gulf workers from Telangana. Bheem Reddy Mandha, a migrant rights activist, Nangi Devender, TPCC Gulf NRI cell convenor and founder of Telangana Gulf Workers Association, Krishna Donikeni who has been heading a movement demanding the NRI Policy, Patkuri Basanth Reddy of Gulf Telangana Welfare and Cultural Association, and TR Srinivas, chairman, BJP Hyderabad City Gulf NRIshave allbeen asking the government to create an NRI policy. Mohd Amjed Ullah Khan of MBT has also been active in taking up cases of workers in distress in the Gulf. Several meetings were conducted by organisations which made suggestions on the inclusion in the NRI Policy. Neighbouring Andhra Pradesh already has a policy in place which helps workers. Kerala also has a robust mechanism to not only help procure jobs but also for rehabilitation when they return. Telangana government has been helping workers in distress in the Gulf in a limited manner. Telangana Jagruthi, founded by Kavitha Kalvakuntla, has also been going to the aid of workers. The General Administration (NRI) Department of Telangana writesletters toembassies when informed of instances in where workers are stuck in Gulf due to problems with employers. Minister KT Rama Rao also refers many cases brought to his notice by families. The government also organises a free ambulance from the airport to transport a worker’s body who dies in Gulf to the native family anywhere in Telangana.
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14-03-2018
43,000 violators availed amnesty
The number of residency law violators who have taken advantage of the grace period issued by the interior minister have exceeded 43,000 expatriates, a security source said. The number of expats who left the country without having to pay fines with the possibility to return is around 30,000, while 13,000 corrected their status after paying fines totaling KD 8 million, the source added. Director General of the Residency Affairs Department Maj Gen Talal Maarafi and his assistant Maj Gen Abdullah Al-Hajiri have instructed to speed up transactions of violators. Fatal accident A bedoon student lost her life under the wheels of a bus driven by one of her relatives. The body was recovered by the coroner, while the driver was sent for questioning. The 12-year-old student was returning home from school in a bus driven by a relative, but she got off before the bus came to a complete stop and fell under the wheels, causing her death. Thief ‘disappointed’ A thief was disappointed when he entered the police treasury department and did not find anything other than papers and documents. Fingerprints were lifted to identify the culprit. – Translated from the Arabic press
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13-03-2018
On an average, MEA gets 3 NRI women grievances every day
There is a reason why Sushma Swaraj, the minister of external affairs is trigger-happy on Twitter. She has her work cut out for her: on an average, 3 women—deserted by their NRI spouses—reached out for help to the ministry from January 2015 to December 2017. On mission mode, the ministry across the world has come to their rescue. In reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, minister of state for external affairs V.K. Singh stated that in this period, the ministry had received 3492 complaints of distressed Indian women deserted by their NRI spouses. “These complaints had been addressed by the Ministry by way of providing them counselling, guidance and information about procedures, mechanisms for serving judicial summons on the Overseas Indian husband; filing a case in India,’’ he stated in Parliament. The ministry had also set up an expert committee on NRI Martial disputes, which had presented a report in August 2017. One of the recommendations, which has been accepted was to constitute an Integrated Nodal Agency (INA). This has been implemented, he said and is expected to be an “effective mechanism to provide a single window and timely solution.” It would also help in better monitoring of the welfare measures being undertaken. In an effort to help NRI wives legally, the ministry had revised the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) Guidelines were revised in September last year. “The amount of legal & financial assistance to distressed Indian women has also been increased to US $4000 per case,’’ he said. Women are referred to lawyers empaneled with the embassies or NGO.
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13-03-2018
Minimum wages for maids: Government working on national policy for domestic workers, says Santosh Gangwar
Labour ministry is planning to bring about a national policy to protect the interests of domestic workers and to guarantee them minimum wages and social security which has been pending for almost three years now. Labour ministry is planning to bring about a national policy to protect the interests of domestic workers and to guarantee them minimum wages and social security which has been pending for almost three years now. “Discussions are underway regarding a national policy for domestic workers, including women with the aim to protect the domestic workers from abuse, harassment, violence and guarantee them rights in the matter of social security and minimum wages,” Minister of State for Labour Santosh Kumar Gangwar said in a written reply in Lok Sabha. The policy has been hanging fire for nearly three years as it was to be presented before the Cabinet in 2015. Among others, the policy envisages to make a provision for a minimum salary of Rs 9,000 per month, compulsory paid leave of 15 days in an year and maternity leave benefits to full-time domestic helps. The policy also includes social security cover and provisions against sexual harassment and bonded labour. Gangwar was replying to a question if the government has enacted or proposes to enact any law to safeguard the interests of female domestic workers and provide them with social security and other benefits. The Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 is already in place to provide life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, old age protection to the unorganised workers, he said. Besides, various departments and ministries of the central government run schemes like Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme and National Family Benefit Scheme. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has schemes of maternity and health benefit, he said. Gangwar said the centre has recently converged the social security schemes of Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana with Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY)and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) to provide life and disability coverage to the unorganised workers including domestic workers in the age group of 18-50 , depending upon eligibility. PMJJBY gives coverage of Rs 2 lakh on death at premium of Rs 330 per annum and PMSBY gives Rs 2 lakh coverage on accidental death besides disability benefits at premium of Rs 12 per annum. LIC implements these converged schemes, he said. “The annual premium is shared on 50:50 basis by the Centre and State governments/state nodal agencies. The benefits of these schemes are also available to female domestic workers,” Gangwar said.
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12-03-2018
After a decade of growth, number of expat workers in Oman declines
After seeing their number rise for over a decade, the population of expatriates in Oman is now witnessing a downward trend. According to data from the National Centre for Statistical Information (NCSI), the number of expats has fallen by nearly 21,000 in 10 months. The numbers have, in fact, fluctuated in these months. The population of non-nationals in the Sultanate was 2,121,013 on May 2, 2017 while on March 7, 2018, the figure stood at 2,100,296 a decline of 20,717. Experts said the number of white-collar workers was dropping in the last couple of years, while the number of blue-collar workers was going up; now the number of blue-collar workers is also beginning to fall. It has been noted that the Omanisation policy and strict visa regulation for expats have resulted in this drop in the number of expats, who are increasingly getting replaced by Omanis. Moreover, a six-month ban on expat workers in 10 sectors, including 87 professions, was imposed by the Ministry of Manpower from January 25, 2018. The decision came into effect following a ministerial decree issued by Minister of Manpower Abdullah bin Nasser Al Bakri on January 24, 2018. Sectors affected by the ban included IT, media, air traffic, engineering, accounting and finance, technicians, insurance, marketing and sales, administration, and HR. The downward trend becomes clear by another fact. NCSI’s data disclosed that the expat population was 6,201 lesser than that in the same month last year. The drop in the expat population year-on-year comes after the expatriate workforce tripled over a 10-year period, between 2007 and 2017, according to experts. The 2010 Census in Oman made it clear that expats made up only 29 per cent of the population, but since then, their number has risen rapidly to make up 45 per cent of the population. Visa ban a regulation measure: Shura Aziz Al Hasni, a Majlis Al Shura member, said the visa ban was more of a regulation measure. “Certainly, the measures taken by the government have helped control the number of expatriate workers in the Sultanate. Oman’s employment programmes and new decisions have helped to regulate the labour market,” he said. “Jobs are being given to Omanis, so expat workers who were in demand earlier are not required as much anymore. In the construction industry, we are trying to get Omani engineers to take up responsibilities that were earlier held by expats. So, the expat population will certainly continue to drop,” he added. “Moreover, the Omani talent pool is growing with better quality every year. So, considering an expat wouldn’t even make financial sense anymore,” Maaz Firdous, Consultant at Al Iskaan Engineering, said. Muhammad Zaeem, Secretary General, Pakistan Social Club, said he understood why the government went ahead with the visa ban. “Omanisation has become a requirement to provide an opportunity to young Omanis to work. This is a positive step but it must be balanced. In addition, the Sultanate plans to attract a number of investment projects that will offer many job opportunities. We still need expatriate workers, especially in areas such as the construction sector,” he said. “There is definitely a decline since the visa ban came into effect, especially in IT, sales, and construction sectors. Unfortunately, renewal of visas has also become restricted for high-end cases due to the visa ban,” Zaeem added. Many nationalities shrink NCSI data has revealed that the number of Bangladeshis decreased by 0.3 per cent, from 692,164 in December to 690,381 by the end of January. Similarly, the number of Indian workers fell from 688,226 to 685,938, amounting to a 0.3 per cent decrease. Indonesian and Ethiopians saw the greatest loss in the number of expats with a 3.4 per cent and 4.6 per cent decrease, respectively. Filipinos were the only nationality not to see a drop in the number of expats during that period. Bangladeshi expats were the single biggest group of non-nationals in Oman followed by Indians. “Earlier, Bangladeshi workers would come in large numbers, nearly 10,000 every month. Now, that number has decreased to some 5,000 a month. So, this may be one reason for the drop in expat population,” an official from the Bangladesh embassy said. In November 2017, the total number of expats living in Muscat stood at 955,455, which fell to 948,342 by the end of the year—a drop of over 7,000. In fact, the expatriate popu
news
09-03-2018
32 arrive in Hyderabad from Kuwait
Thirty two people reached Shamshabad International Airport in Hyderabad in the early hours of Tuesday. All the 32 people were back to the country by utilising the amnesty granted by Government of Kuwait, according to Andhra Pradesh Non-Resident Telugu Society (APNRTS) president Ravi Vemuri. He said that in the first batch 32 people arrived and most of them were from East and West Godavari districts and a few from Anantapur. They arrived at the Shamshabad International Airport in Hyderabad at 1.30 am by Jazeera Airways. He said by utilising the amnesty granted by the Government of Kuwait, 3,000 more migrants would return to Andhra Pradesh. He said APNRT Society had provided free tickets up to their hometown and will further provide benefits to reintegrate them in society. They would provide three months skill development programme, provide jobs and loans.
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06-03-2018
Kerala: Confusion reigns on police record
The passport office authorities issue the PCC on the basis of a report from the police. A lack of clarity is still prevailing among the job aspirants to UAE regarding the procedure to get a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC). Many candidates are still thronging the regional passport office to get the PCC even as the UAE consulate officials maintained that the certificate had to be obtained from respective district police chiefs or city police commissioner. According to sources at the Thiruvananthapuram regional passport office, many candidates were still applying for PCC through the Passport Seva Kendras. “Owing to the rush of PCC applicants, tokens at the passport seva kendras till almost this month end have already been booked. We are advising candidates that the UAE authorities seem to be insisting on PCC issued by the police and not the one issued by regional passport office,” said an official at the regional passport office. PCCs for emigrants to many foreign countries like UK, USA, Australia and even Kuwait, which is in the Gulf Cooperation Council, has been accepting the PCC issued by regional passport offices. The passport office authorities issue the PCC on the basis of a report from the police. Meanwhile, NORKA-Roots officials said that they will be offering attestation services from embassies and consulates at affordable rates and hence candidates should not fall in the trap of private agencies that charge higher rates. This newspaper had reported on Thursday that candidates who approach the UAE consulate for clearance certificates were being directed to approach a private agency nearby which was demanding a service charge of around Rs 6,400 to process papers. Sources in the emigration sector said that the mandate given to the private agency might be to check the veracity of the Police Clearance Certificate being submitted by candidates. Candidates of all South-Indian states need to get the clearance certificate from the UAE consulate here. Though DC on Thursday sought clarification from the UAE consulate on the service charges of the private agency, no response was received so far.
news
05-03-2018
Good conduct certificate in UAE: Guide for all nationalities
The screening is applicable only to new work visas and not for expats already working here and then moving jobs. Diplomatic posts with sizeable number of expats have set guidelines on how to acquire the Certificate of Good Conduct (CGC) for their respective citizens applying for new work visas in the UAE. Obtaining a CGC or Police Clearance Certificate for jobseekers came into effect from February 4 this year. Expats applying for new work visas in the UAE are subjected to security background checks and required to submit a police clearance from their home countries, or the country of their residence for the past five years, as a move to ensure the security of the society, according to authorities. As expected, diplomatic missions were initially flooded with numerous calls from concerned job seekers asking about the procedures involved in getting a CGC. Clarity came in the ensuing days. Khaleej Times also contacted the Dubai Police call centre to find out how to obtain the certificate and were told that if an expatriate comes to the UAE as a new employee, "he/she will have to get a good conduct certificate from his/her home country before the visa can be issued". However, the official clarified that the certificate is not mandatory if an existing resident is switching jobs within the country. "But it's up to the employer if they still want a certificate of good conduct issued by the local police from the employee," the official added. The screening is applicable only to new work visas. The certificate will only be applicable for the worker concerned and not his/her dependents. Those coming to the country on visit, tourist or student visas are not required to get the certificate either. The very rationale of requiring a CGC is to create a safer and more sustainable society. "Making the UAE one of the safest countries in the world is the government's main aim. The new requirement will definitively prevent criminals from entering the country. The state has the right to protect society and its members," Major General Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansouri, assistant commander-in-chief of the Dubai Police for criminal investigation affairs, said. Moreover, it is not just aimed at preventing and reducing crime in the UAE. "The new procedure will also help those involved in financial cases to clear their names and come back or continue to work in the country," Al Mansouri added.
news
02-03-2018
Actress Sridevi's death in Dubai highlights delays in repatriating deceased migrant workers
The death of Indian actress Sridevi in Dubai has highlighted a rarely-discussed issue affecting the families of deceased migrant workers in Gulf countries - long delays in repatriating their bodies. The 54-year-old, who was widely regarded as India’s first female superstar, died by accidental drowning in her hotel bathtub on Feb. 24. Sridevi’s body was flown from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to India on Feb. 27, and her funeral was held the following day. In contrast, it has been nearly a month since migrant worker Bhojanna Arepally died of an unspecified illness in Muscat, the capital of Oman, according to migrant rights campaigner Bhim Reddy. Arepally’s body is expected to be flown to Hyderabad on March 1, said Reddy, who has been coordinating with authorities on repatriation. He said that it often takes months to return the bodies of deceased migrant workers. The wait for Sridevi’s body to be returned triggered extensive media coverage, even as Indian embassy officials in UAE said procedures were being followed. The case has sparked a wider conversation about migrant workers, which Reddy said he hopes will result in shorter wait times for the families of those who die overseas. “Thousands of them die in the Gulf region every year, but this is the first time the wait for bodies is being discussed,” he said. “In her death, Sridevi has done a good thing for migrant workers,” Reddy told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Government figures show there are about six million Indian migrants in the Gulf states, and nearly 8,000 citizens died overseas last year, mostly in Saudi Arabia, followed by the UAE. Indian officials cite illness and working in high temperatures as the most common causes of death. Complaints of abuse are frequent and, in order to save money, many migrant workers do not seek medical attention when they are ill. The UAE embassy in New Delhi said the procedure for repatriating bodies includes securing a medical notification stating the cause of death. The deceased person’s passport must also be submitted to authorities, along with official identification of the relative or sponsor - the employer, in the case of migrant workers - who is responsible for repatriation, said the embassy. “In many cases, the body lies in the morgue for days as the employer doesn’t come to claim it,” said Anuradha Vobbiliselty, an advocate who works with migrant workers in Dubai.
news
01-03-2018
Kannadigas in Gulf facing hardships, KNRI forum will help them, says Dr Arathi Krishna
Karnataka NRI Forum deputy chairperson, Dr Arathi Krishna, said that Kannadiga entrepreneurs, workers and those pursuing other employments in Gulf countries are facing hard times. She also claimed that about 20,000 people have come back as a result. She held new policies implemented by the Arab countries responsible for this hostile situation. Dr Arathi held meeting with people facing the threat of losing their employment in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf on Monday February 26 at Vikasa Soudha here. Speaking thereafter, she said that lacs of people from Karnataka are facing problems and that the forum will put in sincere efforts towards making sure that the state government will rush to their rescue. She pointed out that the new policies implemented in Arab countries, which favour the locals to run businesses and industries, have given NRI Indians three months time to leave the Gulf countries. "This has come as a bolt from the blue for families that have settled in these countries since the last several decades," she explained. She said that she has already toured Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and other places, held discussions with NRI entrepreneurs and workers, and got herself abreast of the problems they have been facing. Speaking further, Dr Arathi said that chief minister, Siddaramaiah, has been requested to form a policy for the benefit of returning NRIs on Kerala model towards providing rehabilitation, creation of employment, providing loan at low rates of interest for people interested in setting up businesses and industries, and providing them land for this purpose.
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28-02-2018
Telangana illegal immigrants in Iraq in no man’s land
Thousands of illegal migrants from north Telangana are stranded in strife-torn Iraq even as their families back home run from pillar to post seeking official help for their safe return. Many of the illegal migrants want to return home but are forced to stay back risking their lives as they do not possess passports, visa or other valid documents to prove their nationality. According to Gulf Returnees' Welfare Association (GRWA), about 15,000 people, mostly poor and illiterate were recruited for companies in Kuwait and other Gulf countries a few years back. But they were illegally sent across the borders into Iraq to work for American soldiers as the Indian government had imposed travel restrictions to Iraq after the invasion by the US. These people were reportedly employed as cheap labour in reconstruction works in war-ravaged Iraq after the collapse of Saddam regime. "Many of them do not have passports. Even if some lucky ones possess passports they do not have valid Iraqi visa stamping on them as they had entered Iraq illegally. Unless the Indian government takes up a massive evacuation exercise by issuing emergency certificates to illegal immigrants, they will continue to suffer in alien land. These people find themselves in a peculiar situation as they fear both the Iraqi government and insurgents. They cannot approach the Iraqi government for help as they do not possess passports or visa. Moreover, they have to prove their Indian nationality with the Indian embassy to obtain emergency certificates to return home," said GRWA president Shaik Chand Basha. Meanwhile, about 250 migrant labour, who have been stranded in Kirkuk town and leading fearful lives amidst gunfire for more than two weeks, wrote a letter to Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao urging him to take immediate measures to rescue them. Though there are no official records, it is estimated that about 20,000 workers from north Telangana are engaged in menial works in Iraq. Of them, around 15,000 are staying illegally in the war-hit nation. They hail from Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Adilabad and Medak districts. The GRWA has demanded that the Central government first identify the recruiters who sent illiterate migrant labour to Iraq on "dummy" visas. "There is no official data on the number of Telangana workers in Iraq as most of them had entered illegally, though some used fake visa papers," pointed out M Gangadhar, who returned from Iraq last year. According to Gangadhar, Telangana workers, who migrated to UAE in search of employment, had sneaked into Iraq on dummy visas as they were promised higher salaries. "They were engaged in American military base camps to clean US military tents, wash clothes and assist soldiers in the kitchen. Some of them were employed as security guards after they were trained to handle sophisticated weapons like AK 47," Gangadhar added. Anxious relatives of migrant workers are spending sleepless nights and collecting documents from various departments that could help the workers establish their nationality before the Indian embassy. One of the workers, Sai Kumar from Ganpur village of Dichpalli mandal had contacted his parents and informed them that he would return to India "in a few days". Copie of documents like ration cards, Aadhar and voter ID were sent to him through email. Another worker, Mandala Venugopal Reddy, who works as a salesman in a Baghdad shopping mall, telephoned his father Janardhan Reddy on Friday to inform him that he is safe though the situation in the Iraqi capital is "very serious". Venugopal Reddy hails from Karimnagar town. But family members of Nimmala Sudhakar and Thalla Shravan, who went to Iraq in search of employment, are anxious about their safety. They have not yet called them on phone. Natives of Beeravelli village of Sarangapur mandal in Adilabad district, the duo went to Iraq three years ago.
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23-02-2018
Philippines' Duterte says may expand ban on outbound workers
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday he would extend his ban on sending workers to Kuwait to include other countries if investigations showed Filipinos were being seriously abused by employers elsewhere. The Southeast Asian country has suspended the deployment of workers to the Gulf state since last month after Duterte said the abuse was unchecked and had driven several Filipino domestic helpers there to suicide. “We are doing an audit now (to) find out the places where we deploy Filipinos and our countrymen suffer brutal treatment and human degradation,” Duterte said in the central province of Iloilo. He was visiting the wake of a Filipino whose body was found this month in a freezer at an abandoned apartment in Kuwait, with signs of torture. The killing was the final straw for Duterte, who asked commercial airlines to help the voluntary repatriation of workers from Kuwait. The Philippine Senate began an inquiry on Wednesday into deaths and abuse of Filipino workers. More than 2 million Filipinos are working in Kuwait and other Middle East countries, including Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, but many cases of abuse have also been reported elsewhere. They often work as domestic helpers, construction workers, engineers and nurses. Kuwait has sought to mend diplomatic ties by inviting Duterte to visit, its state news agency KUNA said on Monday. The Philippine labor ministry wants Kuwait to be able to assure safety of Filipinos before the ban can be lifted. Duterte said a list of both reported and unreported cases of mistreatment of Filipino migrant workers would be prepared, which he described as “a long, long task”, without mentioning any timetable. He said he would not speculate on the countries to which the worker ban could be extended. Filipinos abroad sent home last year a record high $28.1 billion in cash remittances, money that helped fuel spending and sustain robust expansion in one of the world’s fast-growing economies. Duterte has said his long-term aim is to slow the exodus abroad by boosting the domestic economy and creating jobs that provide workers with sufficient income.
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23-02-2018
Kuwait's MoI allows absconding domestic workers to adjust legal status
The Ministry of Interior has issued a decree allowing absconding domestic workers to adjust their legal status and transfer their contract to new employer. The General Directorate of Residency Affairs has set a comprehensive plan to streamline procedures for national sponsors who want to legally adjust the status of their domestic workers, the Interior Ministry said in a press statement Tuesday. It, however, stated that the prior consent of the first employer was a must for allowing the transfer of the absconding domestic worker to new employer. The first employer had to withdraw his/her absconding report against the worker. Moreover, the accumulated fines on the absconding worker must be paid before the completion of the process, the ministry emphasized. The ministry said that the decision was taken in response to popular demands to help decrease the skyrocketing costs of domestic workers recruitment.
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21-02-2018
Extension for amnesty seen
KUWAIT CITY, Feb 19: There are chances the amnesty that was given for the residence law violators to leave the country without paying fine or legalize their stay may be extended to another 30 days, reports Al- Anba quoting reliable Interior Ministry sources. The 25-day amnesty ends in four days on Feb 22, 2018, and the daily quoting sources said the Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid Al-Jarrah is studying the request in this regard. Meanwhile, the ports sector, under the supervision of the Assistant Undersecretary for Ports Affairs, Major-General Mansour Al-Awadhi and the General Administration of Airport Security are facilitating the exit of violators. About 50 expatriates who carry the travel ban were prevented from leaving the country because they had not checked with the General Department for Immigration Investigation to lift the travel ban on them. According to the sources, about 30,000 of the approximately 150,000 illegal residents of all nationalities have taken advantage of the amnesty. The sources also said the Philippine embassy repatriates between 150 and 200 of its illegal citizens on a daily basis.
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20-02-2018
UAE launches dos and don'ts guide for foreign workers
The new guide is available in Arabic, Urdu and English. In a move to progress human rights in the country, the UAE has launched its first labour guidelines to enlighten the almost one million workers here on their rights, duties and the law. It also seeks to curb relevant violations. Announcing the innovative handbook, Major-General Obaid Mohair bin Surour, deputy director of the General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), said the new directory is available in Arabic, Urdu and English. "The pioneering guidelines, to be distributed for free to over 1 million workers in Dubai, is a model for all workers here to properly start their practical life in line with the country's laws." The move comes shortly after the Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs (PCLA) in Dubai unveiled the details of a planned smart app to help the emirate's labourers remain in touch with them, and be fully aware of their responsibilities and rights. Outlining violations clearly Bin Surour added that the new guidelines will help labourers protect their own rights and follow the law and regulations. "We are keen to prevent any violations of workers' rights, and help them be duly responsible and correctly understand what they should and should not do, because some are not aware of the law." Bin Surour explained that the most common crimes committed by workers include working for someone other than their sponsors - this draws a hefty fine of Dh50,000. "Overstaying their visa and drug trafficking may land the worker in life imprisonment; drug abuse gets four years jail, and murder can lead to a life sentence." Other crimes include absconding, rioting, theft, robbery, illegal consumption of alcohol, perjury, gambling and arson, he elaborated. Through the new guidelines, workers are also taught about personal safety at worksites and the importance of using protective equipment such as safety helmets, ear protection, goggles, safety boots, dust masks, hi-visibility jackets and other equipment, Bin Surour noted. "We also want workers to be fully aware of their rights regarding working hours, overtime, salary, medical benefits, days off, public holidays, end of service benefits, and accommodation allowances, in addition to others." Putting workers first Bin Surour, who is also the PCLA chairman, said the labour reference book, prepared by specialised committees under the supervision of the Dubai Government and Legal Affairs Department, consists of three main sections. "These are 'Welcome to the UAE', 'Know your duties and responsibilities', and 'Enjoy your time in UAE'. "Although the handbook will eventually be given to the 1 million workers, the PCLA will initially distribute it to 100,000 workers at the Dubai medical fitness centres' training centres - mainly in the Al Muhaisana and Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) areas." Bin Surour said the director will help labourers mingle with society, be in proper communication with others, know the UAE culture, and learn how to get official support if needed. "Dubai's workers will be aware of due safety procedures at worksites, in a way that has a positive impact on the labour market of the emirate, and meet its 2021 plan to be the best place for living and working." The official noted that the intensive awareness campaigns have successfully developed worker's awareness by over 40 per cent. This is due to direct communication with the workers via competent trainers in Arabic, English and Urdu. PCLA will also focus more on recreational activities for the workers in its 2018 training plan.
news
19-02-2018
Krishna Menon memorial to be set up in London
Chief Minister hands over bust to High Commission office The first Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom will now have a fitting memorial in London. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan handed over a bust of V.K. Krishna Menon to officials from the Indian High Commission office in London on Saturday in Kozhikode, Krishna Menon’s home town. The bust created by artist Selva Rajan will be installed at the High Commission office soon. It was Asian Lite International, a London-based publication, which took the initiative in setting up a memorial for Menon in London considering the long-standing wish of Indian community there. Menon, who had lived in London for over 40 years before India’s independence, was instrumental in the formation of the Indian League which played a major role in the formation of opinion in the U.K. in favour of India's independence.
news
09-02-2018
Lack of NRI policy hits Gulf returnees
They also seek a separate NRI ministry. Gulf returnees to the state are landing in a peculiar situation after spending a good part of their lives in foreign lands. The absence of an NRI policy in Telangana state is one of the causes of their troubles, NRI activists said. The state NRI policy has been in the works for the last couple of years but yet to be introduced. It will deal with detail of issues related to rehabilitation and welfare of the returnees. “The sooner, the better for Gulf returnees. More and more people are returning from Middle-East countries owing to various policy changes taking place in that region,” said M. Bheem Reddy of Telangana migrant righsts council. A good number of people returning from the Gulf after working there for many years belong to Hyderabad. “We left our families and went to the Gulf as we were unable to get employment in the state. After working hard for several years, we have returned empty-handed. Whatever little we could save has gone into funding for our families and educating children,” said Mohd Imtiyaz, who worked in a private construction company before returning. In better times, the Gulf migrants used to send money through legal channels which benefitted the government. Now, there should be a financial assistance package for us. It will be good if we are given some preference in bank schemes,” said Taheruddin who now drives an auto-rickshaw. AIMIM MLC Syed Aminu-ul-Hasan Jafri said that the state government could take a cue from the Kerala government which has an exclusive ‘non-resident Keralites affairs’ department to deal with issues related to the returnees. “We need to have a department and a ministry portfolio on similar lines. There is an urgent need for it. A large part of the workforce in GCC countries belongs to the two Telugu states, who will return home eventually,” he said.
news
08-02-2018
Kerala first Indian state to set up mechanism to issue ‘good conduct certificate’ for UAE visa
Applicants to pay Rs 1,000 fee for certificate from district police chiefs. Abu Dhabi: The southern state of Kerala has become the first Indian state to put in place a mechanism to issue ‘good conduct certificate’ mandated by the UAE for issuing a work visa to job aspirants. Job seekers from the state can get a ‘police clearance certificate’ from district police chiefs and submit it in the UAE for a work visa, a senior UAE official told Gulf News on Tuesday. We received official letters today [Tuesday] from the [Kerala] government and [Kerala] Police headquarters [in this regard],” Jamal Hussain Al Za’abi, Consul General at the UAE Consulate General in Thiruvananthapuram, said on phone. He said the letters said the ‘police clearance certificate’ [for the purpose of ‘good conduct certificate’ in the UAE] would be issued by district police chiefs in an expeditious procedure. Al Za’abi said four other south Indian state governments are also expected to follow the same procedure. “This is my understanding … from my informal interactions with the officials of the other states. However, we have to wait for official announcements from them,” he said. The Consulate General in Thiruvananthapuram covers five south Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Meanwhile, the UAE’s top diplomat in India confirmed that the police clearance certificate would meet the requirement for a UAE visa. “Prospective job seekers from countries such as India, where there is no existing procedure to obtain a federal good conduct certificate, can get the nearest equivalent document,” Dr Ahmad Al Banna, the UAE Ambassador to India, told Gulf News in New Delhi on Tuesday. “For UAE job seekers from India, you can obtain the police clearance certificate — it would be similar to a good conduct certificate required to get a job in the UAE,” he said in New Delhi. The office of the Director General of Police (DGP) of Kerala confirmed to Gulf News on Tuesday that a directive in this regard was issued to all district police chiefs in the state on February 1. The system is in place and people can start submitting their applications now, he said. “The job seekers can submit their applications at the office of the district police chief [Superintendent of Police (SP) in rural districts and City Police Commissioner in the cities], along with Rs1,000 [Dh57] fee,” the official said. The same office will issue the certificates after due inquiries about the applicant. He said applicants with a clean record could get the certificate within a few days. “This won’t be a problem for a person who is not involved in a criminal case. If the database of the district police chief does not show any criminal case against the applicant, the certificate will be issued without any delay. However, if there is any criminal record, the matter will be referred to the special branch [the intelligence wing of the state police] and respective police stations, which have to give the clearance in this regard. This may take a few days more,” the official explained. He said the state police would make an official announcement in this regard on Wednesday. The UAE rule on good conduct certificate came into force on February 4.
news
31-01-2018
A photo on Delhi Metro sparked a debate on domestic help. Now pass a law to protect them
The Modi government’s new labour code would include domestic workers. But, with the general election coming up in 2019, it is not likely that BJP will be willing to push through such a major change. A picture on Twitter of a domestic worker sitting on the Metro floor while her employer and her child sat on the seat in a sparsely filled Metro carriage has momentarily started a conversation about how domestic workers are treated. This is a rare event. Domestic workers — housekeepers, nannies, cleaners, cooks, maids — whatever they are called by society, are mostly invisible. Unlike other jobs, domestic work is not even recognised as work by the government. Working conditions for domestic workers are entirely unregulated. There is no employment contract or set wages. There are no rules regarding hours of work or leave. And of course, there is nothing at all that defines what work a domestic worker can be asked to do. Quite simply, domestic workers, the majority of them women, are not recognised as workers and are outside the legal system. The government of India has been unwilling to ratify the ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. It has also been less than keen to create a national law to regulate domestic work. In October 2017, the BJP government made public a new Draft National Policy for Domestic Workers. The draft policy gives domestic workers the right to equal and minimum wages, mandatory leave, social security cover, access to skill development programmes and the right to association/forming unions on a par with all other workers under existing labour laws. The Draft National Policy is ambivalent on whether there should be a new law for domestic workers or whether to amend the existing core labour laws to include domestic workers (such as Industrial Dispute Act, Payment of Wage Act, Workmen’s Compensation Act). There is no clear time frame set out for bringing in either a new law or the amendments to existing laws. This lack of clarity in a policy document is a reflection of the government’s apathy to domestic workers. It creates the impression that statutory protection is within our grasp. But, that would be wishful thinking. A draft national policy that is not backed by a law is toothless, much like the policies brought during the UPA regime. The government has also not made any budgetary provision to create the relevant infrastructure to implement the law. Nonetheless, the draft policy is a step forward. However, after an initial discussion on the draft policy, it has disappeared from the agenda. The Modi government has made clear that it has a larger agenda to streamline all labour laws into four labour codes. The new labour code would include domestic workers. But, the rationalisation of 44 labour laws into four labour codes is being vehemently opposed by all central trade unions and with the general election coming up in 2019, it is not likely that BJP will be willing to push through such a major change. The experience of state governments which have instituted a minimum wage for domestic workers does not give hope. The governments of Rajasthan and Jharkhand are two states which, in principle, have a minimum wage. Their announcements raised expectations which were dashed the instant the guidelines were published. Rajasthan, for example, set the wage at Rs. 5642 per month for live-in domestic workers and Rs. 705 as a monthly wage for one hour a day for part-time workers. The wage was not just low, but much lower than what domestic workers were already earning. The Rajasthan government’s move was counter-productive as workers felt their jobs were hugely under-valued by the minimum wage order. Other states, for example Tamil Nadu, have systematically stalled the process of fixing a minimum wage as unions like ours have been insistent on a higher wage band, which would also require greater effort by the government to ensure employer compliance. For domestic workers, this means going back to square one — becoming invisible and remaining outside the purview of law. With the uncertainties and lack of clarity, clubbing statutory measures for domestic workers within the larger plan of the four labour codes is pushing back domestic workers demands. The very urgent need of domestic workers to be brought under statutory protection cannot and should not be put on the back-burner while the larger questions of labour legislation are being discussed. Every
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30-01-2018
Large crowd visits Embassy to seek Amnesty support
On the first day of Amnesty announced by the Kuwaiti authorities, Indian Embassy in Kuwait witnessed large crowd of people who came to seek support for availing the amnesty scheme. More than 2000 people who wish to utilise the amnesty scheme visited Indian Embassy today to enquire about the procedures and to get Emergency certificates. Kuwait Government last week announced Amnesty scheme for expatriates without valid residency to leave the country. According to the amnesty scheme, any expatriates without valid residency can leave the country without paying fine. Those who leave the country during this amnesty period are allowed to enter Kuwait again if they meet the regular conditions of entry and if they were not banned for another reason. The amnesty period is from January 29 to February 22, 2018. Expatriates who have any kind of travel ban related to any cases cannot use this opportunity unless their case is closed. However expats who have absconding case filed by their sponsors can leave the country using this scheme. Any illegal resident who have a valid passport with him can leave the country directly without any procedure. They don’t need to visit Embassy for travel, informed sources from Indian Embassy. Residency violators with valid passport can buy the ticket and go to airport directly. However expatriates who don’t have their passport with them or passport is expired are requested to get Emergency Certificate (EC) from Indian embassy. They can download the EC application form from this link and submit the filled form at Indian Embassy or any other community volunteers arranged by various community associations across the country. Embassy will issue the Emergency Certificate after two to three working days. The charge for EC certificate is 5 KD. The residency violators can leave the country using the EC certificate issued by the Embassy. Community Organisation such as Kala Kuwait, KKMA, Kuwait Kerala Muslim Association (KMCC) etc has arranged support for the Indian community to avail the amnesty scheme at their centre across the country. Community members can contact the Kala Kuwait volunteers at Abbasiya(66829397, 66646578, 60685849), Fahaheel(97264683, 65198975), Salmiya (99122984, 55484818), and Abu Halifa (97233692, 98853813). Community volunteers from Kala Kuwait are providing all kind of assistance to those who wish to utilise this opportunity, Kala Kuwait officials told.
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29-01-2018
Oman's Ministry bans visa for expats in ten sectors
Muscat: The Minister of Manpower, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Bakri, issued a ministerial decision banning temporarily the licences for recruitment of expatThe decision has temporarily banned the recruitment of expatriate manpower by the private sector in ten sectors for six months. However, the licences issued prior to the date the decision takes effect shall remain valid until the expiry of their respective terms. The decision does not apply to establishments owned by employers wholly devoted to management of their establishments which are registered with the Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises Development and insured with the Public Authority for Social Insurance (PASI). The decision shall take effect from the day of its publication in the Official Gazette. The professions banned fall under the sectors of information systems, sales, marketing, administration, human resources, insurance, media, airports, engineering and technical professions. Fabio Scacciavillani, Chief Economist at Oman Investment Fund said: “It is a way to make companies put in more effort to look for Omani professionals as sometimes companies don’t do enough to look for Omanis. This may be due to a bias they have for hiring expat workers.” “This is a period that is long enough to hire Omanis for whatever positions and after this they can analyse whether they have had the desired effect of this ruling. It will also help identify mismatch or gaps in the labour market. Moreover if the economy improves with current oil prices, there won’t be a need for this law as there will be enough jobs created for both Omanis and expats.” Alkesh Joshi, partner for financial consultancy firm EY, said this would stop organisations from looking abroad for experts who were needed but not necessarily available in Oman. “I hope that at the outset, the Ministry of Manpower will listen to special hires from companies in Oman on a case-by-case basis, because there will be times when we need to hire experts but may not be necessarily able to do so,” he said. “This might, however, mean longer hiring times for companies in Oman. Omanisation “One of the reasons this may be done is to readjust the requirements for Omanisation, but that is the priority going forward,” added Joshi. “I think this is a practice followed wherever there is a need, and this is step taken to secure the long-term interests of the nation.” A Pakistani businessman, who is living eight years in Oman, said: “In principle, it is the duty of the government to create opportunities and jobs for the locals. So, I believe we shouldn’t criticise the law that has been put forward to benefit the locals because that’s what a good government does - it helps its people to lead a better life. Why don’t people raise voices against developed nations when they put restrictions on their employment visas? Gulf is doing the same; so why all the chaos.” “My concern is only associated with visa renewal. But, I am positive that it would be a smooth procedure,” he said.riate manpower in ten professions.
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23-01-2018
Hyderabad: Migrant trafficking stuns cops
The arrest of five persons involved in cheating job aspirants to Gulf countries and later ‘sell’ them to local agencies. Hyderabad: The arrest of five persons involved in cheating job aspirants to Gulf countries and later ‘sell’ them to local agencies has shocked the police and rights activists. In earlier incidents, job consultancies had tied up with agents and set up networks to lure vulnerable people with job offers in the Gulf, but this case has brought into light how migrants settled abroad for a long period are themselves exploiting the needy persons, most of them from known circles and villages. Police said the recent case must be treated seriously and activists say that investigations must carry out to dig into the entire chain of persons involved, including government officials at any stage. Trafficking people to Gulf countries under the guise of jobs is not a new phenomenon — it was done by organised agents who operated from offices and made the victims believe that they had valid licences to send manpower abroad. In such incidents, cases were registered and their offices and consultancies were raided. It was relatively easy for the cops to keep a vigil on them and their activities. But in this case, migrant workers settled in Dubai are operating their own networks and trafficking people. “One person operates only in Kamareddy district, while the others have distributed the villages among themselves to scout for candidates. They have their own strongly built network, which is quite difficult to track,” an official said. M. Bheem Reddy from Pravasi Mitra, a Migrant Rights Organisation, said that the illegal trafficking was the result of lack of an adequate number of licensed agents in rural communities. Out of around 1,200 licensed agents in the country, more than 500 are located in Mumbai and the rest are distributed in other Metros. The government only recently reduced the licence fee for authorised agents from an exorbitant Rs 50 lakh to Rs 8 lakh. “We welcome the move by the Centre to lower the fee as it encourages agents to regularise their business and not send people abroad illegally,” Mr Reddy said. “Most of the time, the sub-agents who get a meagre commission are caught while the main culprits carry on business by employing other sub-agents,” he said. Police plans crackdown on human trafficking To crack the whip on human trafficking, the Rachakonda police is chalking out plans to nab the agents holed up in the Gulf countries in coordination with the ministry of external affairs. Though it’s a time-consuming affair, the police plans to unearth a major racket by this initiative. On Friday, the police arrested five job racket agents for trafficking aspirants to the Gulf countries. A senior police official stated that they have already started talks with the ministry. “The ministry will coordinate with the embassies to nab the absconding suspects,” he said. Another task before the cops here is to trace the suspects in AP. Around ten of them are absconding. “We will send a list of the absconding suspects in AP to the AP police. They will further conduct the inquiry,” official said.
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22-01-2018
Seven fishermen from Kanniyakumari detained by UAE officials for crossing into territorial waters
NAGERCOIL/THANJAVUR: As many as seven fishermen, hailing from Kanniyakumari were detained in Dubai, on January 19, for crossing the territorial waters. Speaking to Express, International Fishermen Development Trust (INFIDET) president Justin Antony said that the seven fishermen — Mellus Jarom, Alphonse Maria John, Chinnappan Johnson, John Bosco Ananth, Ramaseyan Arunsingh, Gunaseelan Jehiskhan, Sahaya Raj Sahaya Minu Stephin ventured into the sea from Qatar on January 18 in a fisheries craft named Al Belad. “We have requested for their release and also informed their respective families.” Justin Antony sent a memorandum of request to the Indian Ambassador in Qatar to take action for their release and said, he had received an assurance from the embassy. “The seven fishermen detained in Dubai are in need of help. INFIDET has sent a request mail to the Indian Embassy and also informed the labour officer at the embassy. We hope that they will be released soon,” he added. 6 arrested for pair trawling Coastal Security Group along with the Fisheries Department officials arrested six fishermen and seized two mechanised boats off the coast of Manora near Mallipattinam on Saturday during a patrol against the banned practice of pair trawling. Based on a complaint from country-boat fishermen of Sambaipattinam about the menace of pair trawling, Coastal Security Group personnel and fisheries officials went to sea on two fibre boats and spotted two pair net trawling boats, three nautical miles east of Manora. Upon questioning, they found out that the mechanised boats belonged to one Selvakili, a fisherman from Sethubavachathiram. The six fishermen in these two boats —Anand (22), Kumar (25), Murugesan (28), Murugaiyan (47), Nithyanandam (50) and Kasi (52) — were detained by the Coastal Security Group and later handed over to Fisheries Department. Negative impact In pair trawling, two boats go to sea in tandem parallel to each other and connect one long net to both of them. They swoop down to the bottom, middle and upper layers of the sea for catching a large quantity of fish. Trawling destroys habitats, shelter and suitable breeding areas for the aquatic beings and disturbs the larvae and eggs. The method followed is discriminatory as large amounts of juvenile, low-value fish get caught in the net, which would otherwise fetch the fishermen better revenue if left on their own and allowed to mature and live longer. The country-boat fishermen are the ones who are affected the most due to this practice. The depletion of fishing stock is due to human intervention of taking out the juvenile fish. Hence, the pair trawling system was banned.
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20-01-2018
Parliamentary Panel Raises Questions Over Proxy Voting For NRIs
One of the members said polling booths could be set up at the Indian embassies and consulates across the world to enable the NRIs to exercise their franchise. NEW DELHI: A parliamentary panel today questioned the "credibility" of proxy voting for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), saying it opened the doors for malpractices and added that the option of using technology or postal ballots could be explored instead. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, headed by Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor, was today briefed on the "Voting Rights to NRIs" by Vijay Keshav Gokhale, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the External Affairs Ministry, and G Narayana Raju, Secretary, Legislative Department. At the meeting, the members expressed concerns over the credibility of proxy voting, saying that it could lead to malpractices, one of them said. The members suggested the use of technology and a mechanism for online voting, instead of proxy voting, he added. One of the members said polling booths could be set up at the Indian embassies and consulates across the world to enable the NRIs to exercise their franchise. The committee also asked the officials to brief them about the practices followed by other countries to register the votes of their non-resident citizens. In August last year, the Union Cabinet had cleared a proposal to extend the facility of proxy voting to overseas Indians by amending the electoral laws. While NRIs and overseas Indians are free to cast their votes in constituencies where they are registered, according to the proposal, they would also be allowed to use the option of a proxy, which as of now are available only to the service personnel. An expert committee of the Election Commission working on the issue had, in 2015, forwarded the legal framework to the law ministry for amending the electoral laws to allow overseas Indians use proxy voting.
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19-01-2018
OmanPride: Social work, her first love
“My services for the needy are 24/7, free, and something that I prefer to keep private,” said social worker Rita Samuel who is celebrating her 20th year as a welfare worker in Oman. “I came here in 1996 and connected with the labourers who had some issues and who couldn’t go to the embassy to seek help. I remember going to the Indian embassy with a case and it soon followed with several others asking for help,” said Rita. As the number of people in need increased with time, Rita started arranging one-to-one meetings to listen to people’s issues and accordingly address them. “In 1997 I decided to start a website where people in distress could connect,” she remembered. However, people preferred to call her directly and shared their problems with her. Today from labour and migrant rights issues, Rita has branched out into dealing with other problems. “Earlier it was labour and housemaid issues but those things have been taken care of largely. Now, I deal with issues related to marriage and children’s issues,” she noted. Rita has a unique way of helping people, especially children who go to her. “I meet them at least four to five times. There is no specific or set agenda. In many cases, they just want to be heard, and that makes them feel comfortable. I try to bring them out of the box in sessions, and then give them a break, give them homework, and ask them about how their perceptions have changed,” she stated. Social work, according to her, is inbuilt in her. To date she has helped hundreds of people from across Oman, irrespective of their nationalities or backgrounds. “Twenty years back I maintained a diary. After 2010, I grew spiritually and realised that I didn’t need to maintain files to prove anything to anyone,” she said. While her inspiration is Oprah Winfrey she also aspires to be like her and help those in need. “Anyone in need of help can call me and I will try my best to resolve their issues,” she added.
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18-01-2018
2,000 unpaid Indian workers stranded in Kuwait
HYDERABAD: With no food to eat or even a blanket to cover themselves with, about 2,000 Indian workers are suffering in Kuwait as they have not been paid wages by the company they have been working for more than a year now. In despair, many are contemplating suicide. The workers who are from different parts of India, including Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, are in a piquant situation. Their visas have expired while waiting for the infrastructure company — Kharafi National — to settle the issue, which has not happened. They are even unable to go to hospitals in sickness as their stay has become illegal and if caught, they will be imprisoned. Restive workers of Kharafi National, a construction company in Kuwait, have been protesting day and night before the company office demanding they be given their due salaries and sent back to India. "I can only think of suicide. I haven't been paid for the last 10 months and my stay here has become illegal. I have a lot of debts to repay in India," said Naresh Naidu, a worker. The workers said that the company told them it was not in a position to pay salaries as it doesn't have projects to execute. As many as 45 workers are demonstrating before the office, carrying placards. The company has put them up in a camp, which is 60km away from office. "We do not have money to travel daily to the office to plead our case. The only thing we can do is sit here, sleep here and wait till our plea is considered. But no one seems to be bothered," said 42-yearold Irfan Ahmed. Moved by their plight, Shayeen Sayeed, a social worker in Kuwait, has been trying to provide food. "We requested a local gurudwara and they have come forward to assist us. There are many workers who have become suicidal and need help. I've been counselling them against taking any extreme step," Sayeed told TOI on Tuesday. The company even has the workers' passports, due to which they can't leave Kuwait even if they decide to forego the dues. With the expiry of their visas, they also have to pay a fine for overstaying. "If I have to return home, I will have to pay ₹75,000 as fine. Where will I get it from? And if police arrest me for overstaying, I won't ever be able to return to Kuwait for work," said another worker.
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17-01-2018
Expat family caught in triangle dilemma
JEDDAH — Following a catastrophic turn of events in her personal life, an expatriate woman is struggling to secure decent life for her children amid a series of challenges and official procedures in three countries — India, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The traumatic twist in the life of this Indian woman, hailing from Pune in Maharashtra state, with the sudden demise of her Egyptian husband in the Kingdom. She is now running from pillar to post to secure the future of her children, who are foreign citizens and whose passports have expired. The children’s father had registered their birth at his country’s diplomatic mission. The Indian woman came to work in Jeddah as domestic helper in the household of a business tycoon. Here she met her would-be husband who worked in the same house. They liked each other and, after a period of courtship they got married in Jeddah. The couple was blessed with two children – a boy and girl – and they were enjoying respectful and lovely life. The Saudi employer, who is known for his generosity in the Kingdom and abroad, gave all support to the family. However, tragedy struck all of a sudden. Her husband passed away and was buried in the Kingdom. The woman continued to live in Jeddah for sometime but she chose to return her home country, India, with her children to give them higher education. Her son is 27 and daughter 20 now. Both held Egyptian passports issued from Jeddah. The children in fact had forgotten the fact that they were Egyptian citizens because their Egyptian father was long dead and they enjoyed life in India with their mother. They did not know Egypt and had not traveled to the country. They realized the need for a passport only when it was needed to update their college records. It was then they discovered their Egyptian passports had expired. Eventually, they were barred from attending college. Their travails began when the family traveled to New Delhi to get the children’s passports renewed from the Egyptian Embassy. But the embassy advised the son to travel to Egypt for military training, which is mandatory for every Egyptian male above 18. They later discovered that as he was the only male child in the family, there was an exemption for him from compulsory conscription. When this was conveyed to the Egyptian mission, another glitch came to fore. A civil ID issued by Egypt’s Ministry of Interior is mandatory for the renewal or issuance of Egyptian passports, and the children had no such IDs. They learned that enrolment teams of Egyptian Interior Ministry periodically visit Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries with sizable Egyptian populations to issue them civil IDs. The family planned to visit Jeddah for such enrollment but the Egyptian Consulate informed them that only Egyptians holding valid Saudi residency are allowed to enroll when the delegations visit and advised them to travel to Egypt for the enrollment. The family was concerned about visiting Egypt as they had never been to the country nor do they know any of relatives from their father’s side.
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16-01-2018
Passports may soon no longer work as valid proof of address in India
The new passports being printed will no longer have the last page with the holder’s address – it will be blank instead. Passports may soon stop serving as valid proof of address in India, with the Ministry of Externala Affairs announcing that the last page will no longer be printed in the new passports issued. The last page of the passport includes the father or legal guardian’s name, along with the names of the holder’s mother, spouse and their address. Spokesperson for the foreign ministry, Raveesh Kumar, said that the decision was taken based on the recommendations of a three-member committee – comprising officials from the Ministry of External Affairs, and the Ministry of Women and Child Development. He also said that the last page of the passport will be blank in the new version. The information will still be stored in the system of the Ministry, so it will not affect the government. "As the last page of the passport would not be printed now, the passport holders with ECR (Emigration Check Required) status would be issued a passport with orange passport jacket and those with non-ECR status would continue to get a blue passport," he added. According to a report published in Hindustan Times, Surendera Kumar, under-secretary of policy and legal matters at the Consular, Passport and Visa Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, told the newspaper that the decision to keep the last page blank was to protect the details of the passport-holder mentioned in the document. Surendra also said that the changes would be carried out when the next series of passports are printed. Passports currently are issued in three colours. Government officers have a white passport, diplomats have issued red passports and all others are blue. These changes will not affect people holding the old passports, which will continue to remain valid till they expire. Raveesh also said that the Indian Security Press in Nasik will begin making the new passports soon. And till they are designed, manufactured and made available to the Ministry of External Affairs, the last page will continue to have all the details.
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15-01-2018
Cheated, exploited and trapped: Untold stories of Indian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia
There are still others that are not only denied salaries, but also food and water. 5-year-old Asima Khatoon went to Riyadh about five months ago, with promises of better work which would enable her to financially support her family. Nine days ago, her mother Ghousia Khatoon was informed of her daughter’s death in the Gulf country. Since then, Ghousia has been trying to get her body back to India. Asima was one of the many workers who aspire to go to the Gulf countries in search of better work opportunities but instead are grossly abused by employers. Hers is one of the few stories that highlight the trauma that many migrant workers face in the Gulf countries. "I went to work as a welder. But when I got there, they took my passport and made me work as a construction labourer. Once when I tried to call my parents, they snatched my phone and kept it with them for 15 days," says Ritesh Kumar Sharma, who went to Saudi Arabia in December 2012. Despite the fact that his agreement was for two years, he was able to return only on April 6 this year. There are still others that are not only denied phones and salaries, but also food and water. “I had to beg for food in Saudi Arabia,” says Mohammad Yusuf, another migrant worker who was able to return in 20 days. Yusuf speaks conversational English and says that he was promised a salesperson’s job by his agent. However, when he went there, he too was made to work as a labourer. When he tried to contact the agent who sent him there, there was no response. Irudaya Rajan, a professor working at the Center for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, explains that while the government has recruiting agents who are registered, there are those who operate illegally. However, there is a connection between the two – “The problem is, any [registered] agent will have to look at locals to get people to fulfill the demands of the employers as he does not know everyone. Hence, these uncertified agents operate.” The problem is not merely the illegal agents who make false promises and take no guarantee for the treatment meted out to the workers at the hands of the employers. “Even workers who go through registered recruiting agents can face exploitation and abuse,” says Himanshi Matta, Media Officer, Amnesty International India. Sana, a 28-year-old girl from Mumbai, went to Saudi Arabia in October 2015 through an agent known in their community. She was promised the job of a house nurse. However, she realized that the Arab man who had promised to “keep her like a daughter” did not have any intentions of doing so. “She calls me and she cries. They [her employers] are torturing her with domestic grunt work; they don’t even give her food,” narrates her mother (name withheld on Sana’s request). She has been running from pillar to post for months now to get her daughter back. “I have tried everything. We have written to Sushma Swaraj also. Someone told us to write to Modi. We have gone to government offices in Mumbai. Nobody has replied. Every second day we go to the agent also to get him to talk to her owner.” She explains that the owner refuses to send her back because he has already paid to get her to the country. When he demands his money back, the agent says that he has used it to buy her tickets to Saudi Arabia. In the tussle, her daughter’s nightmare continues in the foreign country. Sana and her mother are in touch with Kundan Srivastava, a human rights activist working on cases of migrant workers wanting to return back home. “It’s the fault of our people too. Fraudulent agents tell Saudi employers that they can treat our workers however they want because there’s nothing protecting the poor man here,” he argues. Srivastava maintains that while he knows the false promises made in such cases all too well, he is hopeful in Sana’s case. However, there are those, whose voices succumb to the whims of these “owners” as these workers call their employers, before they are heard. Among those is the case of 22-year-old Rajesh Kumar. Rajesh went to Saudi to work as a mechanic. While he got to keep the profession of his choice, his employer would make him labour for long hours. “He was there for eight months. One day his employer kept pressuring him but he didn’t feel like working. So he went to his room. Angered by his defiance, he [employer] went there and they had an argument. He hit
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10-01-2018
Increase in Kerala diaspora returning home, Gulf remittances may fall: Thomas Isaac
Actually, the diaspora returning are pulling out all their savings from the country they worked in and putting in banks here," Isaac said. Traditionally, remittances from the Middle East have been the mainstay of Kerala's economy, but with more and more of the state's diaspora bidding goodbye to the Gulf countries, things are going to change, once and for all. According to a Kerala minister, even though there are no figures to show the exact number of people returning from the Middle East countries for good, there is a marked change in their spending pattern -- such households are now more cautious about dispensing with their money. State Minister for Finance Thomas Issac told reporters on Friday, "Why we say that there is an increase in our diaspora returning is because the number of arrivals at our airports far outnumber the number of departures. "Another indicator that things are no more that rosy in the Middle East is that there is a marked shift in the spending pattern of the diaspora households... They have become very careful now." However, Issac also said that until now there was no fall in remittances from the state's diaspora. "Eventually remittances might come down, but not now. Actually, the diaspora returning for good are pulling out all their savings from the country they worked in and putting in banks here," he explained. Although decline in remittances has not been recorded in the state, the rate of growth of NRI deposits has certainly come down, according to figures released by the State Level Bankers' Committee (SLBC). The SLBC figures show that deposits in 6,339 branches of various commercial, scheduled and private banks in the state, which stood at Rs 117,349 crore in June 2015, grew to Rs 142,668 crore in June next year and saw a minimal hike to Rs 154,252 crore in June 2017. According to the only study report published in 2014 by migration expert S Irudayarajan of the Centre for Development Studies in Thiruvananthapuram, 90 per cent of Kerala's 23.63 lakh diaspora are located in various Middle-East countries, of which the UAE accounts for 38.7 per cent, followed by Saudi Arabia, which has 25.2 per cent.
news
09-01-2018
Dirty old men: Aged Arab sheikhs caught while trying to 'buy' child brides in Hyderabad
From lodge and hotel owners, to a network of brokers and qazis, many arrests have been made by the Hyderabad police. It's an open secret in Hyderabad that many young girls are married off to rich sheikhs from the Gulf nations. Last month, TNM had reported on the web of brokers and qazis who run the elaborate trafficking racket in Hyderabad after a 16-year-old girl was sold to an Omani sheikh. In a massive operation, eight men – five Omani nationals and three Qatar nationals – were nabbed by the Hyderabad police on Wednesday. These men estimated to be in their 50s and 60s, one as old as 80 years old, were in the city to marry minor girls and traffic them to the Middle East. The police have cracked a nexus of shiekhs, Muslim clerics and agents, who were trafficking several minors. Al Mayahi Habib Ali Issa, Al Salhi Talib Humeid Ali, Al Ubaidani Juma Shinoon Sulaiman, Al Salehi Nasser Khalifa Hamed, Al Qasimi Hassan Mazaaul Mohammed, Omer Mohammed Seraj Abdal Rahman, Hamad Jabir O Al-Kuwari, and Safeldin Mohammed Mohamednour Salih from Oman and Qatar were arrested by the police. Four lodge owners and five brokers, three Qazis were also arrested, including Chief Qazi of Mumbai, Farid Ahmed Khan, who is the kingpin. The police said that they have identified 35 brokers in Hyderabad alone. Menace starts in the Gulf There are many brokers in the Gulf countries, of which 15 were identified from Oman and Qatar, the police said. “These brokers will associate with the Sheikhs during their stay, and help them communicate with the local girls and their families. Often, parents are lured with money, and innocent Muslim girls are dragged into marriage to a wealthy sheikh. After reaching the new country, the women end up getting exploited at the hands of several others,” the police said in a press release. “The agents are responsible for everything. From the reception at the Hyderabad airport to transportation, accommodation, identifying girls, convincing parents, interview between the girl and the Sheikh, coordination with Qazis, making sure that all forged documents are ready, and then sending the girl to her ‘husband’,” Hyderabad Police Commissioner M Mahender Reddy told mediapersons on Wednesday. “Several brokers are also women. We will open history sheets on all of them and track their residences, lodges, houses and even use geo-tagging if necessary,” he added. ‘Categories’ The police also said that local brokers segregate their clients into three categories – Autowala, Ambassador car wala, and Innova wala. While the first two categories take shelter at local hotels in areas like Chandrayangutta and Charminar, sheikhs from the third category get five-star treatment. “They are accommodated at upscale star hotels. The agents will exhibit the girls at the hotels, or the shiekhs will visit the house of the girl or broker, to select the one they want to marry,” the police said. The police said that they had uncovered the entire racket, as they were investigating a specific case of a 16-year-old girl from Hyderabad who was sold to an Omani sheikh. In spite of the Indian government intervening, the girl has not been rescued from the sheikh. The case The marriage was performed in May at a guest house in Jalpally where the Omani national was staying. He returned home after the marriage and sent a visa for the girl, who later joined him in Muscat. Later, the girl informed her parents over the phone that her husband was mentally and physically torturing her. Following this, her mother Fathima* lodged a complaint at the Falaknuma police station that her husband, his sister, Ghousia Begum, and brother-in-law, Sikander, "sold" the girl to the Omani man for Rs 5 lakh. According to reports, they paid Rs 5 lakh to the brokers at the time of 'nikaah', which they also allegedly split with the Qazi who performed the marriage. "We are making diplomatic efforts to retrieve the girl. Since the shiekh is claiming that she is his wife, there is a due process to follow. We are working as fast as we can, to get the girl back,” Commissioner Mahendra Reddy said. The local brokers The police arrested five local brokers in relation to the case, who were also involved in other such cases. The first person, identified as Ahmed arranged visas for domestic workers, beauticians and married girls. Another person arrested by the police was Mohammed Asif Moh
news
08-01-2018
Should we commit suicide?’ 3,000 Indian workers stuck in Kuwait without food, money
Employees of Kharafi National, a Kuwaiti infrastructure company, have tried everything – from strikes to approaching the Indian embassy – but to no avail. “There’s nothing to eat at home. I haven’t owned a soap in seven months.” “Only thing we are asking now is for them to send us back home. They aren’t doing that either.” “I’m going to commit suicide. That’s how bad our condition is.” “I have shared our plight on social media to everyone. If we go to the [Indian] embassy… They too have failed to help us. I don’t know what else to say, I just feel like crying.” These are the words of four of the thousands of Indian workers, who are stranded in Kuwait. Over 7,000 employees – former and present – of Kharafi National, an infrastructure company, have been struggling without money, accommodation and even food for about a year now. Of the 7,000 workers from different nationalities, a little over 3,000 belong to various Indian states. Most of them have not been paid their salaries for up to 10 months, and more than half of them have visas that expired months ago. This means that they cannot even go back home without paying a hefty fine, which they have no means to pay. Workers have tried everything over the last year and a half – strikes, speaking to the authorities, approaching the Indian embassy – but to no avail. Many of those who resigned months ago are still staying in labour camps, with four in a single room, hoping every day that they would get their settlement from the company and would be able to go home. “I have no means to feed my wife and children. I haven’t sent any money home in one year,” rues Murugan, a worker from Tamil Nadu, in a video sent to TNM by a local social worker, “Few of us have visas. We have to pay the fines for expired visas but they are not giving us our settlement. I have to pay Rs 80,000 to go back to India. How should I pay that much money?” Months of trouble with no respite Sajil Kumar was one of the fortunate ones. A native of Belagavi, Karnataka, Sajil resigned from Kharafi National in January 2017 after working for a year and three months as an electrical design engineer. He recounts that the trouble began in late 2015. The company was paying salaries at that time, but at a gap of two months on average. But in mid-2016, it became more sporadic and in some cases, there was no payment for months. As a result, a number of people had begun resigning by April 2017. The people who quit had to serve a three-month notice period. However, many ended up staying back for longer in the hopes that the company would clear their dues. After the workers increased the pressure on the company, Kharafi National said that they would make batches of 10 and pay the settlement. But by December 2017, even the settlements become difficult to come by. According to Sajil, these problems started because of some politics between the higher management. “I stayed for three months after serving my notice period, hoping that they would pay the salary they owed me. But in August last year, I came back home. They still owe me eight months’ wages,” the 32-year-old tells TNM. Like him, many exited the Gulf country after a power of attorney document which designated an acquaintance in Kuwait to collect the settlement, if it came, on their behalf. No money, no food, and nowhere to turn to A number of workers have been waiting outside the Kharafi National head office for several days now. The video below shows employees squatting on nothing but cardboard sheets in the corridor. They have all but a backpack, and some, a water bottle. But no one seems to be interested in their plight. “The problem is the same. There has been no solution till now. People are sitting here thirsty, hungry, and cold […] It has been 10 months since we resigned […] The company is giving us neither food, nor sending us home,” says the man who is recording the video, also a worker. The camera then focuses on Murugan. “We have been sitting in front of Kharafi head office and protesting for the past 7 days. Nobody even cares to respond. If we ask the finance manager, he keeps delaying it by a week, every week. I have resigned and have been sitting here for the past 9 months,” he says. Another video from May 2017 has a man from Tamil Nadu talking about his plight. “It’s been three months since I resigned and I hav
news
05-01-2018
Modern day slaves: How Indian migrant workers’ rights are violated in the Gulf
Unregistered agents, the Kafala system and the flouting of norms enable the exploitation of migrant workers. Nayeem*, went from Adilabad, Telangana to Saudi Arabia to work in a beauty parlour. But for three years, she was exploited, made to do housework, and allegedly sexually assaulted by her employer’s son. 46-year-old Haseena Begum, a woman from Hyderabad, broke both her legs after she was allegedly thrown from the third floor by her Saudi employer. Sameera*, who went from Bengaluru to Abu Dhabi in the hopes of earning better wages as a domestic help, was made to work for long hours without breaks. She was then held captive by the recruiting agency along with 10 other women belonging to different nationalities. Horrifying stories of abuse, assault and exploitation are not uncommon for Indian migrant workers who go to the Gulf countries. This reporter has spoken to a number of migrant workers in the past year and a half. The stories follow a similar trajectory: hopes for a better life and/or financial pressures, an agent who promises a comfortable job and wages in a Gulf country, abuse at the hands of the employer there and failure to receive timely help from local or Indian authorities. There are several systems in place which enable this exploitation, aided by deep running malpractices and corruption. Unregistered agents India has over 1200 registered recruiting agents, says Bheem Reddy, vice-president of the Migrants Rights Council. However, these agents often delegate sub-agents in smaller towns and rural areas. “Many of these sub-agents turn rogue and trap people in need with false promises. These agents report to district agents, who report to the city agent (a Hyderabad agent for instance,) who then reports to the main registered agent. Ultimately everything has to go through the latter only. The problem is that when a case comes to light, the police fixates on the one sub-agent and doesn’t investigate the chain,” he explains. Hubertson T, an advocate with Lawyers Beyond Borders, regularly works cases of exploited Indian migrant workers. He points out that while there are lists of unregistered agents on government portals, there is no systematic crackdown to make them shut shop. He insists they should be booked under section 370 of IPC (trafficking of persons) and 370A (exploitation of a trafficked person). Fraudulent agents at any level of the chain take money, sometimes lakhs of rupees in cash, from the candidates and the employers both. “They justify the sum saying that they have to pay the middle man, foreign embassy, foreign employer and also to agencies to arrange a job,” Hubertson says. “When there is an issue between the migrant worker and the foreign employer, the latter says that he has paid such a huge amount of money to the agent, so he will release the migrant worker only if the agent returns the money,” he adds. In this tussle, the migrant worker ends up being trapped in a foreign country without freedom or resources. Flouting documentation norms and immigration Another common strand in stories of most exploited migrant workers is that they are given their documents (visa and passport) at the last minute, which are then immediately taken away by the employer once they reach the destination country. This effectively stops them from one, inspecting if the visa being given to them is for the same work as promised by the agent, and two, leaving the Gulf country if they want. Hubertson elaborates how agents find loopholes in immigration. Taking the example of a migrant worker going to Saudi Arabia for employment, he says, “The agent will provide a worker with a UAE visit visa. Once they reach Dubai, then the agents there will give them the actual Saudi visa. For the Indian government, these people are visiting to the UAE and that’s how the agents get away.” The Kafala system A major hurdle for the workers in accessing their rights in the Gulf is the Kafala system. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the system emerged in the 1950s to regulate the relationship between employers and migrant workers in West Asia. However, the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries have continued with the system in present day as well. Briefly, here’s what the system entails: “Under the Kafala system a migrant worker’s immigration status is legally bound to an individual employer or sponsor (kafeel) for their
news
03-01-2018
UAE topples Saudi Arabia as top draw for Indian job seekers in Gulf
MUMBAI: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has emerged as the leading destination for Indians migrating to the Gulf in search of work, as per immigration clearance data for the first six months of 2017. The UAE has toppled, by a wide margin, Saudi Arabia which used to traditionally lead the pack. Of the total emigration clearance of nearly 1.84 lakh, as many as 74,778 Indians (or 40.6%) obtained immigration clearances for the UAE during January-June this calendar year, while only 32,995 (or 18% ) migrated to Saudi Arabia. Oman came a close third with 30,413 migrants, which is 16.5% of the total Gulf migration. In 2016, Kuwait was the third most popular destination. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is an alliance of six countries: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. The other surprise in store is that Bihar edged Uttar Pradesh to occupy the top slot as the leading source state during the first half of 2017. Bihar contributed 35,807 (or 19.5%) of the total migrants to the Gulf. UP sent 33,043 migrants (or 18%). Contrast this with 2015, when of the total 7.58 lakh Indian migrants to the Gulf, 31% hailed from UP and only 14% from Bihar. Drop in migration from UP to Saudi - The main reason for this shift in ranking is a drastic fall in migration from UP to Saudi Arabia during the first half of 2017. Of the total migrant figure of 3.06 lakh to Saudi Arabia in 2015, 1.28 lakh migrants (or 42%) hailed from UP. The pan-India figure of migrants to Saudi Arabia dipped to 1.65 lakh in 2016 of which 36% were from UP. Between January to June, only 1,179 workers from UP obtained immigration clearance for Saudi Arabia. This works out to a mere 3.57% of the total migration to this country. On the whole, immigration clearance statistics reflect a steady decline in migration to the Gulf, as per the statistics of the ministry of external affairs (MoEA). The pan-India immigration clearance during 2016, of 5.07 lakh, was a decline of 33% as compared to the previous calendar year. While comparative six monthly figures of 2016 are not available, with only 1.84 immigration clearances during the first half of 2017, it shows that the falling trend will continue. Contrary to popular notions, Kerala doesn't occupy the top slot of source states for Gulf bound migration. S Irudaya Rajan, professor at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), who spearheads the annual Kerala Migration Survey, says: "Historically, Kerala was the leading source state for migrants going to the Gulf countries. One out of every five migrants who left India in 2008 was a Keralite. After the global crisis that followed, this is down to one out of twenty in 2016." Kerala occupied eight slot in 2015, with 42,731 migrants (or 5.6%) of the pan- India total. Its eighth position continued in 2016 with 24,962 Keralities migrating to Gulf and its ratio to all-India migration was 4.9%. Kerala's ranking was up to seventh in the first half of 2017, with 8,995 emigration clearances or nearly 5% of the pan-India emigration clearances. Rajan explains: "The wage differential for unskilled labourers between Kerala and Gulf has narrowed, plus savings for Gulf workers are hit by the high cost of living. Keralites are slowly vacating from Gulf and are replaced by people from UP, Bihar, and neighbouring countries such as Nepal and Sri Lanka. Unlike the rest of India, Kerala is experiencing an ageing population-—this too impacts migration." A study done by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2016 illustrates that India has fixed the referral wage for carpenters and masons at Saudi Riyal 1,700 per month, which is 40% and 10% higher than that set by Nepal and Philippines "The higher referral wages may periodically reduce employers' preference for Indian workers. But if this tendency continues for long, it may adversely impact migration outflows from India, which in turn will restrict livelihood options and dampen remittance inflow," the report said.
news
01-01-2018
With 16 million, India tops world in number of migrants abroad
UNITED NATIONS: Indian tops the world in the number of migrants sent abroad and more than half of the 16.59 million live in the Gulf region, according to a UN report. The 2017 International Migration Report released here on Monday showed that during this century's period of rapid globalisation, the number of Indian migrants doubled from 7.98 million in 2000. Mexico sent out 13 million migrants, the second highest number.
news
22-12-2017
In Bangladesh, migrant workers’ dreams end in body bags
Bangladesh received 33,000 bodies of migrant workers since 2005; workload, poor living conditions, heart disease blamed for deaths. The hard-earned money sent home by millions of migrant workers is one of the biggest sources of foreign currency for Bangladesh. Expatriate workers remitted around $14.93 billion last year. As hundreds of thousands leave the country every year to try their luck, thousands also return, albeit in coffins and body bags. Bodies of 33,112 migrant workers have been received between 2005 and November this year, government figures show. But the number of deaths is believed to be higher as many workers are buried abroad. A large number of these deaths are attributed to heart attacks and stroke. Many of the victims are young. As many as 11.39 million Bangladeshis have migrated between 1976 and 2017, according to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET). Dhaka University’s international Relations Professor CR Abrar pointed out that everyone had to take extensive medical tests before they were permitted to work abroad. “This issue cannot be taken lightly,” he said. “We need to investigate and uncover the reasons why they are dying while working abroad even though they were medically fit before leaving the country.” Brac’s Migration Head Shariful Islam Hasan claimed that adverse working environment, excessive workload, poor living conditions, heart attack and stroke caused by mental stress were behind 94% of the migrant deaths. Some others are killed in accidents, commit suicide or are murdered, he added citing data he gathered when working as a reporter. Before going abroad, a person needs to undergo many medical tests to determine whether he or she is suffering from a list of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Gulf Approved Medical Centers Association said an aspirant migrant worker needs to be tested for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, HCV, malaria, tuberculosis, congestive heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, psychiatric diseases, neurological disorders and physical disabilities, among others. In the first 11 months of this year, 3,154 bodies of migrant workers were received, according to Wage Earners Welfare Board (WEWB) of Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment. Shariful claimed that at least eight to 10 bodies were sent to Bangladesh daily. Many workers have been buried abroad after their deaths. One of the unfortunate victims was twenty-six-year-old Delwar Hossain, who went to Malaysia in 2013 to work at a palm oil farm. His employer claimed that he had died of a heart attack on January 29 this year. The pictures provided by Delwar’s employer showed his body lying under the bed. His family members alleged that he had been murdered. “He had some problems with a coworker. The foreman had beaten him several times after refusing to work extra hours. They did not let him eat or sleep properly,” his younger brother Abul Kalam Azad told the Dhaka Tribune. Shafiqul said the government provided Tk35,000 to families of each dead worker when they receive the body in Dhaka. If the worker was legal, the family gets another Tk3 lakh. WEWB Assistant Director (Information and Public Relations) Zahid Anwar said that if family members of a deceased expatriate express doubt about the cause of death and apply for re-autopsy, the board forwards their plea to the concerned Bangladeshi embassy. He, however, did not clarify if Bangladesh accepts, without contest, the cause of death as stated by the employer or what it does if the family’s claim contradicts that of the stated cause. Shafiqul also did not say anything about how the government ascertains the cause of death of migrant workers in cases such as that of Delwar.
news
22-12-2017
Saudi Arabia to host first labor, recruitment conference
RIYADH: The Kingdom will host its first conference and exhibition on recruitment and labor at the Riyadh International Convention Center on April 15-17, 2018. The event will be organized by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and the Diamond Columns Co. Participating organizations include the Saudi Human Rights Commission and the General Directorate of Passports. The Diamond Columns Co., which specializes in organizing exhibitions and conferences, said the event will highlight developments in various Saudi sectors. A large number of recruitment offices and companies accredited in the Saudi labor market have been invited to attend, the company added. The formation of large companies has contributed to raising the efficiency of labor services in the Kingdom, it said. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development is working to support all establishments in the Saudi labor sector to regulate the local market, said spokesman Khaled Abalkhail. (Source : Arab News)
news
07-12-2017
SR100,000 plus 2-year jail for harboring Saudi immigration law violators
A fine of SR100,000 ($26,700) and a maximum of two years’ imprisonment will be imposed on people who harbor violators against the local labor and immigration regulations. The spokesman for Madinah region police, Maj. Hussain Al-Qahtani, made the announcement on Monday during the government’s ongoing campaign on “A Nation without Violators.” He said the campaign in Madinah is being carried out under a joint operation with the participation of representatives from Civil Defense, the Saudi Red Crescent Authority, the Madinah governorate and the department of labor and social development. Al-Qahtani pointed out that the campaign combed neighborhoods and arrested many violators, handing them to the concerned authorities for necessary action. Last week, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development inspectors reported the arrest of 119,850 persons for various violations. On Monday, 325 such violators were arrested in a day in a similar campaign in the capital. The police said that those who flout local regulations and overstay their Umrah and Hajj visas are mainly instrumental in such crimes as thefts, abductions, armed robbery and burglaries. Expatriates have been advised to carry their resident identification and other relevant documents during police inspections.
news
07-12-2017
UN labour body drops case against Qatar over migrant worker rights
The UN's labour agency has dropped a case against Qatar over its treatment of migrant workers, after Doha committed to improving rights for foreigners. The decision by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) spares Qatar an inquiry into its treatment of migrant workers, which had overshadowed the Gulf state's preparations to host the 2022 World Cup. Qatar last month committed to far-reaching reforms, including introducing minimum wage, allowing workers freedom to leave the country and change jobs without their employer's permission. "The ILO welcomes the commitment of Qatar to engage in substantive cooperation with the Organisation for the promotion and protection of workers' rights," said Guy Ryder, ILO's director general. Human rights groups, long critical of Qatar's treatment of its mostly Asian foreign workers, welcomed the agreement but said Doha must now follow up its pledges with firm action. "Around two million workers in all kinds of sectors will now enjoy better protection, including a dispute settlement system, also accessible for the extremely vulnerable domestic workers," Luc Cortebeeck, chair of the ILO governing body, told reporters. Qatar's labour minister Issa bin Saad Al Jafali Al Nuaimi told the ILO forum on Wednesday that the government was working to achieve decent work conditions for domestic and migrant workers and has established committees for labour disputes. "Qatar will remain mindful (about) guaranteeing all rights of workers," he said, adding that Doha is committed to a three-year programme of technical cooperation with the ILO. Qatar has set a new standard for the Gulf States (that) must be followed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where millions of migrant workers are trapped in modern slavery The complaint against Qatar "originated out of a deep concern about exploitation exposing almost two million workers to forced labour," Catelene Passchier, spokeswoman for the workers' group at the ILO governing board, said. "While we welcome and support this agreement between the ILO and Qatar, we emphasise that nice words and good intentions are not sufficient. Implementation of these intentions in law and practice is critical," she said. Since being selected to host the 2022 World Cup in 2010, Qatar has launched massive construction projects and faced huge international pressure to reform its labour laws. In February 2015, Qatar introduced the Wage Protection System, designed to ensure workers receive their salaries electronically, either fortnightly or monthly. Last December, Qatar also announced the end of its much-criticised 'kafala' system, under which all foreign workers needed a local sponsor in order to work, maintain residency, switch jobs or leave the country. Doha's recent reforms could set the precedent for other Gulf nations, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, Sharan Burrow, said, who was once one of the country's sharpest critics. "Qatar has set a new standard for the Gulf states (that) must be followed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where millions of migrant workers are trapped in modern slavery," she said. (Source: The New Arab)
news
05-12-2017
85 inspection teams ensure adherence to Saudization of gold shops
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development said Monday that it has sent 85 inspection teams to different regions of the Kingdom to ensure implementation of Saudization at gold and jewelry shops. This move is supported by “Saudizing regions program” implemented by the ministry in cooperation with the ministries of interior, municipal and rural affairs, trade and investment, regional governorates, national security and the Passport Department. Khalid Aba Al-Khail, spokesman of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, noted that each of the 85 inspection teams has 6 to 7 members from the Ministry of Labor joined by officials from other government departments. The inspection teams tour around commercial centers, malls and public markets and they document violations. Aba Al-Khail called on informing the ministry about any violation by contacting 19911. The aim of the “Saudizing regions program” is to engage young Saudis in the local market and provide them with suitable and stable job environments in addition to encouraging local businesses to implement Saudization. The inspection teams in Makkah conducted 252 tours and documented 22 violations and closed down 37 violating shops. Meanwhile, the initial inspection tours in Madinah have toured around two shopping markets, visited 53 shops, closed down 4 violating shops and specified a fine on one violating shop. In Taif, the inspection teams visited 48 shops 13 of which were violating. In Asir region, inspectors visited 105 shops, 34 of which were closed while 71 were operating. They had 106 employees, 13 graduates and a son of a Saudi woman while no violations were documented. In a previous statement, Aba Al-Khail said they have over 6,000 ministry inspectors who joined the campaign to Saudize gold shops. He noted that they are serious about implementing Saudization in this sector as it will provide between 15,000 and 20,000 jobs to locals noting that expatriates are dominating this sector and are benefiting from its revenues. The official added that they have trained 45,000 Saudis for sales and so they can join the market. Each violation of the Saudization would result in a fine of SR20,000 while any cover-up business will be fined SR1 million. It is anticipated that between 30 to 40% of the shops are closed now in fear of documenting violations.
news
01-12-2017
Saudi Arabia has 11 million foreign workers from more than 100 countries
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is one of the largest labor markets in the world with 11 million foreign workers from more than 100 countries represented in many sectors and fields of work, according to a senior official. Adnan bin Abdullah Al-Naim, undersecretary of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, was addressing Saudi recruiting agents and a 32-member delegation from Colombo at the Council of Saudi Chambers on Tuesday. The Saudi team was headed by Mansour Al-Shathri, chairman of the Saudi Committee for the Labor Market Council of Saudi Chambers. Under Saudi Vision 2030, Al-Naim said that efforts were being aimed at making the labor market more attractive to foreign workers. Al-Naim said that the ministry has been working in coordination with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and other relevant bodies to develop laws that protect the rights of employers and workers and to curtail violations against migrant workers. He also shared details about the MUSANED scheme where foreign recruitments are processed through an electronic platform providing a variety of services, including e-contracting and e-Visas. “The program facilitates recruitment procedures and safeguards the rights of concerned parties,” he said. The undersecretary said that the Saudi labor market is considered the fourth largest in the world, where the number of domestic workers is about 2.3 million workers. Saudi Arabia is an active member of the ILO, he said, and its systems comply with the provisions of the international organization. It is a signatory to several conventions on the protection of workers’ rights as well as the prevention of labor violations, breach of contracts, non-payment of salaries and delayed salaries. Mansour Al-Shathri, chairman of the Saudi Committee for the Labor Market Council of Saudi Chambers, said the meeting comes in the context of reviewing the Saudi labor market regulations to preserve the rights of expatriate workers, improve the working environment and ensure the right relationship between employers and workers within the framework of the bilateral labor agreement. The visiting team was led by Mangala Randeniya, deputy general manager of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE). Sri Lankan Ambassador Azmi Thassim also attended. Hailing the efforts of the Saudi authorities to maintain consistency in managing a large foreign workforce, Ambassador Thassim said that under Saudi Vision 2030 workers’ rights are protected and their interests will be looked after. There are more than 200,000 Sri Lankan domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and half of them are maids, he said.
news
27-11-2017
Sharp drop in new jobs for expatriates
MAKKAH — New job openings for expatriates have dropped by about 161,500 during the second quarter of 2017, Makkah daily said on Tuesday quoting a report by Jadwa Investment Company (JIC). The report said the employment of non-Saudi women has shown a downward trend since the beginning of the year as many expatriates opted to send their families back home following imposition of fees on their dependents. The report said said the employment of Saudis has gone up by 28,900 new jobs consisting of 60 percent men and 40 percent women. The report, covering the conditions of the labor market during the second quarter of the year, expected a re-structural change in the employment of non-Saudis in view of the fees imposed on them since the first of July. It said the rate of unemployment among Saudi youths decreased by about 15.9 percent taking a positive turn. The report noted that many young Saudis usually enter the labor market during the second quarter of the year after graduation from universities. It said as many as 92,3000 young Saudi men and women entered the labor market during the first six months of the year compared to 52,000 during the same period last year. The report, however, said the number of Saudi women entering the labor market dropped by 33,700 representing about five percent. It expected the decision to allow women to drive from June to boost the employment of Saudi women in the labor market and to facilitate the creation of a large number of new jobs. The report said the rate of Saudization of jobs increased from 42.5 percent in the second quarter of 2016 to 43.1 percent in 2017. It attributed the rise in the nationalization of jobs to the fact that a large number of expatriates have opted to leave for their homes following the imposition of dependents fees. Meanwhile, Minister of Labor and Social Development, Ali Al-Ghifais, said the ministry was determined to Saudize all jobs in economic, commercial, industrial and service sectors. «The nationalization of jobs is increasing week after week,» he said in Tabuk after meeting with its Emir Prince Fahd Bin Sultan on Monday. The minister said all job opportunities currently available in all sales points will be filled with young Saudi men and women. «We have already started the third phase of the nationalization of jobs in malls and commercial centers whether closed or open,» he said. Ghifais said about 80 percent of the jobs in the malls and commercial centers have so far been Saudized. He said the ministry is intent on enabling young Saudi men and women to take every available job in the retail, industrial, economic, commercial and service sectors.
news
27-11-2017
No changes in expat dependents fee: Ministry
RIYADH – The Ministry of Finance on Monday denied social media reports about changes in expat dependents fee. "Expatriate dependent fee will remain as was announced earlier. No amendments have been introduced," the ministry said in a statement. The ministry further said that it has not announced any postponement of dependent fee nor did it issue any statements on Monday in this connection, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. The Finance Ministry appealed to all media to follow the official channels in receiving statements and publishing them. They should ask the ministry so as to verify any information that was not announced officially.
news
25-11-2017
Saudi VAT impact: Price hike ‘will push consumers to find ways to save money’
JEDDAH: The introduction of value-added tax (VAT) next year will directly impact the prices of commodities and services, analysts said. “The price increase will reduce the demand for goods, and this will have a negative effect on companies, most of which will likely take several measures to keep their business,” Khalid Al-Zaidi, a financial analyst, told Arab News. He hoped the price rise would not affect the quality of goods and services. “If it happened, it is a negative indication. However, the price hike will push consumers to find ways to save money,” he said. Businesses must register for VAT by the deadline of Dec. 20, and the official introduction starts on Jan 1. Al-Zaidi also said there would be a sharp drop in demand for luxury goods and accessories. He anticipated that companies will be keen to improve their services at competitive prices, especially with the opening of international markets through e-commerce. He stressed that the best service-providers with the lowest costs will succeed in the market, while other businesses will fail. Al-Zaidi, who is also the director of the Jeddah-based Al-Zaidi Financial Education Center, said that it is possible that the government will impose additional taxes on other products or increase VAT from 5 percent. “If the results are found to be supportive to the country’s economy and helps citizens to rationalize their consumption habits, additional taxes will be implemented,” he said. On the up side, Al-Zaidi said that once VAT is imposed on petroleum products, the country will be able to cut domestic consumption of oil products. “This will help Saudi Arabia increase the quantity of its oil reserves and enable it to increase its export of oil to the international market,” he said. He added that this could support its global position as an important player in the oil market. “It will also strengthen its oil pricing policy inside OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries),” he said. Al-Zaidi anticipated that small and medium-sized companies will find it difficult to adapt to VAT, making it difficult to significantly reduce their expenses to survive. As for imposing VAT on private education, Al-Zaidi said that investors in this sector would reduce fees to retain their market share. “Otherwise, their investment would be severely affected,” he said. Khaldoun Khan, the owner of Al-Corniche International School and Al-Faisal International School, told Arab News that students’ guardians would be affected by the decision, and he would not increase registration fees. He said that his schools would lose some students. “Students have started to join state schools due to the decision,” he said. Khan said that he would have another look at the profits and consider providing students with attractive offers to keep his business alive. “Unless the government reviews the decision, many school owners will choose to close their schools,” he said. The General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT) has urged businesses with annual revenues of more than SR1 million ($266,640) to expedite their VAT registration process and ensure their readiness for its implementation. More than 60,000 businesses have registered for VAT since registration started on Aug. 28, 2017. Businesses that fail to register in time will face fines of up to SR10,000 and the suspension of several critical government services, including issuing work permits, changing business activity, issuing visas, transferring workers’ sponsorship and other services provided by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Saudi Customs and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency. The GAZT confirmed that VAT will be implemented on Jan. 1 next year, and that all eligible businesses must be ready and aware of its laws, regulations and requirements — available on the VAT website vat.gov.sa. The GAZT first imposed a selective tax on energy drinks, cigarettes and soda drinks. It also increased the visit visa fee, exit re-entry fee and dependent fee for expatriates.
news
24-11-2017
1,120 expats quit jobs daily: GOSI
RIYADH — As many as 302,473 expatriates have left the labor market from the beginning of 2017 until September at a daily average of 1,120 employees, Al-Watan Arabic newspaper reported on Monday quoting figures released by the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI). GOSI said that about 500,000 Saudis have left the private sector at a daily average of 1,881 employees. According to the figures, as many as 3,001 Saudis and expatriates daily quit the labor market. GOSI said 514,860 Saudi women entered the labor market by the end of September compared to 505,185 women during the same time last year. It said the number of the non-Saudi males and females participating in the organization came down to 8.2 million by the end of September from 8.5 million in 2016. It said the number of the Saudi men and women participating in the organization has increased to 1.89 million this year from 1.87 million the previous year. New job openings for expatriates dropped by about 161,500 during the second quarter of 2017, Makkah Arabic newspaper said last Tuesday quoting a report by Jadwa Investment Company (JIC). The report said the employment of Saudis has gone up by 28,900 new jobs consisting of 60 percent men and 40 percent women. The report, covering the conditions of the labor market during the second quarter of the year, expected a re-structural change in the employment of non-Saudis in view of dependent fees imposed on them since July 1. It said the rate of unemployment among Saudi youths decreased by about 15.9 percent taking a positive turn. The report said as many as 92,3000 young Saudi men and women entered the labor market during the first six months of the year compared to 52,000 during the same period last year.
news
23-11-2017
Will expat dependents fees be postponed?
In an interview with Al-Arabiya TV Channel, which was published by Okaz newspaper, Finance Minister Muhammad Al-Jadaan stressed that government senior specialists and economic experts have agreed that it was possible to extend the period of some reforms by up to 3, 4 or 5 years, if needed, whether such reforms are related to energy prices or something else. The government will announce the types of reforms whose period will be extended. Al-Jadaan also said that instead of implementing 50 to 100 percent of the reforms within a certain period of time, it was possible to postpone the implementation for up to a year or two years, especially in light of the Kingdom’s borrowing capacity. It is not important to achieve fiscal balance by 2019 or 2020 as much as it is important to achieve medium-term development and growth, he said. The Kingdom possesses strong credit capacity that has enabled it to lower borrowing rates. Moreover, it has sufficient reserve to support the economy and the riyal as a currency. The Ministry of Finance takes these factors into consideration and works to handle any case that might arise; therefore, the aforementioned extension decision would not have a strong impact on the budget as the extra expenditure would be covered by the amounts generated from the rationalized government spending. Al-Jadaan revealed that the government would allocate SR 20 billion to stimulate the private sector up to 2020, noting that SR 15 billion has been allocated to housing to date along with SR 25 billion to the Industrial Development Fund. To reconsider a decision previously issued is one of the traits of any successful leader who cares about the greater interest of the general public. Therefore, the Finance Minister’s statements indicating the possibility of postponing the achievement of some objectives by two or three years was a sound and wise decision, which better serves the public interest. The minister clearly emphasized that the Kingdom enjoys strong credential capacity and possesses reserves that support the economy and development objectives. That is why the ministry has approved large amounts as stimulants for private sector, housing and industrial development. This shows clearly that the ministry realizes that the national economy is in need of stimulants so that it does not suffer from stagnation. Some reports in the media had claimed that the Ministry of Finance had suspended the regulation requiring expatriates to pay a yearly fee for each of their dependents. Expatriate workers were happy when this “news” came out; however, the minister quickly denied such claims and stated that the fees had not been suspended. I am sure that the minister is fully aware of the negative consequences resulting from imposing fees on the dependents of expatriates. Many expatriate workers sent their family members home and moved to smaller places or shared rooms with compatriots in order to pay less money for rent. This has resulted in a surplus of unoccupied apartments. Many buildings now have “For Rent” signs and this can be seen everywhere. Many expatriate workers who left the Kingdom for good could not afford the dependents’ fees either because their monthly pay was low or they had several dependents. Some expatriate workers decided to stay in the Kingdom for this year as they can afford the SR100 fee for each dependent. But what about next year? The fee will increase to SR200 in the second year, SR300 in the third, and SR400 in the fourth for each dependent. In fact, many expatriate workers will have to send their family home because of these fees. Economically speaking, the fees will have a negative impact on the real estate sector. An expatriate worker living with his family in the Kingdom usually spent between 70 to 80 percent of his income inside the Kingdom and transferred the remaining amount to his homeland. Now, the opposite will happen; he will transfer most of his money home and spend a little in the Kingdom. The productivity level of an expatriate worker will also be affected because he lives away from his family. Perhaps the economic experts who advised the minister to extend the period of some reforms had plans to reconsider the fees on the dependents of expatriate workers, which do not exist in any other country. Perhaps they realized the negative impact of such fees on expatriate workers and the national economy. We should not overlook the psychological and human
news
23-11-2017
Public holidays for private sector announced
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has announced the public holidays to mark the Prophet Mohammad's (PBUH) birthday, National Day, and Commemoration Day, for employees in the private sector, from Thursday, 30th November, until Saturday, 2nd December. Work should resume on Sunday, 3rd December, according to a ministerial circular issued by Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation. Al Hamli extended his greetings on the occasions to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. He also took the opportunity to congratulate the government and people of the UAE, as well as expatriate residents, on the occasion, and wished further progress, prosperity and glory to the UAE and to Arab and Islamic nations.
news
07-11-2017
No changes in expat dependents fee: Ministry
RIYADH – The Ministry of Finance on Monday denied social media reports about changes in expat dependents fee. "Expatriate dependent fee will remain as was announced earlier. No amendments have been introduced," the ministry said in a statement. The ministry further said that it has not announced any postponement of dependent fee nor did it issue any statements on Monday in this connection, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. The Finance Ministry appealed to all media to follow the official channels in receiving statements and publishing them. They should ask the ministry so as to verify any information that was not announced officially.
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24-10-2017
Women demand employment rights
JEDDAH — Many female employees are complaining about low salaries and transportation allowance as the third phase of feminizing women accessory shops and stores began on Saturday. Amani, who works at a women accessory retail store, said she gets only SR500 a month as transportation allowance while she has to pay SR1,400 a month to commute from home to workplace. “Transportation is the biggest obstacle for working women. We have to spend a huge portion of our salary on it,” said Amani. Nourah Mohammad said she often has to leave her job in order to stay home with her infant daughter. “Nurseries and daycares cost SR1,200 a month in addition to the transportation expenses. If I work, I have to pay for my daughter’s daycare which costs me more than I can afford. But if I stay home with my daughter I can’t make any money,” said Mohammad. Manal Al-Jehani, working at a women retail store in Madinah, said when she signed her employment contract there was no mention of transportation allowance in it. “The contract only covered the basic salary, social insurance and the job description. I was not aware of my rights as an employee,” said Al-Jehani. Israa Al-Ahmadi, employee at a private store, said her employer did not have her sign any contract. “I just began working there and I was told that the salary for a night shift is SR1,800. When I checked my social insurance account I found out that my salary was supposed to be SR3,000,” said Al-Ahmadi. Abrar Al-Jehani said she saw an advertisement for a job at a retail store that sells abayas, evening dresses and perfumes. “The new contract enlists that all women employees will have transportation arranged for them as long as they are registered through the Taqat program. There are employees at the store that have been working there for over a year and they were not able to have this service due to the fact that they are not registered on the Tagat program,” said Al-Jehani. Human Resources Expert Waad Al-Aboud said many women are ignorant about their rights under Labor Law. “The Labor Office should take a proactive role in creating awareness about employees’ rights and responsibilities. The Labor Office should simplify its laws and use infographics and short videos to create awareness through social media,” said Al-Aboud. The third phase of feminization targets shops selling ladies perfumes, shoes, bags, stockings and ready-made garments. Kiosks selling women accessories will also be fully feminized in addition to sections in malls and supermarkets which sell clothes and other women accessories. The phase also includes independent small shops which sell wedding dresses, abayas, garments, child-care and other accessories. Pharmacies in malls which sell cosmetics and make-up accessories will also be feminized.
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24-10-2017
Work visa validity reduced to one year
Jeddah — The validity of employment visas issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) for the private sector firms has been reduced from two years to one year. But this will not be applicable to visas issued for government services as well as for domestic workers, according to an order issued by Minister of Labor and Social Development Dr. Ali Al-Ghafis. The decision was taken on the basis of Article 11 of the Labor Law under which the minister can take the procedures that are deemed necessary for improving the efficiency of the employment market. The ministry has started implementing the decision of the minister, the Saudi Press Agency reported. On Sunday, the minister issued another order allowing foreign mothers of Saudis as well as non-Saudi children of Saudi women to work in those professions which are restricted only to Saudi nationals. Employing anyone in this category will be counted as one Saudi employee while calculating the percentage of Nitaqat Saudization program. Both Saudis and expatriates welcomed the decision. Mohammad Al-Owain, a media person, described it a “right decision.” This decision offers a decent life to those families which have been living in the Kingdom for decades years, he said. Shadia Al-Ghamdi, a Saudi woman, noted that any company that refuses to employ foreign mothers of Saudi children or non-Saudi children of Saudi women should be fined. Mohammad Al-Saad hoped individuals included in this decision will be offered nationality soon. Abdul Aziz Al-Nigamshi said non-Saudi children of female citizens should also be considered as Saudi nationals. However, some people said that non-Saudi children of Saudi women should not be given citizenship. Nawal Al-Shihri said that many expatriates tend to marry Saudi women just for the sake of benefiting from them. Therefore, she is against giving citizenship to non-Saudi husbands and children of Saudi women. Karim ibn Saleh said that Saudi woman who accepts a foreigner as her husband forfeits her right to seek citizenship for her children. Maha, daughter of a Saudi mother, asked: “Why do you offer nationality to non-Saudi children of Saudi men but not to children of Saudi women?” Three Shoura Council members — Latifa Al-Shalan, Haia Al-Munai and Ata Al-Sabti — have presented a recommendation to modify the nationality system to allow non-Saudi children of Saudis to obtain citizenship.
news
09-10-2017
Saudi Aramco expands in India
NEW DELHI — Saudi Aramco launched a new Indian venture near New Delhi, a government statement said on Sunday, as the global oil exporter looks to tap rising demand and invest in the world's third-biggest consumer. India's Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who jointly inaugurated the local unit with Aramco Chief Executive Amin Nasser, said the move would help pave the way for "a strategic partnership in the hydrocarbon sector" between the two nations. Saudi Aramco through its subsidiary Aramco Asia India (AAI) established its formal business presence in India last year, the statement said. Aramco is investing in refineries in major markets to lock in customers ahead of its initial public offering next year, and the India business, on top of sales, will look for opportunities to take stakes in refining and petrochemical projects in the country. Saudi Arabia is India's top oil supplier for a fifth month in a row in August, data compiled by Reuters showed, displacing Iraq. Nasser is in New Delhi to attend the IHS-CERA conference, which starts on Sunday, which will also be attended by OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo. — Reuters
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20-09-2017
Arab ambassadors cancel event at Labor Party Conference
LONDON – The Arab League has cancelled its annual reception and buffet dinner, which was due to be held during the Labor Party Conference in Brighton on Sept. 26. “Our Council has decided to refrain from attending the Labor Party Conference this year due to the rejection of both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s and the Republic of Sudan’s applications to attend the conference,” the London office of the Arab League said in a letter sent to all MPs of the Labor Party and other parties last Wednesday. The British media described this act as a humiliation to the Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is hostile to Saudi Arabia. “Unfortunately, the Council of Arab Ambassadors has taken the decision to cancel its annual reception and buffet dinner,” the letter read. The British newspaper The Sun said in its report that Jeremy Corbyn faced humiliation after it emerged that the League of Arab States will boycott Labor party conference later this month. The Sun revealed earlier this month that members of Corbyn’s frontbench will attend a “Venezuela Solidarity Campaign” event at Labor conference - hosted by the country’s ambassador Rocio Manerio - despite the brutal clampdown on opposition parties inflicted by the Venezuelan tyrant Nicolas Maduro. But Corbyn has faced criticism for his failure to condemn the Venezuelan regime following President Maduro’s bloody suppression of protests and his appearance at the conference rally supporting the regime is likely to reignite the row.
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15-09-2017
Human rights meetings expose Qatar’s violations
GENEVA — A joint delegation from the Arab Federation for Human Rights (AFHR) in Britain and the Global Campaign against Qatar’s Financing of Terrorism held a number of meetings on the sidelines of the 36th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The joint delegation included the head of the AFHR in UK Abdulrahman Nofal Reyes, Ayman Al-Sabbagh and Iskandar Lomika from the board of directors of the Global Campaign against the Qatari Financing of Terrorism, along with a number of international human rights organizations. The meetings focused on the major types of violations practiced by the regime in Doha, despite the lies by the foreign minister of Qatar with regards the status of human rights in Qatar. The delegation noted that Qatar dedicates millions of dollars to human rights organizations to burnish its biased image. The delegation also reviewed the issue of detentions in Qatar, especially the case of pilgrims who returned from Saudi Arabia after performing Haj, the revocation of nationalities of some Qatari families, and the ill-treatment of foreign workers with regards to unequal pay. The meetings emphasized various evidences that Qatar is funding terrorist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Daesh (so-called IS) and other terrorist groups. The joint delegation called on the international human rights organizations and personalities to take into consideration these findings to stop the Qatari regime’s violations. The delegation highlighted the lies by Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani during his speech Thursday at the opening of the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council here. — SG
news
08-09-2017
308,000 Saudi private sector workers injured over 5 years, 92% foreigners
RIYADH: In the past five years, 307,855 workers in the private sector were injured as they were doing their jobs, 92 percent of whom were foreigners. According to government reports reviewed by Aleqtesadiah daily, 54 percent of these injuries occurred in Riyadh, Makkah and Dammam, with the construction industry alone accounting for 46 percent of the overall injuries during the past five years. In 2016, the number of injured workers decreased by 20 percent with 53,404 injuries against 67,087 injuries in 2015; 69,241 injuries in 2014; 52,467 injuries in 2013; and 65,656 injuries in 2012. Occupational hazard coverage of the Social Security System is applied to all Saudi and non-Saudi workers in the private sector, without distinction of age or gender. Employers pay the monthly insurance premium and cover all expenses for injuries that workers sustain during work in the workplace, on their way from home or to work, and occupational diseases. The Social Security System also covers enrollees whose salaries have dropped by 10 percent or more in their last years of work before retirement. In this case, special provisions apply to adjust the average monthly earnings used to calculate benefits. In this exceptional case, the Social Security System calculates the average wage during the past two years (after the salary dropped) and the wage average before this period (before the salary dropped). The final retirement pension is the average of the salaries in these two independent periods. In normal cases, the retirement pension is the average salary of the two years prior to retirement. These laws are issued in order to preserve the rights of the enrollees and protect them from any consequences caused by a salary decrease during their last two years of work.
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07-09-2017
Saudi Labor Ministry: Number of women working in retail reaches 200,000
JEDDAH: A report released by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development in revealed that the number of Saudi female workers in the retail sector reached about 200,000, despite the difficulties facing the Saudization of the female workforce in this sector since 2011. Faten Al-Sari, acting head of the women’s employment policy and programs at the Labor Ministry, said that the ministry is trying to solve the problem of transportation facing working women. Al-Sari noted that 400 vouchers have been distributed to test the possibility of using smart technology offered by Uber and Careem car transportation companies. She also said the ministry hoped to increase the number of women benefiting from this new technology to 150,000 by 2020. Dr. Al-Sari stressed the importance of the decisions regarding the Saudization of women’s jobs in the labor market since 2011, and said that the third phase of this program would start within weeks.
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29-08-2017
Saudi Labor Ministry sets conditions for recruitment of house workers
IYADH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has approved a set of conditions for those who wish to hire house workers, be they citizens or residents. One of the major conditions is that a married citizen should have at least a balance of SR35,000 ($9,333) in his bank account while salaries of residents should not be less than SR10,000 to recruit house workers or drivers. Based on regulations for granting visas for house workers’ recruitment, the Ministry of Labor has the right to verify the financial position of an applicant to approve or reject, accordingly, the ministry said. The ministry may give the applicant additional visas (two visas maximum) if the contract of the house workers is 18 months or over with the applicant. Applicants of five-year cards will be treated in accordance with conditions set for Saudi individuals. On the other hand, the maximum number of visas for a married Saudi citizen is three, including one male house worker. Other categories of jobs allowed for house worker recruitment are female house worker; male house worker; private driver; baby sitter; male cook; female cook; waiter; male nurse and female nurse. Additionally, financial ability of not less than SR5,000 should be ensured on the first visa with a bank balance of SR35,000 which could reach up to SR500,000 on the fifth visa. The ministry also allowed male and married female residents with salaries above SR10,000 to recruit two house workers under their sponsorship. However, for a bachelor, one house worker may be recruited. Job categories in this case are female house workers, private drivers or baby sitters. The number of recruitment offices registered with the house worker program (Musanid), one of the ministry’s initiatives, stands at 605, while the number of beneficiaries from the Musanid portal stands at 61,411.
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26-08-2017
Qatar approves new law to protect domestic staff Workers will be able to limit their services to 10 hours a day, work six days a week and be entitled to annual holiday.
Qatar has introduced a new law that will provide legal protection for domestic workers, giving them more rights and control over their contracts. The "Domestic Employment Law" specifies that staff such as drivers, gardeners and nannies will now be able to limit their services to 10 hours a day, work six days a week and be entitled to an annual holiday. They will also be given paid sick leaves and guaranteed breaks for meals and worship. Previously, domestic workers were not covered by Qatar's labour laws, meaning they had limited protection in legal disputes with their employers. Once the new law takes effect, domestic staff will be able to sign a legal employment contract with their employers. They will also get end-of-service benefits equal to a minimum of three weeks wages for each year of service when their contract ends. Recent estimates put the number of domestic workers affected by the new legislation between 200,000-300,000 workers. The law was signed on Tuesday by Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. It follows last year's changes in the law that regulated and streamlined the residencies of all categories of workers in Qatar in terms of their entry and exit of the country. Saad Sultan al-Abdulla, director of international cooperation at Qatar's National Human Rights Committee, welcomed the law, saying it was in line with international labour agreements and human rights conventions. "For sure, this law is progressive and goes along the way toward more reform that will protect the rights and interests of people working in Qatar," he added. Out of a total population of 2.7 million, an estimated 1.9 million people in Qatar are low-skilled workers who work in construction and other jobs.
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23-08-2017
Firing of Saudis: Telecom firm earns ministry wrath
JEDDAH — A telecommunication company has earned the wrath of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development for en-masse firing of its Saudi staff. The ministry has ceased the services of the company after its decision to sack the Saudi employees created an uproar on the social media, Makkah daily reported on Tuesday. Ministry spokesman Khalid Abalkhail announced through the ministry’s Twitter account that the ministry has stopped the services of the company and has opened an investigation into the incident. Legal consultant and King Abdulaziz University faculty member Omar Al-Khouli said there has been a wave of mass termination of Saudi employees recently. “The latest amendment to the Saudi Labor Law (Article 77) facilitated the companies to fire Saudi employees. The law has been safeguarding the interests of Saudi employees for the past 40 years. However, the latest amendment has tipped the balance in favor of the employer. The amendment has caused a ruckus over the past few weeks,” said Al-Khouli. He added the ministry has turned a blind eye on the firing of Saudi employees by several companies. “The Saudi market is undergoing a correctional period. Companies do have a right to fire and employ the right people but their actions and decisions should be sensible. The ground for firing employees should not be based on their nationality or race,” said Al-Khouli. He added that under the current labor law all terminated Saudi employees have no recourse but to get their end of service benefits. “They have no prospect of retrieving their jobs. They just have to begin seeking for a different job.” Media reports say claim that the Shoura (Consultative) Council is to discuss introducing some amendments into the labor law particularly Article 77. Abdullah Al-Fouzan, chairman of the council’s committee on social affairs, family and youth, was quoted as saying that said the council and the Ministry of Labor and Social Development were working together to make the amendments which will specifically include the controversial article which enables owners of private establishments and companies to fire Saudi citizens. He said the committee held a number of meetings with officials from the ministry, experts and the concerned authorities to contain the adverse effects of some articles in the labor law from which the workers may suffer.
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21-08-2017
Public sector contractors exempt from workers’ tax
RIYADH — The Council of Ministers has announced that contractors working on public sector projects before the decision to impose workers’ tax are exempt from paying the levy. All contractors working on public sector projects that began before the decision was issued in December 2016 will be exempt from expatriate workers’ tax. The exempted contractors include those who are currently working on projects scheduled to be completed after 2018, Al-Watan Arabic daily said. A committee will be formed to set procedures for compensating projects that have been hindered due to the decision. The exemption was decided after the Council of Saudi Chambers approached Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense and head of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA). The Council of Saudi Chambers requested the Crown Prince for a review of the proposed expatriate workers’ tax. It argued that the decision could disrupt the workflow and seriously affect the budget of the project. The council further argued that because of the cash crunch, the contractors may not be able to pay wages to their workers which could impede the flow of work. It said the same was the case when new fees was levied on the issuance and renewal of operation licenses. Such inconveniences could hinder the project from achieving the goals of Vision 2030, the council petitioned. Public sector projects usually take 3 to 5 years to complete. Companies plan their budget per project and the budget is usually meticulous and accurate from calculating the expenses of the materials to calculating the salaries of the workers. Any additional expenses could be detrimental to the sustainability of the project, the council said. The Council of Saudi Chambers also requested to allow hiring of expatriate workers in fields where qualified Saudis are not available. Such fields include cleaning works, sewer work and others. The CEDA forwarded the proposal to the Cabinet and urged a reply to the proposal within 60 days. The Cabinet held a meeting with its Commission of Experts and the latter approved the proposal after studying its feasibility.
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21-08-2017
Expats occupy over 10m jobs
DAMMAM — Foreign workers in the Kingdom compose a large portion of the workforce as according to well-informed sources Indians, Pakistanis, Egyptians, Yemenis and Bengalis occupy more than 10 million jobs. There are 3 million Indians, 2.5 million Pakistanis, 2.2 million Egyptians, 1.4 million Yemenis and 1.2 Bengalis in the Kingdom, i.e. 10.3 million in total, sources said. Labor force survey results showed that the number of non-Saudi employed persons for the first quarter (Q1) of 2017 reached 10,850,192 while the total number of employed persons reached 13,889,137. The latest figures have led to renewed widespread calls by specialists to cut the number of foreigners in Saudi Arabia by getting rid of at least half of the expatriates in the Kingdom. Furthermore, they also called for restricting recruitment of expatriate workers to occupations that Saudis do not work in as well as those that need highly skilled people and there are no Saudi specialists in such fields. Authorities have taken umpteen measures to reduce dependence on expatriate workers in several fields. From time to time, they have included new domains under the Nitaqat nationalization scheme. These include disability centers, strategic partnership institutes, health colleges, female services, children’s hospitality centers, female cosmetic centers, female sewing centers, the construction sector involved in projects at the Two Holy Mosques, gas stations and the pilgrims’ transportation sector. Several newly included categories, such as photography shops and women’s sports centers, are highly dependent on a female workforce. In addition, levying of the expat fee which became effective in July this year, has forced many foreigners to pack up and go back to their countries. The government hopes that the resultant vacancies in the job market will be filled by young Saudis of both genders.
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19-08-2017
Saudi Labor Ministry declares war on corruption in private sector
JEDDAH: In a move which is considered as a “declaration of war” on corruption in the private sector, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development called upon companies to adopt a firm policy against bribery, bad “business facilitators” and any misconduct which may violate work ethics. The ministry also requested that the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) yesterday start implementing Cabinet Decision No. 111,053 of Aug. 8, which obliges companies and institutions to prepare special work ethic guides, similar to the ministry’s own guide which defines unacceptable practices in the work place, mainly bribery, accepting gifts, and all forms of corruption. The ministry’s guide considers bribery to be one the major crimes that could lead to social corruption, and harm national interests and social development. It also maintains that Islamic law prohibits such conduct. Moreover, the ministry’s guide stresses the importance of familiarizing the labor force with the consequences of the crime of bribery, which may entail severe punishment under Saudi law. The ministry also warned against the collection of donations in the work place because “Saudi regulations only allow certain licensed entities to collect donations.”
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18-08-2017
Online registration for VAT effective mid-September
An online registration on tax purposes for businesses will be open effective mid-September 2017, according to the Federal Tax Authority, FTA, with an integrated system to be provided to serve the business sectors as per the highest international standards. This marks a major step underlining the UAE’s leading position in the application of a world-class tax system, FTA announced Tuesday. The announcement was made at a media briefing by the FTA to familiarise them on all aspects of the FTA's work and the functions it will undertake in the coming period. The FTA also briefed media on the implications of the tax procedures for boosting the momentum of the UAE's sustainable economic development, building the future economy and continuing to provide high quality services. Khalid Ali Al Bustani, Director General of FTA, said: "The UAE has reached a very advanced stage regarding the legislative aspects of the tax system that is among the best in the world. Through the Ministry of Finance, which is authorised to issue tax legislation and policies, the Tax Procedures Law was issued earlier, to govern the relationship between the FTA and the taxable persons." "The Excise Tax and VAT Laws are expected to be issued during the third quarter of this year and the regulations concerning both laws in addition to the Federal Tax procedures are expected to be issued during the fourth quarter of 2017," he added. "Tax laws and procedures in the UAE are simple and easy to comply with, and were developed based on in-depth studies of all options and reviewing various international practices. The Tax Procedure Law is a legislative framework that defines the FTA’s system of work regarding the management, collection and implementation of federal taxes, and contributes to the promotion of the principles of governance and transparency in all tax transactions." "We have achieved important milestones in implementing the highest and best international standards. We have introduced an integrated tax management system that forms an electronic platform for registration, submission of tax returns and tax payable owed by the taxable persons. Further, we have developed innovative systems and integrated them with concerned departments/entities in Emirates governments such as customs’ departments for the purpose of managing and collecting taxes on import." He explained that the application of the tax system will not affect the country’s competitiveness because it is among the lowest in the world, and it will also support efforts towards enhanced services and help achieve the highest levels of happiness for all members of the UAE community. The taxes will be self-compliant and voluntary for business sectors, with swift taxation procedures that are electronic, fully automated and in accordance with the highest international standards. "The tax laws and procedures will strengthen the UAE's economic development and enable it to be a real competitor among the world's advanced economies. This will be led by providing resources to support the expansion of key sectors that are related to the community, and providing the best services, especially in the fields of healthcare and education, and infrastructure projects," he added. Al Bustani noted that the registration processes will begin first with blue-chip companies, as well as companies that produce and import excise goods, where further details will be provided in a later stage. The registration processes will be conducted through e-Services on the FTA’s website, which will be launched in the second half of this month (August) and will provide services 24 x 7, and will offer all the relevant information on the UAE taxes. "As part of the FTA’s procedures, we are committed to provide business sectors with the best services and a suitable and advanced environment to register their businesses in an easy and convenient manner. Businesses can register via our website to ensure their readiness at the time of issuance of the VAT and Excise Tax laws and their regulations. After this, details about the tax period, submissions of tax returns and tax payable will be announced." Al Bustani explained. "Through our efforts and strategic partnerships, the FTA seeks to provide the best services that will help the business sector to prepare early for VAT and excise tax implementation. Businesses can register via our website to ensure their readiness at the time of issuance of the VAT a
news
17-08-2017
16-day Eid holiday for govt staff
RIYADH — The Ministry of Civil Service announced a 16-day holiday for Eid Al-Adha for government employees during this year. The holidays will begin at the end of the working day on Thursday, Aug. 24 (Dhul Hijjah 2) and will end on Saturday, Sept. 9 (Dhul Hijjah 15). Sunday, Sept. 10 will be the first working day after the holidays. According to Article IV of the ministry’s bylaw for holidays, the Eid Al-Adha holidays usually start from Dhul Hijjah 5 and end on Dhul Hijjah 15. On the basis of this, the Eid holidays were supposed to begin on Sunday, Aug. 27. But Article VII of the bylaw stipulates that if one working day falls in between two holidays, that day will be deemed as a holiday, the ministry said. — SPA
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16-08-2017
Midday work stoppage compliance hits 99.7%
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has announced 99.73 percent compliance for the midday break shown by 53,569 companies from June 15th to date. Speaking on the occasion, Maher Al-Obed, Assistant Under-Secretary for Inspections, said, "The midday break, which enters its 13th successive year, is aimed at pushing health and safety precautions to the highest limits. Temperatures are unbearable during summer times in the UAE, and workers need the break." "Records were gathered during company visits across the UAE by inspectors in 18 teams, "We carried out 53,712 inspection visits during the past two months across the UAE, and 9,324 advisory visits during the same period. "There were 13,375 inspection visits in the capital, Abu Dhabi, 11,022 in Dubai, 5,073 visits in Sharjah, 8,047 visits in Ajman, 5,687 visits in Ras al-Khaimah, 2,728 visits in Umm Al Qaiwain and 7,780 visits in Fujairah," Al-Obed added. The ministry said that daily working hours must not exceed eight hours for the morning or night shift, and overtime must be paid to those working additional hours as decreed by Federal Law No. 08 of 1980 on Labour Affairs.
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10-08-2017
University jobs for expats only in absence of Saudis
RIYADH — Expatriates will no longer be hired in the academic faculties of government universities unless there are no qualified Saudis to take up the job. The Ministry of Education said in a statement on Wednesday that the universities shall advertise in the local newspapers and university websites about the availability of these jobs for qualified Saudis. The universities should also contact the Ministry of Civil Service to ensure that there are no qualified Saudi jobseekers in the specified specialization on its employment waiting list. The ministry noted that the regulations and instructions stipulate the necessity of ascertaining the actual need for hiring non-Saudis in specialties after carrying out these procedures, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Mubarak Al-Osaimi, spokesman of the ministry, said that the Saudi universities have active programs to deputize lecturers to the world-class universities to pursue specialized studies so as to qualify them to take up jobs of academic faculty members in the universities in future. He pointed out that hiring of non-Saudis as faculty members is on a temporary basis until the return of these graduates. This will be for a period of one year that is renewable. The universities can dispense with these expatriates if they do not want to renew their contracts.
news
07-08-2017
No increase in expat work permit fee: Ministry
JEDDAH – The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has refuted rumors that it has increased the work permit fee for expatriates. The ministry stressed that any decision by the ministry in this regard will be announced officially. The ministry is scheduled to implement the new Saudization percentages in Nitaqat program as of Sept. 3, 2017 (Dhul Hijja 12, 1438H). The Labor Ministry had started on Nov. 15, 2012 (Muharram 1, 1434H) implementing the decision to increase the fee on expatriates and started collecting SR200 per month, reaching SR2,400 per year on all private sector companies where the number of expatriate workers is more than that of Saudis, Okaz Arabic daily said. The ministry also denied any increase in the fees for issuance of visas for domestic workers. It said that the services for issuance of domestic workers’ visas can be obtained from the Individuals Recruitment (Istiqdam) administrations Kingdomwide. Inspectors uncover about 53,000 violations The ministry also announced that its inspection campaigns uncovered ‫52,89‬8 labor violations in various parts of the Kingdom.‬ These violations were detected after labor inspectors conducted a total of ‫141,82‬7 visits to private sector establishments during the period from the beginning of the Hijri year 1438 (Oct. 2, 2016) till the end of Shawwal (July 23).‬ Ministry spokesman Khaled Abalkhail said inspection campaigns will continue in all Saudi regions with the help from related government entities. He said these campaigns are meant to ensure implementation of labor laws, detect violations and impose penalties on erring workers and employers. The inspections, he said, show the ministry’s keenness to make sure all parties comply with the labor decisions aiming to regulate the labor market, as well as protect law-abiding employers and stakeholders. To report about any violation or make inquiries about any labor decisions, the spokesman called upon customers to contact the ministry via phone No. 19911 or with the help of ‘Ma3an lil Rasd’ app that can be downloaded on mobile phones.
news
05-08-2017
Employment of runaway domestic servants is a crime
SAUDI authorities continue to exert painstaking efforts to prevent the employment of runaway domestic servants and punish the violators and anyone who takes advantage of the servants for illegal purposes. Frequently, the authorities want the general public not to hire runaway domestic servants whose services are promoted over the social media websites, Al-Riyadh daily reported. Runaway domestic servants such as housemaids live in most of the densely-populated shanty neighborhoods, south of Riyadh. For example, Al-Jaradiyah neighborhood, southwest of Riyadh, has a lot of runaway expatriate workers who can be seen walking on streets searching for random jobs. Runaway housemaids, from different nationalities like Ethiopia, Senegal etc., can be found here too. They usually charge SR30 an hour and SR1,700 a month and do not have any ID documents. Al-Shemaisi neighborhood and Al-Sebala neighborhood, both located southwest of Riyadh, are also full of expatriate workers and domestic servants who have run away from work and do not have any IDs. Some housemaids charge as much as SR2,200 a month. The old Umm Al-Hammam neighborhood, northwest Riyadh, too has a lot of expatriate workers who have run away from their sponsors. In fact, some of the expatriate workers, who work legally for their sponsors, also work as brokers who can provide illegal runaway housemaids for a certain commission. Different dangers Saad Al-Baddah, CEO of Saudi Recruitment Company, urged all Saudis to think twice before hiring a runaway driver or housemaid because this action can lead to harsh legal consequences. “Saudis should know that most of the runaway expatriate workers end up being run by gangs. It is extremely dangerous to hire a runaway housemaid and bring her into your home. In fact, some of them suffer from dangerous diseases and have not had regular medical checkups." "Besides, most of them tend to steal stuff like money and jewelry from the place they work in. Next time a Saudi wants to hire one of these runaway housemaids, he or she needs to think twice because there will be severe legal consequences if the housemaid dies suddenly inside the house. The Ministry of Labor takes these violations very seriously and imposes harsh penalties on anyone who hires those housemaid,” he explained. He called upon Saudis who use the services of runaway domestics to stop engaging in this practice and play a more active role as citizens. Instead, they should report runaway housemaids to authorities. He said it is the embassy, which should pay the travel ticket expenses for the runaway housemaid, not the Saudi family. Lt. Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub, spokesman for Passport Directorate, stresses that passport officers are no longer responsible for tracking down illegal expatriate workers. All violators of the residency permit regulations will be referred to pertinent investigation units within the Directorate and the back again to specialized administrative committees for more investigations. It is these committees which decide if a person is guilty or not of violating the residency regulations. If guilty, the violator will be referred to the Deportation Unit where his fingerprints will be taken before being deported to his country. Mishal Al-Rebai’an, Ministry of Health spokesman, emphasized that government-run hospitals only admit housemaids who have a legal residency status and legal ID documents, noting that life-saving cases are an exception.
news
03-08-2017
Tourism festival offers lucrative employment opportunities for young people
MADINAH — Young people are keen to catch up on seasonal employment opportunities through participation in many activities. The most important of these was the preparation of popular dishes for visitors. The regions of Saudi Arabia hosted 820 activities organized and supervised by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH). Some of them have been launched since the beginning of the summer vacation, and through more than 100 tourist festivals that reflected the special features of each region and in different styles. Al-Madnia Arabic newspaper met with a number of young people who participated in the preparation of the popular meals. This was highlighted in the recently-held Souk Okaz (Okaz market), and they stressed their determination to participate in the upcoming festivals. Osama Mahfouz, who prepares of "Bir Al-Majrafa" during the Okaz market, said that the summer festivals are a great opportunity to attract young men and women to cook popular dishes. These foods recorded a jump in the demand among young people looking for work during the period of the Okaz market. Cooking popular dishes is a great skill that many possess, especially among the young cadres. Osama was happy with this type of work and called on young people to acquire such expertise in order to gain necessary skills that may benefit them in establishing their own projects and managing them successfully if they cannot find jobs in the future. "I thank the SCTH for providing the opportunity for young people to cook popular dishes and to introduce them from all regions of the Kingdom. I prepare baked bread and people have been buying it daily since the launch of this festival. I work with a group of friends to prepare the dough and bake the bread. We're all excited and happy about the experience we are gaining," he said. He added that he began to encourage his peers to engage with them at the Okaz market to find an opportunity to work and cook popular dishes. Abdullah Al-Quthmi, a chef participating in the market, said: "I find working in popular foods in the Okaz market as one of the most important things I did during the summer, and I am keen to take advantage of the revenues I generated." The visitors come from all over the Kingdom as well as from Gulf countries and Al-Quthmi and his friends specialize in different recipes that received a lot of attention from visitors, thus creating a unique demand. Al-Quthmi added: "We offer many popular dishes, such as "Mutbak, Masoub, Mantu, Yagmush," and “other foods that are famous from the Taif region. We earn good income, and the Okaz market did provide many jobs for the young people."
news
01-08-2017
11th phase of wage protection program covers over 481,000
RIYADH — As many as 481,097 employees working for 7,021 establishments each with a workforce ranging between 60-79 will be covered in the 11th phase of the wage protection program set for launch Tuesday. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development said phases 11 to 16 of the program will cover establishments with less than 80 and up to 11 workers. The date for the application of the program on establishments with less than 11 workers will be fixed later. The ministry said establishments not paying workers' salaries on time will be fined SR3,000 and said it would stop all its services from the establishments delaying salaries for two or more moths. "Aug.1 will be the date for the launch of the wage protection program's 11th stage," the ministry said in a statement published on its Twitter account. The program is also aimed at establishing a database containing uptodate information about the payment of salaries to the workers in the private sector. "The program will reflect the commitment of the companies and establishments to pay salaries on time and at the amount agreed upon with the workers," the ministry said. The ministry introduced the program for the first time in 2012 to protect private sector employees from delay in getting their monthly payments. It was first applied on companies and establishments employing 3,000 people or more and went down to the 10th stage which covered establishments with about 80 employees or more. Meanwhile, economic experts believe that 100 percent nationalization of jobs in seven sectors will provide more than 76,000 job opportunities to the nationals of both genders. The ministry has already Saudized jobs in the communication sector and is planning to localize jobs in the sectors of tourism, health, car rental offices, mobile food vehicles, groceries, supermarkets and malls. Abdullah Al-Maghlouth, member of the Saudi Society of Economists, described the move as positive and said it would provide ample job opportunities for the Saudis. He called for removing all the hurdles that might impede the process of Saudization including tasattur (expats doing jobs in the names of Saudis against certain fees). "A large number of expatriates are working in the contracting sector as well as in shops and car rental offices," he said. Maghlouth called for making the private sector attractive to the Saudis and said tasattur is dissipating the wealth of the country. Ahmed Al-Fakeeh, a realtor, called for nationalizing the real estate sector and said it has more non-Saudis. "We need strict laws to make the Saudization process a success as we have already made tangible achievements in the localization of jobs in the private sector," he said. A number of owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have called for rigorous training of national manpower to be able to keep pace with the needs and requirements of the labor market.
news
27-07-2017
Expat levy has little impact on purchasing power, experts say
JEDDAH – The expat levy and some families’ decision to leave the Kingdom do not have a direct impact on the purchasing power in the economy, according to local experts. Certain companies in the private sector are carrying the cost of the new levy on their employees, either in full or in part. “Unlike on the outset, not many expats are planning to leave the Kingdom because of the new levy and they will weigh the cost of moving,” says Hattan Saaty, managing partner at Strategic Gears, a local consultancy firm that published a report this month revealing a research study on the revised expat levy and its impact on the economy. “It is unlikely that expats with families will leave immediately after the implementation of the levy, and based on the survey most of them are long stayers who have already created deep roots within Saudi Arabia, so the leaving decision isn’t an easy one,” says Saaty, adding that a number of expat high performers might expect salary increases in the coming years or other external factors positively affecting their income. According to the research surveying 1,500 male expats with families working in various occupations and different income levels, expats will consider the levy as too high when it reaches 15 percent of their salaries. With more than 11 million expats in the country, and more than 600,000 unemployed Saudis with an increasing unemployment growth rate, it’s expected that the government will start taking more drastic measures, according to the researchers. “We believe the expat levy would make expat hiring less attractive as it will reduce the average monthly wage gap between expats and Saudi employees from SR4,057 to SR3,257,” says Saaty. “In the long-term, the expat levy is positive for the labor market in several aspects, namely changing the business model in the private sector that relies on cheap labor and increasing Saudization that, in return, will increase the purchasing power of Saudi families.” The nationalization rate, or Saudization, in the private sector has been viewed as stagnant at around 17 percent over the past 5 years, despite nationalization programs such as Nitaqat as well as the previously introduced expat levy in 2015. On the consumption power, economists and businessmen view that expats will likely reduce their spending to cover the levy payment but will not affect the overall market. Responses by expat families in the study indicate an average expenditure of SR5,665 per month, compared to a Saudi family’s average monthly spending of SR15,367. Mohamed Alawi, CEO of Red Sea Mall and chairman of shopping centers committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Saudi Gazette: “Looking at the big picture, consumption by expats is much less than Saudis. The economy largely depends on the purchasing power of Saudis, pilgrims, and visitors.” Economists consider the levy to encourage more Saudis to be hired in shopping centers and shops. “The government has introduced this levy just like any other countries with foreign residents who pay taxes,” he added. The monthly revised levy starting from July 2017 remains lower than other countries that have a large number of expat labor. In the UK, the monthly expat levy stands at SR808, while in Singapore it stands at SR1,360. Asked about the purchasing power after the return of incentives of government employees, Alawi says Saudis are now more aware in rationalized spending and managing their budget than before the budget cuts last year. The Ministry of Labor and the Job Creation and Employment Commission plan to create 1.2 million job opportunities, aiming to create 450,000 jobs for Saudis in the private sector by 2020. The National Transformation Plan aims to increase the percentage of females in the workforce from 23 percent to 28 percent and reduce overall unemployment from 11.6 percent to 9 percent.
news
24-07-2017
Expats in last-minute rush as amnesty ends today
Jeddah — Thousands of undocumented expatriate workers intensified their efforts to benefit from an amnesty which is coming to an end on Monday. Expatriate affairs departments at deportation centers across the Kingdom from Arar in north to Asir in south witnessed huge crowds on Sunday. The Shumaisy deportation center on Harmain express road in Makkah, the largest facility in the Kingdom, also witnessed a huge rush of expatriates from various countries. A total of 7,421 Indonesians left Saudi Arabia by registering at the Indonesian consulate in Jeddah, said a source. This number is three times less than the number registered during the amnesty in 2013. Umar Badarsyah, vice consul for information, social and cultural affairs at the Indonesian consulate, told Saudi Gazette that many undocumented workers were expecting another extension of amnesty considering the advent of Haj. Many of these expats decided to stay during Haj to make some fast bucks before returning home. Badarsyah said the Indonesian consulate general relentlessly tried to convince them to use this opportunity to return home yet the number of those who registered did not increase. Some Indonesians did not benefit from the amnesty because they were reported to the police, others had problem in their data entry in the system. Indonesian diplomatic missions issued over 13,000 travel documents in Jeddah and Riyadh to their nationals, according to officials at Indonesian embassy in Riyadh. Yemen consulate in Jeddah is processing the exit papers of 300 Yemenis daily through border check post via Shahrouh in Najran province. Yet several Yemenis are on waiting list to complete exit procedures at Shumaisi deportation center, according to Yemeni diplomatic sources. Nearly 60,000 Ethiopian nationals from Jeddah region alone applied for exit visas. “We are confused due to the lack of information,” admitted Ethiopian Consul General Wubishet Dimise. Sudan also intensified efforts to facilitate paperwork of its works. More than 46,000 Sudanese expatriates — 32,000 from Riyadh and 14,000 from Jeddah — are returning home, many of them came to the Kingdom as shepherds and agriculture farm workers. Over 75,000 Pakistanis have applied for travel documents in Riyadh and Jeddah, according to Pakistani diplomatic sources. Over 50,000 Bangladeshis intend to return home, according to Bangladesh diplomatic sources. Some 45,000 were able to complete their exit procedures across the Kingdom. A total of 20,000 have already left the Kingdom. Nearly 31,000 Indians came forward to return home under the amnesty. Many of them have left the Kingdom, but officials have no idea how many still remain as the information has to be shared by Saudi officials.
news
21-07-2017
KSA fully backs Kuwaiti measures; MOFA source
JEDDAH — The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expressed its full support for the measures taken by Kuwait towards the Iranian diplomatic mission in the State of Kuwait. The measures included the shutting of the Iranian cultural mission in Kuwait. The measures against the Iranian Embassy involve the closure of the military and cultural offices. Kuwait also reduced the number of Iranian diplomats to 9, while giving Iranian diplomats 45 days to leave the country. These measures were taken after the issuance of a court verdict on what is known as the “Al-Abdali cell” and the involvement of some Iranian bodies in assisting and supporting the cell members, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted an official source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying Thursday. On Wednesday, the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry published photos of 16 convicted in the case of the “Al-Abdali cell” issuing verdicts in absence against them. In a press release, the ministry asked citizens and residents to report them, warning against sheltering any of them. On August 13, 2015, the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry arrested a number of defendants with a large quantity of weapons found at a farm in Al-Abdali area near the Iraqi border inside houses belonging to suspects. — SPA
news
20-07-2017
Bahraini lawmakers reject calls for age cap on expat workers
DUBAI: Plans to ban expats over 50-years-old from working in Bahrain have been rejected by the island nation’s Council of Representatives. The proposed age cap was suggested in an attempt to boost employment chances for Bahrainis, but it was opposed by the Labor Market Regulatory Authority and Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Politicians rejected the plans because they said Bahrain continued to gain from the experience and knowledge foreign workers brought with them. MP Ali Al-Aradi, the First Deputy Speaker, told UAE daily Gulf News. “There are various sectors that do need people with experience and expertise.” And MP Isa Al-Kooheji said: “In some sectors, the older the person gets, the more experienced he or she becomes and the better he or she passes his or her skills to others, and I can cite medicine and law, for instance.” Al-Kooheji said he did not oppose Bahrainis taking up more new jobs, but he added: “I have never said that Bahrainis were not competent enough, but I do say that it is highly significant that we obtain experience from foreigners for the sake of our people.” More than half Bahrain’s population is foreign nationals – although many of those are low to unskilled people working in construction and service sector positions. Meanwhile Bahrainis tend to hold advanced positions in skill-based positions.
news
19-07-2017
62.77% request for expat work visas declined
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) said in its annual report that it rejected as many as 533,016 applications for work visas in 2016, representing about 62.77 percent of the total foreign recruitment requests which were 849,228. The ministry said it approved 316,212 work visa applications representing about 37.24 percent of the total number of applications it received. It said work visas were electronically issued through its special computer service for work visa issuance. The ministry said it has signed five-year agreements and MoUs to employ workers from Turkey, Mexico, Egypt, India, Morocco and Cambodia. The ministry has also signed temporary MoUs with China, Japan and Malaysia to this effect. The new Nitaqat system will be implemented from Sept. 3, the ministry’s spokesman Khaled Aba Al-Khail said. He said the Nitaqat program was aimed at improving the market performance, raising the quality of employment and creating more job opportunities for Saudi men and women. “We are trying to create a safe and conducive work environment and to put an end to unproductive nationalization of jobs,” he said. Aba Al-Khail said the rate of Saudization of jobs is decided according to economic activities of establishments. “We have also divided SMEs into categories A and B,” he said.
news
19-07-2017
No fee for dependents of expats on visit visas
RIYADH — Expat workers do not have to pay the fee for dependents who are in the Kingdom on a visit visa, the Department of Passports (Jawazat) has clarified in a statement. “No extra fees beyond the SR100 for the monthly extension of the visit visa will be charged,” the Jawazat said, setting to rest rumors that expats will have to pay the fee for dependents even on visit visas at the time of visa extension. The reality, however, is different. A number of parents were asked to pay more than SR100 for a visit visa extension. Assistant director general of the Jawazat for IT affairs Khaled Al-Saikhan told Makkah Arabic daily on Tuesday that these people should ask their banks to refund the extra money they paid for the visit visa extension. Saikhan said the fees for dependents are paid annually in advance at the time of the issuance or renewal of iqamas (residence permits), issuance of exit-reentry visas or when the final exit visa is required. “There are no dependents’ fees on the issuance or extension of a family visit visa. Anyone who is asked to do so should resort to the concerned bank,” he said.
news
18-07-2017
Double whammy for Indian expats going home for good
Jeddah — Indian expatriates returning home on final exit visas amid job uncertainty and rising cost of living in the Kingdom are now experiencing an unexpected shock in the form of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the newly introduced tax system in India. Thanks to GST, cargo charges have been doubled. Shipments sent to India prior to the introduction of the new tax system are also held up at customs warehouses at airports in India because officials are demanding revised tariff under GST. An approximately 500 tons of goods sent from Saudi Arabia are held up at various airports in India since July 1 when the GST was introduced, sources said. Cargo facilities at airports in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam are also having a backlog load, said the sources. The freight delivery duration has also increased from two weeks to a month and more. “As a result of the sudden imposition of GST, 90 tons of cargo goods sent by our agency a month ahead of July 1 are also held up at Indian airports,” Abdul Rasheed, manager of a leading door-to-door delivery cargo service in Jeddah, told Saudi Gazette. As a result we are collecting GST charges from customers here, he said. He expressed concern that if they delayed in paying GST, airport warehouses will impose demurrage charges on them. Indian expatriates have been using door-to-door cargo services across the Kingdom for sending goods, mostly used items, to home country as gift items. Since 1993 India has allowed the shipment of gift items and goods (not electronics, gold jewelry or any other prohibited items) for personal use assessed worth up to Rs20,000 from abroad with the exemption of customs duty and any tax. This was helpful for many returning Indians. But this exemption was nullified in an overnight decision just a day prior to GST and brought under tax ambit. As per new rules effective from July1, 41% tax has been imposed on goods sent as personal gift items. The tax comprises 10% customs duty, 3% education cess and 28% GST (the highest GST slab). “I do not want to pay 41% GST for used towels, bed linen and kitchen utensils,” said a housewife, who is planning to return home for good. Mohammed Yousuf, president of Telugu Association of Jeddah (TAJ), questioned the logic behind reducing the exemption limit for goods under transfer of residency in the new GST slab. “When gift items given by employers to their employees worth up to Rs50,000 per year are exempted under GST then why exemption limit on shipped gift items was reduced from Rs20,000 to merely Rs2,000,” questioned Yousuf. Abdulaziz, manager of a leading door-to-door cargo service in Jeddah, said that business has been affected since the introduction of GST.
news
17-07-2017
39,000 violators in Madinah complete exit procedures
MADINAH — The Passport Department in Madinah has completed the departure procedures for 38,924 residency and labor law violators as of Monday, Al-Madina newspaper reported quoting the Maj. Gen. Khaled Al-Huwaish, director of passports in Madinah. Al-Huwaish said the procedures were finalized at the passport offices in the city, Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport, and the Yanbu airport and seaport. Al-Huwaish revealed that while verifying the documents of departing expatriates, the passport officers identified 41expatriates of various nationalities wanted by the police for criminal and security-related issues. "The campaign is proceeding very smoothly and the procedures are simple and fast," he said, and urged all violators to avail of the amnesty to leave the Kingdom voluntarily so that they will be able to return to the Kingdom legally any time in the future. The passport director explained that those who have overstayed their Haj, Umrah or visit visa could leave directly through the Kingdom's various air, sea and land exits. "Expatriates with expired residence permits, those have not been issued them, and those who have been reported by their sponsors for running away should process their departure papers through the passport departments," he said. An initial 90-day general amnesty as part of the Interior Ministry's A Nation Without Illegal Expatriates campaign began at the end of March and was extended by a month. It will end on June 25. The violators who opt to leave the Kingdom voluntarily during the amnesty period will not be fingerprinted and may return to the Kingdom for work legally anytime in the future. They will not be subject to fines, imprisonment or any other kind of punishment. The authorities have warned of intensified security campaigns to arrest any illegal expatriate who remain in the Kingdom after the June 25 deadline. Those arrested will face severe punishments including hefty fines and imprisonment.
news
14-07-2017
Next phase of Saudi wage protection program takes effect in August
JEDDAH: Starting Aug. 1, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development will begin enforcing the mandatory wage protection system on private establishments with more than 60 employees. According to the ministry’s spokesman, Khaled Aba Al-Khail, the 11th phase of the program will include more than 7,000 establishments, and a total of more than 481,000 employees. In a statement via the ministry’s Twitter account, Aba Al-Khail confirmed the ministry will apply the wage protection system on all private sector employers to ensure employee salaries are paid in a timely manner. Establishments that do not pay salaries in time will be fined up to SR3,000 ($800) per worker, the statement read. Penalties against violators also include suspending all services to establishments that are late in submitting information about the wages of employees for three months, and permitting employees of these establishments to transfer to other employers without requiring approval.
news
14-07-2017
Indian consulate working to reach families of 11 dead in Najran fire
JEDDAH — The team of senior diplomats at Indian Consulate here have been working round the clock to assist families of victims of the Najran fire tragedy. “We have identified that all 11 dead were Indians and are trying to communicate with their families.” Indian Consul General Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh told Saudi Gazette. He said that among dead, 5 were from Uttar Pradesh, 3 from Kerala and one each from Bihar, Punjab and Tamil Nadu. He added that among the injured five from India – 4 are from Uttar Pradesh and one from Jarkhand. The consul general said that particulars of victims would be made public shortly. Sheikh said that consulate was able to establish contact with some of families so far and officers are working to reach others at the earliest based on their passport details. He also said that a consulate help team is stationed in Najran and he was personally in touch with all relevant authorities including the governorate in Najran. He said that he was also constantly updating senior officials back home in New Delhi.
news
12-07-2017
Domestic workers can transfer sponsorship if salary is delayed for 3 months
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MoL) confirmed that domestic workers can transfer to other employers if it is proved that the current employer was late in paying salaries for three consecutive or intermittent months. Labor Minister Ali bin Nasser Al-Ghafis issued a ministerial decision endorsing the transfer of services of a domestic worker from the current employer to a new one in 13 cases. MoL spokesman Khalid Abalkhail said: “One of the cases where the domestic worker has the right to transfer his/her services includes the delay by the employer to pay salaries for three consecutive or intermittent months without the employee being the reason for this delay; when the employer is not present to receive the worker at the port of entry into the country; or not taking the worker from the shelter house within a period of 15 days from the date of arrival. “The other cases include the failure of the employer to obtain a residency permit or failure to renew the expired one within 30 days of the expiry date.” The spokesman added that workers can transfer from one employer to another in cases where the employer leased the services of the worker to others without the knowledge of the worker, or assigning him/her to work for non-relatives of the second degree, and in cases that prove the worker was commissioned to perform hazardous tasks that threaten his/her health and safety. The decision to transfer the services of domestic workers also includes cases where the worker was abused, or where a formal complaint by the worker exists against his/her employer. Other cases for services transfer include situations where employers file invalid complaints against absent workers; when the employer fails to attend two sessions addressing a complaint filed by the worker; and in cases where the employer is absent either for travel or imprisonment, death or any other reason that resulted in failure to pay wages for three consecutive months. The new employer will pay the transfer fees and costs of sheltering the worker during his/her stay in the shelter house, which amounts to SR150 ($40) per day, in accordance with the mechanism put in place by the ministry.
news
10-07-2017
Expat fees and tough personal decision
Mahmoud Ahmad THIS is the story of Bakhsh, a Pakistani farmer who is employed in a Madinah farm, as told in the front page of a local daily last week. Bakhsh, his brothers and sons, who have lived in the Kingdom for 35 years or more, are now faced with the prospects of making their toughest decision in their life — leaving the Kingdom. The reason being the recent levy of dependent fees, which they cannot afford to pay, as they work as farmers with meager salaries. Expatriates now have to pay SR100 from this July per dependent per month. In addition, there is another fee to be instituted in January 2018, when companies in which expats outnumber Saudis will have to pay SR400 every month for each expat worker, pay SR300 for each expat worker when the numbers of expats employed by them equal the number of nationals in the firm. The fees will then exponentially increase annually with the monthly fees on expats for each of their dependents rising to SR200. The fees on expats outnumbering the Saudis will be increased to SR600 per month from January 2019 while firms with equal number of expats and nationals will need to pay SR500. The fees on dependents will be hiked to SR300 per dependent per month the next year. At the start of 2020, the fees for expatriates outnumbering Saudis will be increased to SR800 monthly and to SR700 for expatriates who are in equal number to Saudi workers in a company. The monthly fees on the dependents will be raised to SR400 per head from mid 2020. The yearly slab of levies have got many expatriates thinking of leaving — some voluntarily while some forced. Bakhsh was born in the Kingdom and has lived all his life in Saudi Arabia. He has 12 sons and after calculating the first year expat fee, he realized he would have to pay SR14,000. With the amount doubling the next year and, increasing exponentially annually, he feels he would not be able to afford paying the amount. He has finally decided to go back to a country that he had never visited in his life. There are bound to be many such Bakhshs in the expatriate community, who are faced with the dilemma to pay and stay with their families or take a decision to call it quits with their family. It is those who have been in the Kingdom for decades are the ones facing a wrenching time. For it may not be difficult to take a call for those who have been working and living in Saudi Arabia for less than ten years, as the attachment to the Kingdom is not as strong as for those who were born here and lived for more than 40 years. Like Bakhsh, they too will have to make a call — either face the tough decision of paying the fees and work in multiple jobs, which is a burden for low-income expats, or go back to a country, by virtue of their passports, that they have visited occasionally or never seen in their lives and be strangers in their own countries. The decision becomes tougher with the fear that they would not be able to rebuild a life where parameters are different and unknown. That’s why many have suddenly woken up to the fact that there’s a need to understand the local laws and requirements of their native lands, such that it would enable them to fit in, if the need arises for them to leave the Kingdom. Some expats, however, are implementing or have implemented their plan-B that includes sending their wives and children back home, risking separation and the social issues that come with it. This means most of the money spent in the Kingdom will now take flight outside in the form of remittances. Expats living with their families in an apartment will live together as forced bachelors leaving many vacant apartments, which will lead to prices going down, and a possible fall of revenue for the Saudi owner. The knock-on effect will also be on shops, malls, hotels, which could witness a fall in revenues too. Some Saudis are seeing that the levying of expat fees as a perfect opportunity to put an end to unemployment problems, especially with expats leaving their jobs and the Kingdom. They expect Saudis to fill the positions that the expats vacate. Those who are in favor of the fees are betting on Saudis filling these jobs as the market would open up with opportunities and become lucrative for nationals once many of the low-paid expats leave. So instead of, lets say for example, five laundries or barber shops in one street, it would be limited to one with a Saudi operating it and getting the bigger share of the market. They a
news
08-07-2017
Dependent fee to be paid in advance and is not refundable
Saudi Gazette THERE is no exemption for the newborns in the new dependent fee for expatriates working in the private sector, according to the General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat). The fee will be levied after registration of birth with retrospective effect from the date of birth, the Jawazat said in a statement issued on Wednesday. The fees will be levied annually in advance against any dependent or companion of an expatriate worker in the private sector at the time of issuance or renewal of ‘Resident’ (muqeem) identity or issuance of an exit and re-entry visa or a final exit visa. The fee will be non-refundable. The payment of the fee is applicable to all nationalities but there will be an exemption for those who already enjoy exemption from payment of iqama fee. The monthly fee per head is SR100 effective from July 2017 and this will be increased to SR200, SR300, and SR400 from the first day of July 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively. Jawazat started levying the dependent fee under a mechanism introduced in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and the National Information Center in pursuant with an earlier Cabinet decision approving the Fiscal Balancing Program of 2020. Under it fees will be levied on all dependents (tabie) and companions (murafiq) of expatriates working in the private sector gradually way and on annual basis. The fee shall be paid in the category of ‘Associate Fees for a Specific Associate or All Associates’ in the Alien Control segment in the government services section of SADAD bills available at online systems of all local banks in the Kingdom. “All necessary adjustments have been made on automated iqama system (residency permit) to cope with the new amendments,” the statement said. Regarding the issuance of a final exit visa for an expatriate worker or his dependent and/or a companion, fee will be paid for the period from July 1, 2017 until the date of the issuance of the final exit visa (departure date). In case the validity of the final exit visa exceeds the validity period of iqama, the fee for the overlapping period between validity of the visa and iqama shall be paid, the Jawazat statement said. According to the Cabinet decision, the associates include dependents — wife, sons under 18, and daughters; and companions who are sons above 18 years of age, second, third, or fourth wife or wives, father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, domestic workers and any expatriate whose name is registered in the system as sponsored by an expatriate worker. 

news
07-07-2017
New expat fee includes newborns
JEDDAH: The Passport Department on Wednesday said it has completed modifications to its electronic portal to cope with the new requirement that private-sector, non-Saudi residents pay a fee for each of their dependents and escorts (those under the resident’s sponsorship, but not a wife or son younger than 18). It said the fee include newborns, and is required to be paid when requesting visa and residency services online. The monthly fee is SR100 ($26.67) in 2017, SR200 in 2018, SR300 in 2019 and SR400 in 2020. The fee came into effect on July 1, and is aimed at increasing state revenues to offset the impact of low oil prices. The Passport Department said the fee should be paid before renewal of a residency permit or issuance of an exit/re-entry visa for expat workers of all nationalities.
news
06-07-2017
Saudi Arabia’s fees on expats’ dependents draw mixed reactions
RIYADH: Expatriates expressed concern and sadness over the decision to apply new fees on dependents of foreign workers in the Saudi Arabia. The new policy came into effect on July 1. The Saudi Cabinet passed a series of decisions last December, aimed to increase state revenues to offset the impact of the fall of oil prices. One of these decisions was to apply new fees on the dependents of foreign workers. According to the decision, the fee will start at SR100 for each dependent per month and will increase to SR200 from July 2018, then SR300 in 2019 and SR400 in 2020. The Passport Department said Sunday the fees should be paid in advance before the renewal of the residency permit or the issuance of an exit/re-entry visa for expat workers of all nationalities. Mohammed Ali, a Sudanese sales employee living in Riyadh with his five-member family, said he was seriously thinking about sending his family back home, as these fees will eat up his salary and savings. He expressed hope that the Saudi authorities would reconsider these fees in a country “we have loved and worked for.” Hasan Ismail, another Sudanese national who works as an accountant in a private company, expressed similar concern over his future in the Kingdom. He said the fees would put more pressure on his finances. “As far as I know, companies are not prepared to bear the fees on behalf of their foreign employees and they may possibly tell employees either to pay their dependents’ fees or leave,” he told Arab News. With a heavy heart, Fatima Mohammed, a Sudanese housewife and a retired teacher, said she was prepared to pack up and return to her country after 25 happy years in the Kingdom. She said she would be leaving her husband in the Kingdom alone to provide a decent life for the family in Sudan. Zakir Aazmi, an Indian worker who has lived in the Kingdom with his family for more than two decades, echoed these sentiments. He said that the dependent fee is likely to be a huge financial burden for expatriates living with their families in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, he believes it will not generate the expected revenue as many expatriates will now be forced to return home or send back their dependents — as such, he predicts the policy will have an adverse effect on the local economy, particularly the housing sector. Furthermore, there will be huge cut in spending, as remittances will increase with families back home, he added. Ahsan Ali, a Pakistani expatriate, also expressed concern saying: “We have no option but to send family back home, even there are many like me thinking of returning home as the stay here has become a costly affair. Dr. Majed Abdullah Al-Hedayan, a legal consultant and foreign direct investment (FDI) expert, told Arab News: “The application of fees on expatriate workers and their dependents, whether family members or domestic labor, is normal and applied in many countries of the world and the foreign worker recognizes the fact that the imposition of fees is beneficial in the provision of government services that are provided free of charge to citizens.” “If we evaluate the fees compared to the value of services and facilities provided here, they will accept it even though it sounds difficult in the beginning,” he added. Syed Hamid, a senior executive from Sri Lanka working in Riyadh said: “The unpreparedness to deal with the newly introduced levy on the dependents has caused worry which was evident at the airports also for those leaving on vacation.” However, most expatriates appear to share the view that the benefits of living in the Kingdom outweigh the drawbacks of the new fee. “We understand it will be a burden for expatriates with large number of dependents,” he added.
news
05-07-2017
Companies weigh options to deal with new expat fee
RIYADH — Some private companies have decided to pay the new expat dependents fee imposed by the government in order to prevent their highly qualified and experienced foreign workers from leaving the Kingdom. There are are 2.4 million dependents of expat workers, according to the General Authority for Statistics. There are about 10 million expat workers who work mainly in the private sector. Economist Fadl Bouainain said private companies will naturally cut some allowances in order to compensate for the payment of the new fee. The government started imposing the new fee from July 1, 2017 as part of its efforts to increase public revenue. The fee has sent shock waves among foreign workers and many of them have decided to send their families home. Bouainain told Al-Watan Arabic daily that the new fee will force many companies to revise travel, education and vacation allowances given to foreign workers. Companies will have two options: Either to increase prices of products or keep them unchanged and cut allowances given to expats, he added. The General Authority for Statistics said that about 10 million foreign workers in the Kingdom were in the age group of 20 to 64 and the number of their dependents totaled more than two million. There were 10,000 foreign workers aged below 20. The Passport Department started imposing the new levy on July 1 at the rate of SR100 for every dependent to reach SR1,200 annually. The amount will be doubled in July 2018 to reach SR200 per month and SR2,400 in a year. In July 2020 it will be raised to reach SR400 per month per dependent. Companies where expat and Saudi workers are in equal numbers will have to pay a levy of SR300 per expat worker per month in January 2018. This levy will increase to SR500 per month per worker in 2019 and SR700 per month per worker in 2020. Companies where expat workers outnumber Saudis will have to pay a levy of SR400 per month per worker in January 2018. This will increase to SR600 per month per worker in 2019 and SR800 per month per worker in 2020.
news
04-07-2017
Expats must pay dependents’ fees before Iqama renewal or re-entry visa: Passports Department
RIYADH: The General Directorate of Passports of the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said that the issuance of exit/re-entry visas for expatriates and the renewal of residence permits will not be made unless fees levied on dependents of foreign workers are paid in advance. Government agencies including banks have either updated or are updating their technical platforms for accepting these fees. Responding to many inquires received on its Twitter account, the Passports Department said that fees levied on the head of the family “should be paid before issuance of exit/re-entry visa or renewal of residence permits.” The new fee for dependents of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia went into force July 1, which was announced by the Ministry of Finance last year in a step to balance in the budget. In December 2016, the Saudi Council of Ministers passed a series of decisions aimed to increase state revenues to offset the impact of the fall in oil prices. According to the decision, the fees start at SR100 ($27) for each dependent per month and it will increase to SR200 after July 2018, and SR300 and SR400 in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Based on government estimates, fees on expatriate’s dependents will yield some SR1 billion by the end the current year, while fees on dependents and levies on foreign workers at private sector companies will achieve SR24bn, SR44bn and SR65bn in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. The fees will be paid annually when a residence permit is sent for renewal or the expatriate worker seeks a re-entry visa. According to the local media, dependents are categorized as follows: A wife (or wives), sons, daughters, parents, wife’s father or mother, house workers, and drivers who are registered under the name of a sponsor, namely expatriates working in commercial companies. The Saudi government plans to achieve a balanced budget by 2020. In a briefing to reporters last December, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said the fees do not apply to domestic workers employed by Saudi citizens. He also ruled out imposition of an income tax on Saudis, foreigners or company revenues. The Kingdom has not levied any fees on remittances sent by about 11 million expatriates currently living and working in the Kingdom.
news
04-07-2017
Passport Department: No nationality is exempted from fees on dependents
RIYADH: The General Directorate of Passports at the Ministry of Interior said here Monday that fees levied on dependents of foreign workers cover all nationalities without any exception. The Passports Department made it categorically clear that residence permits will not be renewed until fees on dependents are paid. Responding to inquires received on its Twitter account, the Passports Department further said that “the fees will include all nationalities including Yemenis and Syrians.” On Sunday, the department reiterated that the fees should be paid in advance before issuance of exit/re-entry visa or renewal of residence permits (iqama). New fees on dependents of foreign workers went into effect on July 1, and since then social media has been abuzz with different versions of the fees and the payment system. There have been also several misleading messages on these networks, saying that the fees on dependents have been rescinded or halted. Asked about such concocted messages, a source at the Passports Department said that “the information is untrue; they [the messages] are all misleading.” The monthly levy, is SR100 ($27) per dependent for the first year. The amount will gradually rise every year until 2020; it will double to SR200 after a year, then increase to SR300 in July 2019 and SR400 in 2020. It is important to note that the Council of Ministers approved the new fees as part of a fiscal balance program adopted in December 2016. The Saudi government is next year planning to raise the fees on expatriate workers in the Kingdom as the government is committed to its goal of achieving a balance between revenues and expenditure by 2020.
news
03-07-2017
Expats feel fee pinch
JEDDAH — Expats going on vacation with their families in this peak holiday season felt the pinch of the new dependent fee, which came into force on Saturday, when they tried to pay the exit-reentry visa fee for family members. Those who wanted to pay the exit-reentry visa fee for their family members were prompted by the online payment system to first clear the dependent fee for the remaining months of the validity of their iqamas (residence permits). From Saturday evening till Sunday morning, the online payment system was displaying only exit-reentry fees. But hours later it started displaying complete and accurately calculated amount of dependent fee based on the validity of iqama against each dependent. The payment of dependent fee is not only directly linked with the renewal of iqama but also the issuance of exit-reentry visa, whichever comes first. The exit-reentry process can be done against single individual dependent by paying the fee till the date of the validity of iqama. However, for the renewal of iqama it is mandatory to settle the amount for all dependents, according to a human resources expert of a leading business firm. “The fee mechanism falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance. Passport Department (Jawazat) has nothing to say. It is working according to the new system,” a senior Jawazat official told Saudi Gazette. As part of the government’s Fiscal Balance Program, a resident’s dependent is expected to pay SR1,200 for one year as of July 1, 2017. All dependents are included in the regulation, including children, wife, as well as maids and drivers working directly for a sponsor. Monthly fee for each dependent costs SR100 this year. It will increase by SR100 per month every year reaching SR400 by 2020 for each dependent. This will generate SR1 billion in revenue by the end of the year and SR65 billion by 2020, according Okaz Arabic daily. Saliha Gardezi, a Pakistani expatriate born in the Kingdom who lives with her British husband and their baby daughter in Riyadh, said: “I totally understand Saudi Arabia’s need to give more opportunities to its nationals and tackle unemployment. However, the decision to effectively tax expats to the point that many of them will be forced to leave is demeaning to those people who have also contributed to the country’s development alongside their Saudi brothers and sisters.” Omar Ghazi, an Egyptian national living in Riyadh, said the new fees will gradually affect residents in the Kingdom. “Low-income and middle class families with children will have to send their family members on final exit,” he said, adding, “I’ve seen many people who have already done this.” Farah Al-Ahmar, a Jordanian national who grew up in the Kingdom and is currently seeking better job opportunities abroad, said the fees will be a burden on families. “It’s becoming costly for families, especially those who have several children. Such additional fees are putting pressure on non-Saudis living here,” she said.
news
28-06-2017
US lists China among worst human trafficking offenders
WASHINGTON: The United States placed China on its global list of worst offenders in human trafficking and forced labor. “China was downgraded to Tier 3 status in this year’s report, in part because it has not taken serious steps to end its own complicity to end trafficking,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said about the downgrade. The reprimand of China, Washington’s main rival in the Asia-Pacific region, would come despite Trump’s budding relationship with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and the US president’s efforts to coax Beijing into helping to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Tillerson has decided to drop China to “Tier 3,” the lowest grade, putting it alongside Iran, North Korea and Syria among others, said the sources, who have knowledge of the internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity. The was announced on Tuesday in an annual report published by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Tier 3 rating can trigger sanctions limiting access to US and international aid, but US presidents frequently waive such action. While it was unclear what led Tillerson to downgrade China, last year’s report criticized the communist government for not doing enough to curb “state-sponsored forced labor” and concluded it did not meet “minimum standards” for fighting trafficking – though it still said Beijing was making significant efforts. The Trump administration has also grown concerned about conditions in China for North Korean labor crews that are contracted through Pyongyang and provide hard currency for the North Korean leadership, which is squeezed for cash by international sanctions, said the congressional source. In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the government was resolute in its resolve to fight human trafficking and the results were plain to see. “China resolutely opposes the US side making thoughtless remarks in accordance with its own domestic law about other countries’ work in fighting human trafficking,” he told a daily news briefing. Since taking office, Trump has praised Xi for agreeing to work on the North Korea issue during a Florida summit in April and has held back on attacking Chinese trade practices he railed against during the presidential campaign. But Trump has recently suggested he was running out of patience with China’s modest steps to pressure North Korea, which is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States. The annual report, covering more than 180 countries and territories, calls itself the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts. It organizes countries into tiers based on trafficking and forced labor records: Tier 1 for nations that meet minimum US standards; Tier 2 for those making significant efforts to meet those standards; Tier 2 “Watch List” for those that deserve special scrutiny; and Tier 3 for countries that fail to comply with the minimum US standards and are not making significant efforts. For the past three years, China has been ranked “Tier 2 Watch List.” In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. In 2015, Reuters reported that experts in the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons had sought to downgrade China that year to Tier 3 but were overruled by senior diplomats.
news
20-06-2017
UAE passport ranked most powerful in region
The UAE passport ranking advanced in 2017 to the first sport in the Arab world and 22nd globally, according to Global Passport Power Rank 2017. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) recently launched the UAE Passport Force initiative, with the view to place the State's passport on the list of the five most important passports in the world by 2021 upon the directives of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. This great achievement reflects the success of the UAE diplomacy during the past period in carrying out the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on openness to all world countries. The feat also comes as a result of the efforts exerted by the UAE diplomacy to establish strategic political, economic, commercial, cultural, scientific, and educational, as well as health relations and partnerships that contribute to enhancing the status of the State at the international level. The MoFAIC underlined that the UAE 2021 Vision, which aims to make the country one of the best countries in the world by the golden jubilee of the Union, has stimulated the ministry to strengthen the State's position in the international arena, and hence, launched the UAE Passport Force initiative to enable citizens to enter all world the countries without the need for pre-entry visa requirements. "This increases happiness of the citizens," it added. The ministry stepped up the diplomatic move towards greater openness to the world through the exchange of visits and contacts at the highest levels, as well as regular holding of joint committee meetings. These moves also included opening up and strengthening relations with the Latin America, Pacific and African countries, besides strong positive presence in all regional and international forums. The MoFAIC noted that the government's strategy aims to provide distinguished services to citizens, including exemption from pre-entry visa requirements to countries of the world - this is the strategic goal of the State. It stressed that the UAE diplomacy plays a vital role in persuading governments around the world to agree to exempt citizens from the pre-entry visa requirements when they visit their countries. Ahmed Saeed Elham Al Dhaheri, Assistant Under-Secretary for Consular Affairs at the ministry, said that the ranking of the UAE passport as the first Arab passport and 22nd globally, according to Arton Capital Passport Index 2017, "is one of the most important achievements of the UAE diplomacy led, by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan." Al Dhahiri added that these achievements are directly reflected on the citizen's happiness through travel facilitation to the largest number of countries around the world. The UAE passport allows its holder to visit 128 countries around the world without a pre-entry visa requirement. The UAE official noted that this status did not come from a vacuum, but through remarkable efforts and huge economic development achievements. "These great accomplishments reflect the strategic, political, economic, social and cultural dimensions, with important implications in terms of prestige and appreciation, being enjoyed by the UAE, led by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, at international level."
news
19-06-2017
SGS denies employing expats in Saudis’ jobs
JEDDAH — There was no mention of the amount of salary or replacing jobs for Saudis, a representative from the Saudi Ground Services Company (SGS) said referring to reports published recently in several local newspapers, claiming the company handling ground services in Saudi airports had hired 60 expatriates favoring them over Saudis. “We did not say the expatriates will receive a SR6,000 salary,” said Hatim Alotorgy, SGS’s media relations officer. Commenting on the number of expats occupying operational jobs at the company, a source said: “In 2017, Saudi Ground Services Company (SGS) has experienced some movement in the recruitment sector, where a total number of 294 Saudi employees and 511 non-Saudi employees have left the company due to retirement, end of contract and other reasons.” Since SGS is a provider of ground handling services in all of the Kingdom’s airports, it has operational requirements and commitments toward more than 120 international airlines, he said. “During 2017, SGS appointed 60 non-Saudi employees who met operational requirements and have linguistic capabilities to communicate with the foreign airlines. Despite that, and during the same period, SGS has also recruited 942 Saudis in coordination with the Human Resources Development Fund,” the source added. The SGS said it has a Saudization rate of 94.9 percent across 27 airport terminals in the Kingdom. The company provides ground-handling services and support services including passenger services in the lounges and hall services at airports including fleet services, technical services, transportation services, traffic control services, and luggage services in the 27 Saudi airports for domestic and international airlines.
news
17-06-2017
Eid Al Fitr holiday for Federal Government announced
The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources has announced that Eid Al Fitr holiday for federal ministries and authorities in the UAE will begin on Saturday 29 Ramadan (corresponding to June 24). If Eid falls on Sunday, June 25, work will resume on Wednesday, June 28. If Eid falls on Monday, June 26, the holiday will still begin on Saturday, 29 Ramadan, with work resuming on Sunday, July 2. The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources conveyed greetings to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates. The authority also offered greetings on the occasion to the people of the UAE and the Arab and Muslim nations around the world.
news
16-06-2017
Kuwait deports 13,000 foreigners in five months Indians top list at 23%, followed by Egyptians at 20%
Manama: Authorities in Kuwait have deported around 13,000 foreigners in the first five months of the year. The reasons included mainly violation of residency and work regulations, implications in criminal offences and breaking traffic rules, a security source said, cited by Kuwaiti daily Al Qabas on Wednesday. Indians topped the list at 23 per cent of the deportees, followed by Egyptians at 20 per cent. Indians and Egyptians make up the two largest communities in the northern Arabian Gulf state. Filipinos constituted 17 per cent, followed by Ethiopians at 15 per cent, Sri Lankans at seven per cent and Bangladeshis six per cent. “These six nationalities make up 88 per cent of the foreigners who were deported while the other nationalities make up the remaining 12 per cent,” the source said. “In a noticeable break with the past, the deportation process is now much faster. Foreigners who are placed on the deportation list are sent home within one week, just enough time to process their papers and book the ticket to fly home.” The faster process has been very successful in eliminating chaos and the high numbers of people kept inside the deportation facility, and thus vastly reduced health risks and the spread of diseases, the source added. Kuwait has regularly issued warnings that it would deport foreigners who disrupted public order, mainly through brawls, assembly and engaging in political or religious issues, or driving without a licence. Officials said there were clear instructions to apply a zero-tolerance policy towards anyone breaking the law and to refer anyone caught driving without a proper licence immediately to the deportation office for legal action. Foreigners make up two thirds of the total population of 4.2 million in Kuwait. They are mainly unskilled or low-skilled workers from Asia and Africa in the construction and service sectors.
news
16-06-2017
Outdoor midday work ban starts in Saudi Arabia Punitive action against violators as three-hour ban to last three months
Manama: Saudi Arabia stressed that the three-month ban on outdoor work in the afternoon started yesterday. “There is a ban on making people work outdoors between noon and 3pm from June 15 until September 15,” the Ministry of Labour and Social Development posted on its Twitter account. The ministry urged people to report violations on a hotline dedicated to monitoring the situation. It added that all calls would be treated “with great discretion.” Workers were cautioned against working under the scorching heat and warned not to expose themselves to possible sunstrokes. Saudi Arabia, like other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, relies heavily on foreign labour, often imported from Asia, in the construction sector. Wary of the soaring temperatures in summer, the labour ministries have introduced a strict ban on outdoor work in the early afternoon and imposed heavy penalties against employers who insist on violating the rule. The rule does not apply to workers in the oil and gas sector or on emergency duty. However, their employers have to ensure that they are well protected from the high risks of exposure to the scorching sun. According to the General Authority for Statistics, more than 12 million of the 32 million people who live in Saudi Arabia are foreigners
news
15-06-2017
Housewives avoid recruitment hassle by hiring illegal maids
JEDDAH — Many housewives admitted that they increasingly rely on illegal housemaids during Ramadan not only because of procrastination by recruitment offices in completing the hiring process but also due to the incompetence of some the hired workers. Umm Adnan said the prices of the recruitment offices are too high and they make a lot of unnecessary conditions. “I had to look for other ways to find a housemaid to help me with the demanding housework during Ramadan. A few days ago, I hired an African maid on a high salary but she refused to work because I did not have a big room for her in my house. She went back home,” said Umm Adnan. Najlaa Mohammad said the maid she had hired spent her time talking on the phone instead of working. “I did not benefit from my maid at all. She barely works. All of the work is dumped on me when it is actually her job,” said Mohammad. Umm Hasan said she prefers to hire illegal housemaids and pay them by the hour to ensure that they actually do the work. “Hiring housemaids by the hour gives me the flexibility to only hire them when I need them. When I don’t need their services, I don’t have to pay them,” said Umm Hasan. Manal Al-Shihry said the recruitment offices are inefficient and this forced her to hire illegal housemaids to get her housework done. Khalid Al-Fakhry, secretary-general of the National Society for Human Rights Society, said sponsors posting adverts on social media offering the services of housemaids is a form of human trafficking because people trade in human beings as if they are a commodity. “It is a crime if the sponsor of a housemaid offers her services to other people and earns money from the transaction. The sponsors and the housemaids should be more educated about their rights and responsibility so they can legally protect themselves,” said Al-Fakhry.
news
14-06-2017
Midday break starts from Thursday in Dubai
The Standing Committee for Labour Affairs in the Emirate of Dubai will start a mandatory midday break from 15th June to 15th September, in accordance to the Resolution No. 421 of 2017, banning the work at the afternoon in summer at exposed places and establishments whose workers operate under direct sunlight. The afternoon break will be from 12:30 pm to 3:00 pm daily. Major General Obaid Muhair Bin Surour, Deputy Director of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai, and Chairman of the Standing Committee for Labour Affairs in the Emirate, said, "The committee will conduct seven patrols. There will be three inspectors in each patrol, representing the labour committee, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and Dubai Municipality to ensure full enforcement of the midday ban as per regulations in this respect." He noted the decision ensures the protection of workers and provides a safe working environment as well as occupational safety for them during their work. Surour said in the event of violation of the afternoon work ban decision, inspectors will take a necessary action. The fine of non-compliance is Dh5,000 per worker, and a maximum of Dh50,000 in case of multiple workers who perform their work contrary to the ban, he added. According to Bin Sorour, the committee during the inspection will direct and educate employers and workers about the decision of midday break in order to protect the rights of this category of workforce, and to avoid any violation that may occur.
news
13-06-2017
Early salary for UAE government staff before Eid Al Fitr
UAE President orders early salary payment on occasion of Eid Al Fitr In accordance with the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has ordered early salary transfers for federal government employees, social welfare beneficiaries and retirees, on the June 20, a gesture aimed at helping families ensure they can meet all their needs and requirements in the run up to Eid Al Fitr. Abu Dhabi government employees to get salaries on June 20 His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has ordered the payment of June salaries on the 20 of this month for employees of local government entities in Abu Dhabi, and retirees, on the occasion of Eid Al Fitr. The move is in line with the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in his capacity as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and aims to enable employees meet their families needs and requirements in the run up to Eid Al Fitr. Dubai government employees to get June salary early in the month In his capacity as Ruler of Dubai, Vice President and Prime Minister, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has ordered an early salary deposit for Dubai government employees in June, a gesture aimed at helping families ensure they can meet their needs and requirements during Eid Al Fitr. Government employees will receive their salaries on June, 15 (20th Ramadan), about ten days prior to Eid Al Fitr. The Dubai Government has started taking the necessary steps to implement Sheikh Mohammed's directives. Abdulrahman Saleh Al Saleh, Director of Dubai’s Department of Finance, extended thanks to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid for the gesture, which he said reflects His Highness’ keenness to support government employees in meeting their families' requirements and needs prior to Eid and help them spend quality time with them during the upcoming holiday. Ajman Ruler orders early salary payment on occasion of Eid Al Fitr Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ajman, has ordered early salary transfers for all employees of the Government of Ajman's departments and institutions on 20th June, on the occasion of Eid Al Fitr. Sheikh Humaid's gesture aimed at helping families ensure they can meet all their needs and requirements in the run up to Eid Al Fitr. He also wished further welfare and prosperity for the UAE's leadership and people. The Department of Finance - Ajman has started implementing the Ruler's directives and taking the necessary measures to ensure that salaries are transferred to banks on time.
news
10-06-2017
Multiple countries cut ties with Qatar Decision follows Qatar’s support to terrorist groups
On Monday, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilising the region with its support for terrorist groups, and banned their citizens to travel to Doha, and announced the closure of land, maritime and airspace borders to Qatari transport vehicles, aircraft and sea vessels. Similar move was followed by Libya, the Maldives, and Comoros, whereas Jordan announced downgrading its diplomatic representation in Qatar and the cancellation of the license of Al Jazeera channel in the Kingdom. The Mauritanian authorities have also officially cut diplomatic relations with Qatar, and Djibouti announced reduction in its diplomatic representation with Qatar. On the other hand, Senegal called its ambassador in Qatar and expressed its support to Saudi Arabia. Qatar was also expelled from a Saudi-led coalition in fighting in Yemen. Emirates Post halts services to Qatar Emirates Post Group has suspended postal services to Qatar from all of its postal offices in the UAE from 6th June, until further notice. The EPG also advised all customers that apart from temporarily stopping the delivery of mail items to the State of Qatar, all as yet undelivered items will be returned with the corresponding postal fees according to procedures and regulations. Measures for safeguarding GCC states interests In a statement on its website, the UAE Ministry of State for Foreign Affairs said: “The UAE affirms its complete commitment and support to the Gulf Cooperation Council and to the security and stability of the GCC States. Within this framework, and based on the insistence of the State of Qatar to continue to undermine the security and stability of the region and its failure to honour international commitments and agreements, it has been decided to take the following measures that are necessary for safeguarding the interests of the GCC States in general and those of the brotherly Qatari people in particular: 1-In support of the statements issued by the sisterly Kingdom of Bahrain and sisterly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates severs all relations with the State of Qatar, including breaking off diplomatic relations, and gives Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the UAE. 2-Preventing Qatari nationals from entering the UAE or crossing its points of entry, giving Qatari residents and visitors in the UAE 14 days to leave the country for precautionary security reasons. The UAE nationals are likewise banned from traveling to or staying in Qatar or transiting through its territories. 3-Closure of UAE airspace and seaports for all Qataris in 24 hours and banning all Qatari means of transportation, coming to or leaving the UAE, from crossing, entering or leaving the UAE territories, and taking all legal measures in collaboration with friendly countries and international companies with regards to Qataris using the UAE airspace and territorial waters, from and to Qatar, for national security considerations. The UAE is taking these decisive measures as a result of the Qatari authorities’ failure to abide by the Riyadh Agreement on returning GCC diplomats to Doha and its Complementary Arrangement in 2014, and Qatar’s continued support, funding and hosting of terror groups, primarily Islamic Brotherhood, and its sustained endeavours to promote the ideologies of Daesh and Al Qaeda across its direct and indirect media in addition to Qatar’s violation of the statement issued at the US-Islamic Summit in Riyadh on May 21st, 2017 on countering terrorism in the region and considering Iran a state sponsor of terrorism. The UAE measures are taken as well based on Qatari authorities’ hosting of terrorist elements and meddling in the affairs of other countries as well as their support of terror groups – policies which are likely to push the region into a stage of unpredictable consequences. While regretting the policies taken by the State of Qatar that sow seeds of sedition and discord among the region’s countries, the UAE affirms its full respect and appreciation for the brotherly Qatari people on account of the profound historical, religious and fraternal ties and kin relations binding UAE and Qatari peoples."
news
08-06-2017
Saudi Arabia revokes license of Qatar Airways, offices to close
Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has revoked the license of Qatar Airways and ordered its offices to to be closed within 48 hours, the regulatory body said said in a statement. Any licenses granted to Qatar Airways employees would also be withdrawn, the statement said. The move comes a day after GACA banned all Qatari planes from landing in the kingdom's airports, following the worst rift in years among the Gulf countries.
news
07-06-2017
Border closure hits Qataris hard
AL-AHSA — Many Qataris who own land and property in Al-Ahsa will be negatively affected by the Kingdom’s decision to close borders with Qatar, Al-Riyadh reported. Saudi-Qatari Businesses Council member Othman Al-Qanna said commercial relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar have ancient and deep roots. “Saudi Arabia has been trading with Qatar in various sectors for decades including transportation, real estate and agriculture. Blocking the borders between the two countries will have devastating effect on Qatar as it does not have any other terrestrial exit than its border with the Kingdom,” said Al-Qanna. He added the Kingdom used to facilitate trade for Qataris. “Qataris had the same rights as Saudis when it came to trade and economic dealings. The markets in Al-Ahsa used to be filled with Qatari shoppers all year round as it is the closest governorate to the Qatari borders,” said Al-Qanna. He added Qataris used to buy food products and construction material from Al-Ahsa and transport the items back to Qatar without any limit or custom taxes. Many Qataris have million riyals investment in Al-Ahsa. There are Qatari investors in hotels, farms, real estate and other sectors. Ibrahim Al-Dowsary said the Kingdom is the only terrestrial exit for Qatar. “All of Qatar’s imports and exports come through the Kingdom’s border. Millions of trucks and car commute between the two countries on a daily basis. Blocking the borders is greatly damaging to Qatar. Saudi businessmen are also great contributors to the Qatari economy,” said Al-Dowsary. He added Saudi businessmen own millions of riyals of investments in the Qatari stock market. “Saudis are in fact the biggest investors in the Qatari stock market. Saudis also have big investments in the Qatari transportation sector. Moreover, Al-Ahsa is considered the number one shopping destination for Qataris. They mostly come for Al-Qaysariyah Market, Al-Hadadid Street, Al-Majid Street, Al-Aitham Mall. Al-Ahsa used to have more Qatari shoppers than Saudis. But that will all change over the next few days,” said Al-Dowsary.
news
06-06-2017
Emirates, Flydubai, Air Arabia and Etihad suspends flights to and from Qatar
Emirates has announced that it will suspend its flights to and from Doha, starting from the morning of 6th June, until further notice. In a statement today, the company said, "The last flight from Dubai to Doha will depart as EK847 at 02:30 a.m. on 6th June. The last flight from Doha to Dubai will depart as EK848 at 03:50 a.m. on 6th June. "Emirates’ flights to and from Doha today (5th June), will operate as normal. Travellers bound for Doha, who are boarding their flight from airports around the Emirates network today (5th June), will be advised to make alternative arrangements. "All customers booked on Emirates’ flights to and from Doha will be provided with alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternate Emirates destinations." Air Arabia to suspend flights to Qatar from Tuesday An Air Arabia spokesperson today confirmed that flights between UAE and Qatar will be suspended effective June 6th, until further notice. In a statement, the airline said that Air Arabia passengers who hold existing reservations on Air Arabia flights to Doha beyond the 5th of June will be provided with the option of a full refund, or to be rebooked onto other destinations across Air Arabia’s network. The last outbound flight from Sharjah to Doha (G9134) will depart today, June 5th at 18:30 (local time), while the last inbound flight from Doha to Sharjah (G9135) will depart today, June 5th at 19:25 (local time). Air Arabia flights between Ras al-Khaimah and Doha will also be suspended starting June 6th, 2017. "Air Arabia regrets any inconvenience caused by the suspension," it added. Etihad suspends flights to and from Qatar Etihad Airways has announced that it will suspend all flights to and from Qatar until further notice. According to an Etihad statement today, Etihad flights to Doha will operate as scheduled on Monday, but the services will stop from Tuesday, 6th June, until further notice. "The last flight from Abu Dhabi to Doha will depart as EY399 at 02:45 (local time) on 6th June. The last flight from Doha to Abu Dhabi will depart as EY390 at 04:00 (local time) on 6th June. Flights on 5th June will operate as normal," added the statement. The statement added that all customers who are booked on Etihad Airways flights to and from Doha are being provided with alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and free re-booking to the nearest alternate Etihad Airways destinations. Flydubai to suspend all flights between Dubai and Doha Flydubai has announced that that it will suspend all flights to and from Qatar starting for tomorrow. According to a Flydubai statement today, the carrier said that all flights starting Tuesday would be suspended. "Travellers who have purchased tickets between Dubai and Doha should contact their travel agent, flydubai store in Doha, or through the call centre in Dubai to retrieve ticket value," added the statement.
news
06-06-2017
UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar
6.40 AM Tuesday, 6 June 2017 RSS Feeds Pinterest Google+ Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube LinkedIn Home News Emirates Government Region World Law & Order Entertainment Lifestyle Offbeat Business Property Sports Classifieds Videos Pictures Bollywood Jobs Gold Rate Home News Government submit Advanced UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar By Wam Published Monday, June 05, 2017 "The UAE affirms its complete commitment and support to the Gulf Cooperation Council and to the security and stability of the GCC States. Within this framework, and based on the insistence of the State of Qatar to continue to undermine the security and stability of the region and its failure to honour international commitments and agreements, it has been decided to take the following measures that are necessary for safeguarding the interests of the GCC States in general and those of the brotherly Qatari people in particular: 1-In support of the statements issued by the sisterly Kingdom of Bahrain and sisterly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates severs all relations with the State of Qatar, including breaking off diplomatic relations, and gives Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the UAE. 2-Preventing Qatari nationals from entering the UAE or crossing its points of entry, giving Qatari residents and visitors in the UAE 14 days to leave the country for precautionary security reasons. The UAE nationals are likewise banned from traveling to or staying in Qatar or transiting through its territories. 3-Closure of UAE airspace and seaports for all Qataris in 24 hours and banning all Qatari means of transportation, coming to or leaving the UAE, from crossing, entering or leaving the UAE territories, and taking all legal measures in collaboration with friendly countries and international companies with regards to Qataris using the UAE airspace and territorial waters, from and to Qatar, for national security considerations. The UAE is taking these decisive measures as a result of the Qatari authorities’ failure to abide by the Riyadh Agreement on returning GCC diplomats to Doha and its Complementary Arrangement in 2014, and Qatar’s continued support, funding and hosting of terror groups, primarily Islamic Brotherhood, and its sustained endeavours to promote the ideologies of Daesh and Al Qaeda across its direct and indirect media in addition to Qatar’s violation of the statement issued at the US-Islamic Summit in Riyadh on May 21st, 2017 on countering terrorism in the region and considering Iran a state sponsor of terrorism. The UAE measures are taken as well based on Qatari authorities’ hosting of terrorist elements and meddling in the affairs of other countries as well as their support of terror groups – policies which are likely to push the region into a stage of unpredictable consequences. While regretting the policies taken by the State of Qatar that sow seeds of sedition and discord among the region’s countries, the UAE affirms its full respect and appreciation for the brotherly Qatari people on account of the profound historical, religious and fraternal ties and kin relations binding UAE and Qatari peoples." Egypt severs diplomatic relations with Qatar The Egyptian government has decided to sever diplomatic relations with the State of Qatar in light of the insistence of the Qatari government to take an anti-Egyptian stance and the failure of all attempts to dissuade it from supporting terrorist organisations, especially the Muslim Brotherhood organisation and its leaders, who have been sentenced in the course of terrorist operations targeting the security and safety of Egypt. The Middle East News Agency quoted a statement issued by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry as saying that the decision is the result of Qatar's promotion of al-Qaeda and Daesh's ideologies and supporting the terrorist operations in Sinai, as well as Qatar's insistence on interfering in the internal affairs of Egypt and the countries of the region. Bahrain severs relations with Qatar Based on the insistence of the State of Qatar to continue to undermine the security and stability of the Kingdom of Bahrain and to interfere in its domestic affairs, as well as on the escalation and incitement of its media and its support of acts of terror, and its financing of armed groups associated with Iran to carry out subversive attacks and spread chaos in the Kingdo
news
05-06-2017
Saudi courts to force Saudi Oger to pay employees’ entitlements
JEDDAH – The Executive Court recently announced that verdicts have been issued to force Saudi Oger to pay entitlements to its employees. The Executive Court confirmed that it has granted the company the grace period allowed by the regulations so that it implements the verdict. The Court is in the process of completing procedures to compel the company to pay the dues owed to its employees through sequestration of the company’s properties and assets. Sources have told Okaz that the executive courts are getting ready to take several businessmen, realtors, managers and chairmen of the board of directors of banks and big companies to the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution (BIP) for procrastinating the implementation of final court verdicts.
news
29-05-2017
Saudis ‘Googling’ for housemaids in Ramadan
Jeddah — Hours before the start of Ramadan, search engine Google documented 467,000 pages carrying the sentence “searching for maids in Saudi,” and 257,000 pages with the words “housemaid sponsorship transfer” and “domestic help for hire for a month.” Despite the fact that agents are active weeks before the holy month fulfilling the need of families for domestic help in Ramadan, the online search for housemaids indicate that there is a thriving black market in this field. The fees for sponsorship transfer jumped from SR15,000 to SR35,000. The fee differs based on nationalities. There is an increased demand in Ramadan from families for domestic help, which is met by an increase in wages demanded by housemaids. Domestic helps also exploit the need of families and decide to work on an hourly payment basis in Ramadan, with wages ranging from SR25 to SR40 an hour. The wages differ based on the number of family members and the size of the house. It has been estimated that some of these housemaids earn between SR8,000 and SR9,000 in Ramadan. A Saudi female lawyer Najwa Filimban said that these ads constitute human trafficking which is banned by the Saudi law. She said that the ads on sponsorship transfer or sponsors allowing their housemaids to work for others for a fee are similar to slavery. Those who post such ads can be imprisoned for a maximum of 15 years and/or fined SR1 million. In Bahrain, authorities filed a case of human trafficking against a recruitment agency which placed an ad earlier this month offering an Ethiopian housemaid as a prize for a Ramadan contest. The contest had only one condition: the winner must have a work permit for the housemaid.
news
26-05-2017
Labor minister signs agreement to recruit Kenyan workers
JEDDAH: The Saudi Minister of Labor and Social Development, Ali bin Nasser Al-Ghafees, and his Kenyan counterpart on Thursday signed an agreement for the recruitment of Kenyan domestic workers to meet growing demand for experienced and skilled domestic workers from labor-sending countries. The agreement provides for a legal framework to enhance cooperation between the parties, protect the rights of employers and domestic workers, regulate their contractual relationship, facilitate the recruitment and employment process, and control recruitment costs in both countries. The agreement states that employing domestic workers should only happen via relevant offices, companies or recruitment agencies, or through authorized employment centers in both countries. It also states that the Kenyan Labor Ministry commits to ensuring that the labor force is medically and psychologically qualified to work in the Kingdom, and that domestic workers do not have criminal records, are trained in specialized institutes in domestic work, are aware of Saudi customs and traditions, and meet the terms and conditions of the employment contract. The Kenyan ministry will also facilitate the departure of potential workers to the Kingdom within a month from the date of receiving the entry visa, and ensure workers who have been deported from the Kingdom are not brought back to work there. The ministry will ensure the employment of domestic workers is in accordance with applicable laws, rules and regulations, and will take measures to protect the rights of employers.
news
23-05-2017
Early salary for government staff before May 25 on occasion of Ramadan
Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has ordered the early salary payment for the Federal Government employees, social benefits for Emiratis and retirees as of May 25 on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan. The move follows the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. It also aims to enable families prepare for the holy month of Ramadan.
news
23-05-2017
Kerala leaders at the consulate
Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and former Minister of Culture, Rural Development and Non-Resident Keralite Affairs K.C. Joseph with Consul General Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh and community leaders at the Consulate General of India in Jeddah on Saturday. — Courtesy photo
news
20-05-2017
Take advantage of amnesty, Kerala leader tells compatriots
Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has urged residency law violators in the Indian community to take advantage of the general amnesty announced by the Saudi authorities and leave the country. He expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made by the Indian embassy and the consulate in facilitating the exit procedures of visa overstayers and violators. Chandy made the remarks while addressing a press conference in Riyadh on Thursday, the first day of his three-day visit to the Kingdom. He attended several functions and programs in Riyadh and Dammam on Thursday and Friday, and will visit Jeddah on Saturday. Former Kerala Minister of Culture, Rural Development and Non-Resident Keralite Affairs K.C. Joseph is also accompanying Chandy during the visit. Chandy held talks with officials of Deportation Center (Tarheel) in Shumaisi and the Indian embassy about the arrangements being made to facilitate the departure of visa violators to leave the Kingdom before ending the 90-day grace period. “During the talks, the Tarheel officials underscored the need for creating awareness among expatriates about the need to abide by the labor and residency rules and take advantage of the current amnesty period, which would be the last of its kind,” Chandy said while expressing satisfaction over the vast arrangements at the Shumaisi deportation center where special counters have been set up for Indian expatriates to process their exit procedures. Chandy also visited the Indian embassy and held talks with Hemant Kotalwar, Charge d’ Affaires, and Anil Nautiyal, public information officer for community welfare matters. Chandy, a senior leader of the Indian National Congress party, urged the Election Commission of India to introduce online voting system for the Indian expatriates in future elections. He said the previous United Democratic Front (UDF) government led by him took serious steps to include expatriates in the voters’ list. The Kerala leader asked the Indian civil aviation authorities to take measures to stop the practice by airline companies of hiking fares during the summer vacation and the festival seasons. He drew attention to a series of unsuccessful measures taken over the years to resolve the travel-related issues of expatriates. “We had an ambitious plan to launch the Air Kerala service but unfortunately the conditions set by the federal government stood in the way of realizing this project,” he said. Norka Consultant Shihab Kottukad, OICC leaders C.M. Kunhi Kumbala, Abdullah Vallanchira, Ismail Erumeli, Shaji Sona, Shaji Kunnikkode, and Shafeeq Kinalur were also present at the press conference. Chandy and Joseph attended more than two dozen programs and activities on the first two days of their visit to Riyadh and Dammam. They held talks with community leaders, listened to the grievances of blue-collar workers and nurses, and attended the receptions hosted by the Overseas Indian Cultural Congress (OICC). They will attend several programs and receptions in Jeddah on Saturday. All the preparations and arrangements are in place to receive the Keralite leader, according to K.T.A. Muneer, president of the western regional committee of the OICC.
news
19-05-2017
Remittance: Govt to take no fee
Bangladeshi migrant workers will be able to send home their hard-earned money free of cost likely from July as the government has made a move to boost the remittance inflow. In the next budget, Tk 500 crore to TK 700 crore might be allocated to bear the cost of remittance transfer, according to finance ministry officials. As remittance fell drastically recently, the government is taking initiatives to encourage expatriates to send money through banking channels. From a meeting at the finance ministry on Thursday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued a set of directives on providing incentives to expatriate Bangladeshis. Finance Minister AMA Muhith and top officials of the ministry participated in the meeting for discussing the next national budget. Yesterday, at a pre-budget view-exchange meeting with economic reporters at his secretariat office, Muhith said the prime minister had directed the ministry to ensure that the expatriate Bangladeshis do not have to pay for sending money home. As per the PM's directives, the ministry will take initiatives in the next budget, he added. The minister also said the remittance inflow dropped as the income of the expatriates fell in the Middle East countries this year. Besides, many migrant workers are making some savings abroad instead of sending the whole of their income. Remittance from expatriates is one of the main pillars of Bangladesh economy. Though manpower export is on the rise, remittance is on the decline. In 2015-16, it went down by 2.52 percent from the previous fiscal year. In the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, it fell by around 17 percent. Last week, a five-member committee was formed from a high-level meeting held at the finance ministry. It would make recommendations to the government in the next two weeks about how the incentives would be given to the migrants. Earlier, as per the finance minister's directives, a two-member team of Bangladesh Bank visited several countries, including those in the Middle East, to find out the causes of decrease in remittance inflow. The team submitted a report to the finance ministry. It found that expatriates have experienced a fall in their income in the Middle Eastern countries. Besides, they are sending money home through hundi, an unauthorised way of money transaction. The unofficial exchange rate is much higher than the official rate. The cost of sending money through the official channel is also higher than in hundi. According to Dilip Ratha, a migration and remittance expert of World Bank, international migrants have to bear high charges of remitting money. The global average cost of sending $200 remained flat at 7.45 percent in the first quarter of this year. The rate is significantly higher than the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of 3 percent.
news
15-05-2017
14 recruitment offices shut down
Riyadh — A total of 14 recruitment offices were permanently closed down and another 40 faced temporary shutdown for violation of recruitment rules and regulations. Spokesman of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development Khaled Abalkhail said in a press statement on Sunday that labor inspectors conducted 661 visits to several recruitment offices and companies from Jan. 1 to April 30 in a bid to make sure that they comply with rules and regulations. He said the ministry solved 174 complaints filed against recruitment offices and companies. He urged citizens to report any violations through the unified customer service number, 19911, or by visiting the Musaned website (https://www.musaned.gov.sa/) or by visiting the nearest MLSD branch. The ministry is keen to protect the rights of Saudi nationals from illegal practices including exploitation and breach of contracts, emphasized Abalkhail. He stressed that inspection campaigns will never lose momentum to track down violators. According to the ministry, the Musaned website is a full-fledged platform that lists 605 recruitment offices and has a databank of over 40,000 domestic workers’ resumes. A total of 61,411 domestic workers were recruited through the website. The ministry highlighted that the Musaned website is a positive shift that allows Saudi citizens to recruit domestic workers. It aims to develop the domestic labor sector in the Kingdom.
news
08-05-2017
Law needed to restrain male behavior in mixed-gender workplaces: Study
DAMMAM — A prominent sociologist has suggested new legislation to restrain men who pose a threat in mixed-gender work environments through their menacing behavior toward women colleagues. Eman Al-Adwani said the Saudi labor law does not include articles that clearly define workplace harassment and set out punishment for abusive behavior. Al-Adwani conducted a research study on the rights of women working in the retail sector as envisaged in the labor law. She presented her findings and recommendations to the Department of Shariah and Law at Naif Arab University for Security Sciences. In her study, Al-Adwani highlighted how the Saudi Labor Law currently lacks any mechanism to address the abuse and harassment women employees face in the private sector. “The labor law needs articles that clearly define all types of harassment as well as punishments for them,” said Al-Adwani. “There are two types of harassment female employees generally go through. The first type is verbal and physical harassment; it is initiated directly or indirectly through sexually explicit remarks and inappropriate stares or gestures. The second type is blackmail and often involves withholding promotions and other incentives unless the victim responds positively to her superior’s wishes,” she added. Al-Adwani’s study explores the main problems and requirements of female employees in their workplaces. “From an Islamic perspective, both men and women are encouraged to work. Islam also makes it clear that women should be protected from all sorts of harm in the workplace,” Al-Adwani pointed out. It is also important to recognize and appreciate the fact that women’s inclusion in the job market had brought massive benefits to the national economy and Saudi society as a whole, she said. For the most part, the labor law does not differentiate between women and men but for a few exceptions. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development was the first authority to give women the permission to work in the retail sector. Implementing the decision in stages, the ministry sought to gradually introduce women into the national workforce. “Now the onus is on the Ministry of Labor to further help women by punishing men who harass them in their places of work,” added Al-Adwani.
news
06-05-2017
The dark world of illegals in Oman Desperate people are smuggled into Oman to work odd jobs in order to feed their families back home
Muscat: Ahmad Rasheed, a Pakistani national, who entered Oman illegally one year ago, hunts for odd jobs every day. “I risked my life just to put food on the table for my family back home,” Rasheed told Gulf News. Rasheed sold his family land to pay the agent who smuggled him on foot from Pakistan into Iran. From there, him and eight others the took a boat to Oman, but because they were packed like sardines in a dark cabin for three days, they became susceptible to disease. “Two died of malaria on board and their bodies were thrown out to sea.” When he finally arrived in Oman’s Shinas province, Rasheed was greeted by a fellow Pakistani national who hid him and the others in a farm for two weeks before heading to the capital. In Muscat, he began working odd jobs where he would earn anywhere between 60-190 Omani riyals a month. The meager wages, compared to the average Omani monthly income of 450 riyals, are barely enough to survive. “I send 50 riyals back home to my family and the rest I spend on food and rent,” he says. Rasheed pays around 10 riyals a month for a bedspace in a room that he shares with eight other workers. Job opportunities for illegals are hard to come by because of the large volume of illegals competing for jobs—most coming from Pakistan, Iran and Yemen but also from India, Bangladesh, Somalia and Afghanistan. Most of them work in the construction sector for eight riyals per day. Rasheed lives under extreme pressure to find work each day coupled with the fear that he could be arrested and deported anytime. “I regret now coming,” he said, adding that he can’t even afford to eat some days, even though a cheap meal costs only 700 Baiza. Rasheed is planning to stay for another six months and if his situation does not improve he will hand himself over to Omani authorities for deportation. “I don’t think I have any more options. The situation here is very difficult. I pray to Allah to find another job back home,” he said. According to Royal Oman Police (ROP) estimates, two people entered Oman illegally everyday in 2016 which amounts to around 700 illegals a year. Hundreds have been arrested and deported and despite Omani authorities warning companies not to hire the workers, many still do because of how cheap they are willing to work for. “The illegals are not only an economic threat to the country, but also threaten the country’s social fabric,” an ROP official who declined to be named told Gulf News. Many, who find themselves in desperate situations, resort to theft and drug dealing to survive. Oman, because of its proximity to many narcotic producing nations, has become a go-to point to transit the drugs. Authorities also worry about the spread of disease, since illegals are not screened by health authorities. In 2014, authorities began a serious crackdown on illegals, resulting in a 43 per cent drop in their numbers. They intensified security sweeps in industrial areas and farms where the illegals are usually hidden by the smugglers. Also, more people are coming forward to report illegals, which has also helped authorities. Entry points Where the illegals enter the country, depends largely on their nationalities. Most traffickers use the northern and south coast of Batinah governorate. Yemeni and Somali infiltrators enter from the rugged mountains of the Dhofar governorate in the south of Oman. Iranian infiltrators sneak into the country via the Khassab province of the Musandam region, which lies only 50 kilometres from the Strait of Hormuz.
news
05-05-2017
Entry visas on arrival for Indians with US visas or green card holders
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced that as of Monday, 1st May, entry visas will be granted to Indians holding standard passports with United States, US, visas or are US green card holders, upon their arrival at UAE ports. Ahmed Al Dhaheri, Assistant Under-Secretary for Consular Affairs at the Ministry, explained that these new procedures are based on a decision by the Council of Ministers to allow holders of standard passports issued by the Republic of India to obtain an entry visa upon arrival at UAE ports for Dh100, with the possibility of staying for a period up to 14 days providing that the validity of their passport and their US visa or green card is not less than six months. The same period of stay can be extended once for a similar period with the same payment. He stressed that this decision reflects the desire of the UAE Government to strengthen its co-operation with the Government of India, which will positively affect the development of bilateral relations between both countries and enhance their co-operation in the tourism, economic and investment sectors. The UAE is considered an attractive destination in the region for visitors and business owners from around the world, he added.
news
04-05-2017
Human rights experts needed
THE best the Shoura Council has come out with this season is the report on the Kingdom’s compliance with international charters, conventions, treaties and agreements ratified by it. This ensued a Shoura Council’s study on the performance of the Human Rights Commission (HRC). The best thing in this report, truly, is the recommendation calling for producing Saudi staff with international experience in all human rights fields. Such employees can work as envoys, investigators and experts in international organizations. The recommendations stress the need to train Saudi personnel to work in posts of rapporteurs and envoys. Such staff can look into certain international cases and issues. This will enable the Kingdom to have an impact on the international arena, the report said. I have written repeatedly on this subject for many years. However, it is better for something to come late than never. Actually, we have a clear shortcoming in dealing with international organizations. We left them to seek their information from unqualified people, those who engage in double-dealing and others who harbor hatred against our country. As a result, these organizations come out with illogical reports that are totally against us. I have said this earlier and I reiterate: These organizations are not to blame and we do not have the right to blow our top when they issue unfair and biased reports against us, as they are devoid of any correct and authentic information. This is because we are the ones who have left them to look for sources of information that do not depict the real situation in Saudi Arabia. They do not present the correct perspective, irrespective of reports being in our interest or against us. What is important is that we should have qualified and sincere Saudis, who are capable of dealing logically with these organizations. They should be capable of providing all the information required by these organizations so that they do not resort to double-standards! As to the second issue, I recall it very well. I wish the Shoura Council discusses this point in particular during the sessions on the Human Rights Commission report. The issue is the United Nations halls being vacant of any Saudi organizations or societies when the Kingdom’s reports are presented. I visited the UN earlier and attended discussions on several international reports. This was during a course at the Geneva Institute for Human Rights. I had discussions with a number of officials and representatives of international societies and organizations there. The arrangement of seats (in UN halls) is such that usually there are equal seats for international societies and organizations when the report of any country is discussed. They informed me that whenever Saudi reports are discussed, the Saudi government side is full. Meanwhile, there is no representation from nongovernment organizations and societies. The way I see this matter, there is a shortcoming in this connection because those who fill the Saudi NGO seats are foreign quarters that do not represent us. By leaving these seats empty, we have allowed such foreign quarters alone to occupy the vacant slots. There are many issues in the field of rights, especially at the international level and in connection with local societies. Probably establishing societies that specialize in women’s and children’s rights will put an end to such seats remaining vacant. They will not give way to those who have ulterior motives and are bent on fault-finding. Such people always make sure that they alone have access to such organizations.
news
02-05-2017
More jobs in insurance sector to be nationalized: SAMA governor
RIYADH — Technical and managerial jobs in the insurance sector will be soon nationalized, according to Ahmed Al-Kholifey, governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA). “About 58 percent of the jobs in the insurance and reinsurance companies have so far been Saudized,” he said during his opening speech at the 4th Saudi Insurance Symposium in Riyadh on Sunday. Al-Kholifey said that SAMA, in cooperation and coordination with the Ministry of Education, is granting scholarships to Saudi students to study actuarial sciences within the program of “Your Scholarship is your Profession”. SAMA also cooperates with a number of Saudi universities, headed by King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals and King Saud University, which provide such specialization to students. The SAMA governor highlighted the most important challenges facing the insurance sector in the Kingdom, its low contribution to the GDP recording 1.5% last year. He said SAMA has asked all car insurance companies to establish two separate departments, one for claims and the second for customer care. “Jobs in these two departments could fully be nationalized,” he said. Al-Kholifey referred to SAMA’s instructions to insurance companies to deposit the amounts of compensation for the claims and the amounts payable in case of cancellation of a policy directly in bank accounts of beneficiaries through bank transfer via a fast system, and settle claims of third party vehicle insurance for individuals, not exceeding SR2000, within a period not exceeding five business days from the date of receiving the claim. “SAMA has launched 38 new initiatives under the title ‘Insurance Vision 2022’ so as to increase the number of insured cars,” he said, adding that the drop in the number of the insured vehicles have raised the insurance premium. Abdulaziz Al-Sudais, Chairman of the Insurance General Committee, said that the insurance sector has witnessed a remarkable increase, as the total gross written premiums reached SR36.8 billion in 2016, gross claims paid reached SR26 billion and profit growth reached SR2.1 billion compared to SR810 million in 2015 with an increase of 160 percent. Hisham Tashkandi, director of SAMA’s department to supervise the insurance companies, said that since early April the Authority has made new parameters for insurance companies asking them to focus more on the data about drivers rather the cars. “The data should consist of driver’s nationality, age, place of residence and other important information,” he said. Tashkandi said SAMA would give the violating insurance companies three warnings at different times to correct their violations otherwise they would be banned from selling their products.
news
24-04-2017
MLSD seeks stakeholders’ views on mall Saudization
RIYADH – The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) has urged all stakeholders in the private sector to submit their suggestions with regard to the proposal to implement 100 percent Saudization in shopping malls all over the Kingdom. The ministry posted its recommendations in this respect on its community participation portal called “Together We Improve”, which can be accessed through the link http://qarar.ma3an.gov.sa/a/ideas/recent/campaigns/19927. Minister of Labor and Social Development Ali Al-Ghafees on Thursday issued an order to restrict employment in shopping malls to Saudi nationals, who currently make up only one in five staff in the retail sector. Khaled Abalkhail, spokesman for the ministry, said employers and all others affected by the move shall participate in the process of improving the decision taken by the ministry with their suggestions and observations. “The ministry will only give finishing touches to the decision after examining the suggestions and opinions of all stakeholders,” he said. The spokesman said suggestions and proposals could cover those areas such as giving financial support to employers to help them pay the minimum monthly salary of SR3,000 to Saudi employees, support of up to SR1 million for Saudis wishing to own shopping outlets, making available transportation and childcare facilities for women employees, and free training facilities. Abalkhail said the ministry is keen to listen to opinions and suggestions of all stakeholders before announcing the final decision and the deadline for implementing it. The active participation of all those concerned would enable the ministry to take ideal decisions, serving the interests of all parties concerned, he said. Meanwhile, Ahmad Qattan, undersecretary for labor policies at the ministry, urged employers and all those concerned to submit their suggestions with regard to its new guidelines on work ethics, posted on the ministry’s portal. “The guide is aimed at improving the employer-employee relations as well as the work environment, increasing efficiency and productivity of employees, and administration of the firm. The guide also includes several other aspects pertaining to work ethics related to misuse of power, fairness, equal treatment, general appearance, honesty, trustworthiness, etiquette and collective responsibility,” Qattan said. Bank accounts for house helps RIYADH – The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) has launched a scheme to open bank accounts for the disbursement of salaries and allowances of domestic workers. Khaled Abalkhail, spokesman for the ministry, said the scheme aimed at protecting contractual obligations and rights of both domestic work and their employers. The scheme would cover all domestic workers in the Kingdom. Employers must have online documentation of the labor contract through the portal of Musaned (www.musaned.gov.sa), with details of monthly salary and other particulars before opening the bank accounts. The domestic workers can lodge their complaints if any through Musaned portal or by contacting customer service number of 19911, he said.
news
17-04-2017
Lanka ups housemaid recruitment fees by about 92%
DAMMAM — Sri Lankan recruitment offices have turned their back on agreement with their Saudi counterparts by raising housemaid recruitment fees by about 92 percent from US$1,560 to US$3,000, according to chairman of the recruitment committee of the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry Hussain Al-Mutairi. Sri Lankan recruitment offices have stopped travel permits for their manpower and nullified all documents they received from the Kingdom in order to enforce their decision and put pressure on Saudi recruiters, said Mutairi. He said Sri Lankan recruitment offices went against signed agreements and increased the monthly salary of housemaids from SR1,100 to SR1,300 starting February. “The Sri Lankan offices wanted to force their Saudi counterparts to sign new contracts which are contrary to the rates set by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development,” Mutairi said. Market sources said a number of Saudi recruiters were likely to accept the new rates so as to avoid SR100 in fines for every day of delay in the arrival of housemaids. They said that some 300 Sri Lankan recruitment offices made an agreement among themselves to reject any housemaid recruitment request from Saudi Arabia for a fee which is less than US$3,000.
news
13-04-2017
Millions of migrant Gulf workers forced to pay for right to work, say US researchers in a report
NEW YORK: South Asian migrants powering the construction boom in Gulf countries are often illegally made to pay for their own recruitment, adding to hardships of poor working conditions and wages, according to an investigation. Millions of migrants seeking a way out of poverty by working in Gulf nations from Qatar to the UAE must routinely pay fees that can equal a year’s salary, US researchers said in a report. “Recruitment is not free,” said David Segall, of New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, who coauthored the report. “Somebody does have to bear these costs, but that of course should be the employing company.” The findings come as conditions for construction workers from India, Nepal and Bangladesh in the 2022 FIFA World Cup host, Qatar, have come under scrutiny from rights groups who say migrants live in squalor and work without proper access to water and shelter. In five fact-finding missions to the Gulf and South Asia, the researchers found workers are typically made to pay for their airfare from South Asia and their work visa — often at inflated prices. Selling visas for profit is illegal in the six Gulf countries the researchers investigated. But violations are rarely prosecuted and punished by authorities, their report said. Bangladeshi workers paid as much as $5,200 in recruitment fees, according to the study, the highest price among other South Asian construction workers, who number some 10 million people in the Gulf. In rare cases, construction companies took on expenditures to recruit their workers, the study found. The fees had the effect of pushing already destitute migrants further into poverty by tying them to high-interest loans. “These are people who are already desperate enough that they feel that they need to undertake this journey, leave their families in order to just achieve the possibility of economic success,” Segall told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “For them to be in debt before they even start this journey is really an injustice,” he said in a phone interview. Reports of abuse against migrant domestic workers have prompted countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Indonesia to ban their citizens in recent years from seeking jobs in the Middle East. The New York University report expands on the findings of an investigation conducted in Qatar and released last week, which concluded hundreds of Asian workers paid recruitment fees.
news
11-04-2017
Sponsors to be fined for failure to receive housemaids at airports
DAMMAM — Sponsors who do not turn up at airports to receive housemaids will be fined, Ministry of Labor and Social Development spokesman Khalid Abalkhail was quoted as saying by Al-Watan Arabic daily on Monday. He said housemaids who are not picked up by their sponsors are taken to a shelter home where they stay for a maximum of 15 days before they are transferred to another sponsor. But the sponsor who hired the maid will be fined SR150 for every day the housemaid stays in the shelter home, said Abalkhail. Eastern Province Passports Department spokesman Col. Mualla Al-Otaibi said if the sponsor does not pick up his housemaid within 12 hours of her arrival she is sent to Housemaids Affairs Office. The passports department office at the airport cooperates with the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, he said. Sponsors can check the arrival status of their housemaids through Abshir portal, said Al-Otaibi. Through the portal sponsors can also assign someone else to pick up housemaids if they are unable to do so personally. “When housemaids arrive at the airport, an employee from recruitment company escorts them through the customs and passports process,” said Al-Otaibi. Sponsors then come to recruitment office representatives at the airport and verify their identity information. Some sponsors complained that the process of picking up housemaids takes a long time. One of the sponsors said he had to wait for six hours before he was able to finally pick up his housemaid.
news
10-04-2017
Vision 2030 aims to increase job opportunities in the recreation sector
Jeddah — Strengthening the recreation sector in line with Saudi Vision 2030 will contribute to providing more job opportunities and decreasing unemployment. It will boost tourism by holding festivals and activities in the regions. It will enable government funds to benefit by contributing to recreation centers and developing them. It will raise the percentage of citizens who exercise from 13 to 40 years of age. It will encourage investments and forging partnerships with international recreation companies.
news
08-04-2017
Indians swarm embassy counter in Dammam to avail amnesty
Hundreds of Indians have swarmed special Indian Embassy counter opened at International Indian School Dammam (Boys Section) to facilitate issuance of Emergency Certificate (temporary passport) to those whose stay in the Kingdom has become illegal. The Saudi government has announced an amnesty period of three months in which all illegal expatriates must leave the Kingdom, without any penalty or jail term. The Saudi government has warned of severe punishment for illegals after the amnesty period. Ironically the Labor office has stopped giving appointment to the illegals — the perquisite of departure to have interview at the Labor office prior to stamping of exit. According to voluntary organizations working alongside the embassy at the school premises, the labor office has stopped giving appointments. These voluntary organizations create a temporary account for the applicant on the basis of EC and then seek appointment. According to Shahjahan, a social activist from South Indian State of Kerala the labor office is not giving any new appointment. “It is frustrating because now any new appointment will be given after April 30. That means one month of the three-month amnesty period will automatically lapse,” he said. Saudi Gazette could not get any comment from the Labor department as no one responded to the calls. However, an official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Saudi Gazette that the requests for appointments are unprecedented. “You are viewing with only Indian perspective while we have to tackle nationals from more than a dozen countries. He said that the appointments would soon restart.” Many voluntary organizations are anticipating that the government may extend the amnesty period considering the huge number of illegals. According to Kailash Dariya, an Indian Embassy official, who has devised a very coordinated plan to attend to the Indian expatriates, in the last five days they have issued more than 1,000 ECs. “It is an unending queue but we are determine to clear each and every request of EC,” he said. It is very evident that the current team in Dammam is understaffed and they need more people from Riyadh. The role of the embassies is essentially restricted to issuance of travel document in case its nationals do not possess valid passport. The Indian Embassy has shown an extremely flexible approach and has simplified rules to facilitate issue of travel papers. The most appalling sight at the school premises was presence of huge number of women and children among the EC seekers. None of the families were ready to speak for the fear of punitive action by the authorities. It was painful to see that several Indian expatriates, who are today standing in the queue as illegals, are essentially victims of either their sponsors or their once flourishing companies, which have now gone bankrupt. The enormity of the situation can be assessed from the fact that just last year one of the previously listed construction company in Dammam, which was eventually facing liquidation and whose major shareholders were recently sentenced to jail terms for fraudulent activities, needed over SR40 million to renew Iqamas of its employees. The company obviously lacking funds failed to renew Iqamas of its several hundred employees who eventually became illegal. On top of that the company did not give the passports to its staff, who also did not receive salaries for several months. Similarly in Jubail a contracting company brought 27 employees from India and Bangladesh and without Iqama and work permit put them to work on site. When these employees protested for their salaries and filed a case against their company, the court immediately gave the verdict in favor of the employees. But unfortunately the verdict was never executed. These employees suffered all these time and now today are standing in long queues as illegals. The fact of the matter is that they are not illegal but victim of some very illegal practices. The tragedy is that the workers will go eventually in a very undignified way whereas real culprits — their sponsors are untouched and unscathed. Meanwhile Dariya, the embassy official at the IISD counter clarified that the team will continue to attend Indian nationals seeking ECs five days a week — from Sunday until Thursday. “We will ensure that each and every application is cleared before we wind up our operation here,” he said
news
05-04-2017
Saudi non-oil private sector posts growth in 1Q of 2017
RIYADH — Saudi Arabia’s non-oil private sector remained entrenched in growth territory at the end of the first quarter of 2017, with sharp rates of expansion in new orders and output underpinning the overall upturn. As a result, companies raised input buying to the greatest extent in 18 months. Despite greater output requirements and increasing backlogs, companies raised their payroll numbers only marginally. Meanwhile, input price inflation climbed to a seven-month high. The survey, sponsored by Emirates NBD and produced by IHS Markit, contains original data collected from a monthly survey of business conditions in the Saudi private sector. Commenting on the Emirates NBD Saudi Arabia PMITM, Tim Fox, Head of Research and Chief Economist at Emirates NBD, said: “Saudi Arabia›s non-oil economy appears to be holding up well amidst ongoing reductions in oil production. Unlike previous periods of expansion however, gains in output and new orders are not being matched by new job growth, while competitive pressures appear to be keeping a lid on the prices firms are able to charge to customers.” The headline seasonally adjusted Emirates NBD Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) – a composite gauge designed to give a single-figure snapshot of operating conditions in the non-oil private sector economy – slipped from February’s 18-month high of 57.0 to 56.4 in March. Nevertheless, the latest reading was consistent with a marked improvement in the overall health of the sector. Moreover, the PMI average for the first quarter of 2017 (56.7) was the highest in one-and-a-half years. The above-50.0 reading for the headline index reflected steep increases in output and new work, though the respective rates of expansion eased since the preceding month. Anecdotal evidence indicated improvements in economic conditions, new projects, more construction work and increased marketing efforts. The rise in new business was mainly driven by domestic demand as growth of new export orders eased to the weakest in four months and was modest. Firms that reported higher levels of new work from abroad, commented on increased marketing efforts, good quality of products and internationally competitive prices offered. In response to greater output requirements, firms raised payroll numbers. However, the rate of job creation was only marginal. This in turn led to higher volumes of outstanding business. In fact, the rate of accumulation was marked as existing resources were insufficient to cope with greater workloads. Purchase prices rose at a solid pace in March, which firms attributed to greater demand for raw materials. However, businesses were restricted in their ability to fully pass on higher cost burdens to clients amid intense competition. Higher volumes of incoming new business prompted firms to raise their input buying. The pace of expansion accelerated to the strongest in one-and-a-half years. Concurrently, the rate of accumulation of input stocks quickened to a 19-month high. A number of firms commented on more projects and forecasts of further improvements in demand as the main factors leading to stock-building initiatives. Moreover, firms remained strongly optimistic toward output over the coming year due to projects in the pipeline, construction work and expectations of further improvements in market demand.
news
05-04-2017
Harsh penalties await violators post-amnesty
JEDDAH — The directorate general of passports has warned the violators of residency and labor violations who remain in the country after the 90-day general amnesty of harsh punishments. Saudi authorities announced the grace period as part of a campaign titled “Nation Without Violators”, which started a week ago giving a chance to illegal residents to leave the country without incurring any penalties. The punishment for the violators who may decide to stay in the country after the end of the amnesty period will include fines, imprisonment and deportation. They will be fingerprinted and will never be able to return to the Kingdom any time in the future, the passport directorate said in a statement. The immigration control has started receiving violators who are voluntarily leaving the Kingdom at all the air, sea and land exit points, the directorate said. According to a report published by local daily Al-Madina on Tuesday, the passport offices are providing the violators with quick services to complete their travel procedures. The passport directorate has made it clear that violators who avail themselves of the amnesty to depart will be exempted from the fines and will not be fingerprinted so that they will be able to return to the Kingdom legally if they wished. With the cooperation of the National Information Center in the Interior Ministry, the records of violators who do not leave the country within the amnesty period will be closed and they will be apprehended in a subsequent crackdown. Maj. Gen. Khaled Al-Huwaish, director of passports in Madinah, has said as many as 229 violators have completed travel procedures at the passport offices in the city. He explained that the exit procedures have two stages: verification of documents and entry of data into the computer system, following which an exit pass will be issued to the violator. Huwaish said the campaign was aimed at enabling the violators to leave the country on their own free will. “The violators include those who came for Haj, Umrah or visit and overstayed after the expiry of their visas, infiltrators across the borders and people who failed to get their residency permits renewed, runaway (huroub) cases and those who have not been issued with residency permits after arriving in the Kingdom on work visas,” Huwaish said. He said the Haj, Umrah and visit overstayers can leave through the exit points after officials making sure that there are no restrictions preventing them from leaving the country. Expats with expired residency permits, those who have been reported runaway workers and those who have not been issued their residency permits will have to visit the passport offices for checking their records and obtaining exit papers. Huwaish said all of the Kingdom’s air, sea and land exit points are operating round the clock to facilitate the departure of violators benefiting from the amnesty. A representative of the Egyptian Embassy told Al-Madina that some 350 nationals in Jeddah and Madinah have completed exit procedures in the past five days.
news
05-04-2017
Expats running from pillar to post to benefit from amnesty
Jeddah — Thousands of expatriate workers with expired resident IDs (iqamas) or those who have not been issued iqamas because their employers have been placed in the red category of the Saudization system or those whose sponsors have died are running from pillar to post to take advantage of the amnesty announced by the authorities. The Directorate General of Passports (Jawazat) says that such workers can leave the Kingdom under the amnesty, but first they must visit a Ministry of Labor and Social Development branch to update relevant information to enable the processing of exit visas. However, when these workers approached the Labor Ministry’s office in Jeddah, they were referred to the Jawazat. But the Jawazat sent them back to the labor office. The Labor Ministry spokesperson Khalid Aba Al-Khail did not respond to requests for comment. According to sources, officials are planning to hold sponsors accountable for such lapses and are working to collect data about them to impose penalties. The hardest hit are construction workers whose iqamas have expired and their employers are in the red category of the Nitaqat Saudization system. The Indian consulate in Jeddah is working with local Saudi authorities to address such issues, according to Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh, Indian Consul General. “Several of our nationals in such categories have approached us. The Indian consulate has taken up the issue with Jawazat and Labor Ministry officials,” he said, adding that ministry officials gave assurance that there would be proper mechanism in place from next week to receive applicants from such categories. Sheikh also said that expatriates who performed Haj without permit are also not able to seek online appointment to visit Jawazat offices to process their exit visa papers.
news
05-04-2017
Over a million housemaid visas issued last year
DAMMAM — As many as 1,089,342 housemaid recruitment visas were issued through the Musaned electronic portal in 2016, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development has announced. It said that 61,411 workers, including 40,750 who have registered their data in the system, benefited from e-services offered by the portal. The ministry established Musaned in 2014 to issue recruitment visas electronically and enlighten all beneficiaries about their rights and duties. More than nine million people have visited the site since it became operational. The system contains all required documents including recruitment application forms as well as those for salary, exit-reentry, iqama (resident ID) and driving license. Hussain Al-Mutairi, chairman of the recruitment committee of the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry, described the program as “excellent.” “Citizens can process recruitment contracts without visiting any service office,” he said. “The subscription in the program is free of charge for citizens and recruitment offices,” he added. Mutairi said the ministry has made it obligatory on all licensed recruitment offices to register in the program. Former deputy chairman of the committee Ibrahim Al-Sanie said the ministry has introduced the program to be a reliable platform which displays recruitment fees, nationalities which can be hired and the time limit for recruitment. “Under the program, recruitment visas are issued electronically,” he said. According to the ministry, there are 605 licensed recruitment offices in the Kingdom employing more than 600,000 Saudis.
news
04-04-2017
Escorts cannot travel without the passport holder
JEDDAH: The Passports Department said that individuals included as escorts on one passport will not be able to travel without the passport’s holder. The agency also said in a statement that it is not possible to add escorts in Saudi passports when issued or renewed. Passports Department spokesman Col. Muhammad bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saad said it is necessary to issue a passport for each individual as it is in the interest of the traveler. Problems can occur when several people hold one passport. If it is lost abroad, all family members will be delayed. Many countries do not issue visas unless each of the visa applicants has a passport of their own. The department’s awareness campaigns are aimed at preserving citizens’ rights and easing travel procedures, calling on citizens intending to travel abroad to make sure of the validity of their passports and to know how much time there is left before it expires
news
20-03-2017
5,480 expats held for flouting labor laws
RIYADH: In a relentless campaign against those violating labor laws, the Ministry of Labor disclosed here on Tuesday that it has booked 5,480 illegal workers following 18,377 field inspections in the private sector. The crackdown has been conducted in various regions of the Kingdom since the beginning of the Islamic calendar nearly two months ago. The ministry said the field visits cover government agencies in all regions as required by regulations. Expats should practice their profession as per the residence permit and work only with the firms that recruited them. The Labor Ministry has zero tolerance for those violating the law. “The ministry will proceed to check all irregularities as committees have been formed to follow up and coordinate with the relevant authorities,” the ministry observed.5,480 expats held for flouting labor laws ABDUL HANNAN TAGO | Published — Wednesday 9 December 2015 RIYADH: In a relentless campaign against those violating labor laws, the Ministry of Labor disclosed here on Tuesday that it has booked 5,480 illegal workers following 18,377 field inspections in the private sector. The crackdown has been conducted in various regions of the Kingdom since the beginning of the Islamic calendar nearly two months ago. The ministry said the field visits cover government agencies in all regions as required by regulations. Expats should practice their profession as per the residence permit and work only with the firms that recruited them. The Labor Ministry has zero tolerance for those violating the law. “The ministry will proceed to check all irregularities as committees have been formed to follow up and coordinate with the relevant authorities,” the ministry observed.
news
20-03-2017
90-day amnesty granted to residency, labor violaters in Saudi Arabia
JEDDAH: The Interior Ministry on Sunday launched a “A Nation Without Violations” campaign to give residency and labor law violators 90 days to leave the country without penalties. Prince Mohammed bin Naif, crown prince, deputy prime minister and minister of interior, urged violators to take advantage of the 90-day grace period, which becomes effective March 29, to correct their status and make use of the assistance provided. The crown prince directed authorities to facilitate the procedures of people who seek to leave the country within the specified period and relieve them from all sanctions. Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki said that 19 government agencies will carry out the campaign. He said the decision covers those who overstayed their Haj or Umrah visit, or any other type of visa. He said procedures will be finalized for violators with no residence or work permits who infiltrated the borders illegally. Travel permits will be issued for those individuals. The General Directorate of Passports and the Immigration Department completed preparations to facilitate the departure of violators. Al-Turki said residents with no identity cards or who overstayed their Haj visa must visit the nearest Passport department to complete the procedures. He also urged citizens and residents not to employ individuals who violated their work or residency permits, or cover up for them. He urged people to report violators by calling 999. Once the grace period passes, penalties will levied against violators who remain. Al-Turki said the same campaign was launched three years ago with more than 2.5 million violators departing under the program. Marine Col. Saher Al-Harbi, spokesman of the Border Guard, said his department had returned thousands of illegal infiltrators who arrived via land and seaports
news
09-03-2017
Expats help tribals with umbrella project
As the rainy season in the UAE comes to an end, Kerala is just gearing up for its next monsoon. A group of UAE-based expatriates are lending a helping hand to unemployed tribal mothers in the state by promoting a brand of handmade umbrellas made by these women. While leading umbrella brands engage in marathon campaigns to capture their share of the 10 million umbrellas sold every year in the state, the group of socially concerned expatriates have come together to help women of Attappadi - the largest tribal pocket in Kerala - to make a living by producing their own brand, Karthumbi. Peace Collective, a group of Non-Resident Keralites, has helped the pilot project in order to provide employment to the to 50 tribal women. The Kochi-based voluntary organisation Thampu, Peace Collective and Karthumbi, a welfare organisation for tribal children, are coming together with the umrella project to provide employment to tribal mothers of Attappadi, a tribal pocket in Kerala's Palghat district. Attappadi is one of the largest tribal settlements in the state. Last year, about 1000 umbrellas were made and sold profitably with the help of loans raised from expatriates. This year, the ambitious plan is for 50,000 umbrellas made by unemployed tribal mothers. "Last year, our FB group members gave a loan of Rs 1,00,000 (Dh 5,500) to the Umbrella Project under Thampu, active in Attappadi. About 1,000 pieces of handmade umbrellas were made and sold in 2016. We have selected 50 unemployed tribal mothers in Attappadi, who lost their jobs after the central government stopped the self-employment scheme," said Rajendra Prasad, who is pioneering the project. "We are getting support from expatriate Keralites for the small-scale project. The tribal mothers can make good umbrellas that can compete with the big brands. It will be available for Rs 350 through direct marketing and online sales, a difference of 150-200 rupees per umbrella compared to big brands. We are giving jobs daily to 50 tribal mothers who work eight hours to make eight to ten umbrellas per day in their own homes," said Dubai-based Chinthu Ratna Ravindran, coordinator of the Peace Collective FB group. The new batch of umbrellas are expected to be ready for sales by May this year. "Peace Collective's online group in Dubai have supported the tribal mothers of Attappadi and we are trying to get some more loans from the expatriate supporters to make 50,000 umbrellas this year. "Whatever money was lent to the women last year was returned after the umbrellas were profitably sold. This year, the plan is to expand the umbrella making and in the process, each tribal mother will get Rs500 per day by making 10 umbrellas. For each umbrella, they get Rs 50 as wages," said Prasad, who is in Dubai to meet the online mentors. "Our dream is to reach the 50,000 umbrellas goal this air and give financial support to the women," he said. The Peace Collective group on Facebook - with members from India, USA and the UAE - was originally a small Google Plus group among friends. "Fifty members have contributed some capital for the umbrella unit. This year, the government of Kerala has given a Rs1.6 million loan for the project and the remaining amount will be raised through small scale loans from the expatriate community; each member is trying to get Dh500 and will be returned by October after selling the umbrellas," said Ravindran, a medical professional based in Abu Dhabi. "Last year, we spent Rs100,000 and the money was returned to the lenders in October. We also plan to help them make soaps and detergents. Selling 30,000 umbrellas through direct marketing will not be a big problem in a state where Rs150 crore is spend every year for buying umbrellas." The umbrellas are being sold through direct marketing in Kerala colleges and schools; Rs 100 coupons are sold directly to the students and in-state government department hostels which provide free umbrellas.
news
04-03-2017
Jeddah to put up check-in hall outside King Abdulaziz Airport
JEDDAH: Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, adviser to King Salman and governor of Makkah region, has instructed that a luggage delivery and travel procedures service center be established in Jeddah. The center, to be built in collaboration with the Integration Development Center, will be completed in five months. Saudi Arabian Airlines will use the facility. Its location in the Al-Rawdah neighborhood, on Prince Saud Al-Faisal Street, will make it easier for the residents and visitors to navigate the city. Pilgrims traveling through King Abdulaziz International Airport will find the service especially beneficial. The command came after meetings held by Saudi Arabian Airlines and the Integration Development Center, in which they discussed the possibility of establishing a project similar to the center in Riyadh. Mohammed Al-Qahtani, legal adviser and assistant director of the Integration Development Center in Makkah, said that Saudi Arabian Airlines has already signed an agreement with a contractor to construct the building on a 2,000-square-meter area. “Passengers, whether visitors or pilgrims, will be able … to process the luggage delivery and travel procedures much faster, and that will ease the burden on both airports and passengers, especially at peak times,” said Al-Qahtani. The center will be established just as Jeddah’s new airport is about to be completed, which will bring in larger numbers of passengers. Nearly 31 million passengers passed through Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport last year, an increase of almost 1 million over 2015.
news
03-03-2017
Foreign remittances from Saudi Arabia decline by almost 7% in January
RIYADH: Monthly foreign remittances have declined by 6.7 percent, down SR907 million from SR13.52 billion in December 2016, reaching SR12.61 billion in January. According to an Al-Eqtisadiya report, despite having declined, January remittances remain high compared to the SR11.75 billion average remittances over the previous 12 months. The report showed that annual foreign remittances in January increased overall by 4.86 percent over January 2016. Remittances were the highest on record in June 2015, when SR15.8 billion were transferred abroad, a positive difference of 20.3 percent or SR3.22 billion higher than the figure of January 2017. In July 2015, remittances reached the lowest point since February 2013, with only SR10.3 billon sent abroad. In 2016, a total of SR151.9 billion were transferred by foreign workers to their home countries, compared to SR156.9 billion the previous year, which represented a 3 percent decline of around SR5 billion, constituting the first annual decline after a consecutive 11-year growth trend (between 2005 and 2015). As for transfers made by Saudi citizens abroad, in January, the report shows a 13.4 percent growth in January, when it reached SR4.95 billion, compared to SR4.37 billion in December 2016. Transfers in January were the highest since October 2016, when a total of SR5.36 billion was transferred abroad by Saudi nationals. This represents a consecutive three-month increase in transfers abroad. On an annual basis, however, transfers declined this January by around 8.5 percent from January 2016, when transfers amounted to SR5.41 billion
news
02-03-2017
EU court refuses case challenging Turkey migrant deal
LUXEMBOURG: The EU’s top court refused to hear a challenge by three asylum seekers to the bloc’s deal with Turkey to stem the flow of migrants, saying it lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case. The three men — an Afghan and two Pakistanis — had contested the validity of the March 2016 accord in a bid to avoid being sent back to Turkey from Greece. The case, filed last April, argued the agreement was made between the European Council and Ankara, which violated the bloc’s rules on sealing international agreements. But the European Court of Justice on Tuesday ruled that the deal was made by leaders of European member states, which meant the court could not hear the case. “The court does not have jurisdiction to rule on the lawfulness of an international agreement concluded by the member states,” it said. Under the controversial deal, Ankara pledged to take back all illegal migrants landing in Greece in exchange for financial aid and eased EU visa rules for Turkish citizens.
news
28-02-2017
SPONSORSHIP TRANSFERHow to Transfer Sponsorship (Naqal Kafala) without Kafeel Approval
It was very difficult to Transfer Sponsorship without the approval of Kafeel. Sponsorship which is also called as Naqal Kafala was a just like a dream for all the expatriates living in Saudi Arabia. How to Transfer Sponsorship (Naqal Kafala) without Kafeel Approval SaudiExpatriate.com Here are few conditions In order to transfer Sponsorship without Kafeel Approval 1) Nitaqat Category – If the current Kafeel Nitaqat is in Yellow or Red Category then Iqama can be transferred without any issues even without even going to the Labor court in Saudi Arabia 2) Iqama Not Issued – If your Sponsor (Kafeel) doesn’t provide Iqama to the employee even after arriving in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and if your Visa had expired, then probably you can transfer Sponsorship (Naqal Kafala) without the consent of your Kafeel. But for doing this, you’ll have to contact Labor Office in Saudi Arabia 3) Kafeel Iqama Nitaqat Category is in Red or Yellow color. You can contact Labor Office in Saudi Arabia to Transfer Sponsorship (Naqal Kafala) without Kafeel Approval. 4) If your Sponsor or Kafeel didn’t renew your Iqama and your Iqama has expired. After one month of expiring of Iqama. You can reach Labor Office to Transfer your Sponsorship (Naqal Kafala) without Kafeel Approval 5) If your Employer has not paid Salary for 3 months and as per the new law. You can join any other Company without getting an approval of current Sponsor or Kafeel 6) If the Employees of a Company which fail to implement Labor Ministry Wage protection law would be allowed to transfer it services to other companies, without any consent of previous employer. You’ll be unable to transfer Sponsorship in the following conditions: 1) Expired Passport 2) Invalid visa 3) If your Kafeel or Sponsor has any traffic Violation 4) If Ministry of labor disapproves transferring your Sponsorship 5) If you’re under Huroob or runaway status 6) If you have insufficient Funds to transfer sponsorship
news
28-02-2017
End of Service Benefits in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)
End of Service Benefits in Saudi means that any employee or worker who is working in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) get some cash after ending their service and will be entitled for End of Service benefits as per Saudi Labor Law. If an employee is working for a company and when he resigns or gets terminated he will get his full and final settlement from his Company which is known as End of service benefits. End of Service (EOS) benefits all depends on the time period an employee works in a company and based on that he will be awarded cash benefits towards ending his services from the company. End of Service Benefits in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)-SaudiExpatriate.com Employees leave the company in two situations, either they will resign or will get terminated from the company. EOS benefits will applicable in both the sitaution as follows: IN CASE OF RESIGNATION: Scenario 1: If an employee resigns in less than 2 years of work then he will not be entitled for End of Service (EOS) benefits. To get these benefits he should have to complete minimum 2 years of employment. Scenario 2: If an employees stays and works in the company for more than 2 years and less than 5 years. He will be entitles to get 1/3rd of his EOS benefits. EOS Benefits will be half of his Salary in this case. READ Hundreds of Telecom Shops close due to Saudization Scenario 3: If an Employee complete 5 years in a company then he will be entitled to get 2/3rd of his End of Service Benefits along with Full Salary % Scenario 4: If an Employee complete his 1o years of service and then resigns, he will be entitled for Full End of Service Benefits Awards with % of Full Salary CALCULATE YOUR END OF SERVICE BENEFITS NOW! IN CASE OF TERMINATION: Scenario 1: If an Employee gets terminated by his employer or company before 5 years of his service then he will be entitles for Half Salary Scenario 2: If an Employee get termianted after completion of 5 years, then he will be entitled for Full Salary
news
27-02-2017
STRANDED SERBIAN WORKERS DEPORTED FROM KUWAIT FOR COMPLAINING
Last month, eight Serbian construction workers headed from a worksite in Ardiya to the Serbian embassy in Bayan on the first leg of a long journey home. They had arrived in Kuwait a couple of months earlier to work on University City – Shadadiya campus, and have received no wages. All they want now is to get their wages and return home. They say that many other Serbians have gone months without pay but are too afraid to complain. Their fears are justified, as shortly after the group of eight attempted to file a complaint, they were immediately terminated and deported to Serbia, without their due wages. They reached out to Migrant-Rights.org to publish their story, after a local rights group could not get the interest of local media. A few of the documents workers shared with Migrant-Rights.org Migrant-Rights.org reviewed the workers’ contracts and personal documents: their contracts were signed with a Serbian company and listed no Kuwaiti employer or partner. Despite receiving visas and entering the country legally, they had no Kuwaiti contracts. Without a named Kuwaiti employer, the embassy was uncertain how to intervene. After some research, they discovered that the Serbian company is partnered with al-Hani Construction & Trading Company, one of Kuwait’s major construction companies. This company leads mega-projects including al-Shahid Park and the Jaber al-Ahmed Bridge. The workers entered Kuwait with an article-14 visa, a short-term or temporary work visa. Their sponsor is legally the Amiri Diwan itself, though the University City belongs to the Ministry of Education, and is not the Diwan's project. It turns out that al-Hani construction used its other construction projects with the Diwan to sponsor these workers on a short visa, but is using them to work on the university project. There are at least 186,000 construction workers in Kuwait, not accounting for those undocumented or under “free visa.” Kuwait has spent over 3.5 billion dollars on the University City project so far. Many parliament members have accused the government of corruption, citing overspent budgets and delays in the project, as well as apparent negligence; at least four large fires have occurred on the University City project since 2013, and lax safety standards led to the 2014 death of two Egyptian workers in a landslide (and the subsequent resignation of Kuwait’s Education Minister in 2014.) In January 2015, yet another Egyptian worker died in the same way. Despite the falling oil prices and proclaimed austerity measures, Gulf countries continue to pursue mega-construction projects that rely on cheap, easily replaceable, exploited labour. Over the last several years, recruitment has expanded to new countries in an effort to bypass pressure to improve protections for workers from existing origin countries. The construction industry is among the most hostile to workers; in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, official deaths on construction sites run only in the single digits, but hundreds of construction workers have died because of substandard working and living conditions; cardiac arrests induced by working in excessive heat and long working hours, and cramped, unhygienic living conditions and poor health care access put workers' lives at constant risk. Workers who dare to protest for their wages are often punished and deported; in 2014, workers who attempted to strike in the UAE were arrested, tortured, and deported. In Saudi Arabia, several workers protesting against unpaid wages were sentenced to jail time and flogging, while their employers remain unpunished. They were among the tens of thousands of workers stranded last year without work, food, electricity, or medical care. The industry’s bar has been low in regards to safety and fair compensation, but now even compensation appears to be almost too much to expect.
news
23-02-2017
UAE, Saudi can create historic opportunities for the whole region: UAE Vice President
Combining the capabilities of the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can create historic opportunities for their people and the whole region, said Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, at a joint retreat held on Saadiyat Island today by some 150 Emirati and Saudi officials to discuss the best ways to advance relations between the two countries to what he described as a new and exceptional level. Called al-Azm, or determination in Arabic, the retreat seeks to turn agreements and understandings into tangible field projects that will benefit the people of the two countries and achieve a new level of exceptional relations between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, noted Sheikh Mohammed. The retreat was held following directives from President of the UAE His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, to enhance historic relations between the two countries and draw a roadmap to develop them in the long term. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs, co-chaired the retreat, held as one in a series of joint meetings aimed at intensifying co-operation and consultations in several spheres. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Emirati and Saudi ministers and senior officials took part in the retreat. "Through our integration, solidarity and unity, we can protect our gains, enhance our economies and build a better future for our people. I am optimistic about the young leaders responsible for the quest for integration between the two countries, namely Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan," Sheikh Mohammed said. "Chairing the Emirati delegation is the best guarantee for the success of this quest. We have great confidence in his ability to lead this historic progress between the two countries," he added. Sheikh Mansour described the Emirati-Saudi relations as "strong, but the leadership wants them to be exceptional and exemplary and moving towards a new, different and integrational level." "His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, are closely following up on all the steps of co-operation between the two countries and have directed the speeding up of this blessed quest," he said. "We are the largest two Arab economies, have the most modern forces in terms of arms, form one social fabric and have leaders who want co-operation to go further, and people who want further integration." The combined gross domestic product of the UAE and Saudi Arabia stands at US$1 trillion, the largest such in the Middle East, with $713 billion in exports, the fourth largest globally. Trade between the two countries amounted to Dh84 billion, Sheikh Mansour noted. The UAE investments in the Kingdom amounted to Dh15 billion, he said. "The aim of the al-Azm retreat is to discuss all potentialities and opportunities that we can build together in all sectors. At the retreat, we will discuss the 10 pillars of integration. All the projects and initiatives will be announced in Saudi capital Riyadh in the coming period," Sheikh Mansour added, while stressing that exceptional relations between the two countries were a source of support for the Gulf Cooperation Council, now witnessing fast-paced progress under the leadership of King Salman.
news
20-02-2017
Domestic workers can transfer sponsorship under 13 circumstances
RIYADH – Minister of Labor and Social Development Ali Al-Ghafis approved the transfer of services of domestic workers and their dependents from one employer to another under 13 circumstances. The new measure is aimed at regulating the employment market and providing opportunities for household workers, including drivers and maid servants, as well as their dependents to find jobs in the event of certain situations for which they are not responsible, Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday quoting the ministry sources. These include delay on the part of the employer in the payment of wages for three months, failure to receive domestic help upon their arrival in the Kingdom, failure to take them from shelters within 15 days after their arrival in the Kingdom, delay of more than 30 days in the issuance or renewal of residency permit (iqama), renting out the service of the domestic worker to another employer without the knowledge of the worker, assigning the domestic help to work with those other than their close relatives, and assigning the worker to do jobs that pose danger to his/her health or safety. According to the minister’s directive, a domestic worker’s service can also be transferred to another employer in the event of mistreatment of the worker by the employer or his family members. Other situations include false complaint about running away of a worker, failure to attend two sittings to examine the complaint filed by the worker, and disappearance of the employer either because of his travel, imprisonment, death or any other reasons resulting in the failure of salary disbursement for three months in a row. The minister can take a decision on transfer of service in other individual or common cases. Al-Ghafis has also instructed that the new employer can hire a worker on probation for a period of not more than 15 days before starting the process of hiring but the worker has to be paid the wages for this period. The new employer has to pay the fee for transfer of services in addition to the expense for hosting the worker at the shelter home, with SR150 for each day, the ministry said.
news
18-02-2017
Body stuck at Sharjah hospital due to non-clearance of bills
Marilyn Stanislaus, an Indian mother of three daughters, is running from pillar to post to get her husband's body released from a hospital in Sharjah. The husband, Dominic, passed away on January 18 at the hospital. While the rest of the Indian community is in a festive mood for the Indian Republic Day, this woman and her three daughters, two of them studying at school, have only one need - to get Dominic's body released so they can cremate him at St Michael's church, Sharjah. Speaking to Khaleej Times, Marilyn said she has been passing through the worst period in her two decades of life in the UAE. Her husband went into depression and fell ill after he lost his well-paying job as an oil field supervisor at a Dubai company. "For the past one week I have been trying to get his body released from the hospital." Marilyn, has to pay a minimum of Dh30,000 to achieve this. Though the total bill came to Dh100,000, it was brought down to Dh50,000 since Dominic's health card was still valid. Dominic fell ill on December 26 and was rushed to the hospital where he underwent treatment for jaundice, liver failure and pneumonia. He was admitted at the intensive care unit for a week for which the charges were Dh3,500 per day. The body is in the hospital morgue, while the desperate family is knocking on the doors of family, friends, relatives and charities for help. "It was very kind of Kuwait Hospital to admit him and give him treatment without a valid Emirates ID. After he lost his job in February 2015, Dominic could not renew his visa. Though he appeared for many interviews, he could not get a job. He used to earn Dh14,000 per month," said Marilyn. The family was on his sponsorship and ever since he lost his job, the children's visas have also not been renewed. Marilyn, however, is now under a media city visa. "As we exhausted all our savings due to the job loss and children's education, I do not have the money to pay the bills. He has two personal loans as well but I hope submitting his death certificate to the banks will solve that problem. I don't have resources to take his body to Bombay, India, and we are planning a local cremation," said Marilyn She has approached several charity organisations and community associations for help. "I need to organise my life now," said Marilyn. "Two of my daughters study in grade 6 and their fee has not been paid for the past one year. Their visas also need to be renewed. But my immediate concern is to get his body released andto complete all procedures. What the hospital says Sources in Kuwait Hospital have confirmed the death of Dominic, but details of pending payment have not been revealed. Sources handling charity cases at the hospital said in case a patient dies and the family does not have money to pay the bill, a request letter for financial support is to be submitted to one of the three charity bodies present at the hospital.
news
15-02-2017
Ministry’s decision will harm Saudization, fear businessmen
JEDDAH — Businessmen said the Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s decision to prevent companies from firing a great number of Saudis will discourage the private sector from employing Saudis, Al-Madina reported. Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry member Abdulaziz Al-Sirai said the Ministry of Labor and Social Development issued a decision to prevent private companies from firing a great number of Saudi staff in one go. “If a private company would like to fire a number of Saudi employees in one go, the company must firstly receive the approval of the ministry. The company must apply to the ministry with the notice of firing a number of Saudi employees 60 days prior to the date the employees are requested to leave the company,” said Al-Sirai. He also said the company should include in its notice its capital and financial status in addition to the reason for firing the Saudi employees. “The company is also required to include the names of the Saudi employees to be fired. The ministry also announced that it will penalize any company which violates the procedure. The ministry’s new decision will discourage private companies from employing Saudis in the first place as the process of dealing with Saudi employees seems more threatening than dealing with non-Saudi employees,” said Al-Sirai. He also said the ministry’s decision could, thus, negatively affect the move toward Saudization. “The ministry could have given rewards to private companies for employing Saudis instead of punishing them for firing Saudi employees. The ministry could have given support and rewards to companies which have not fired any Saudi employee for a year,” said Al-Sirai. He also said the ministry could have also decreased the required bonuses and additional allowances given to employees to lift the financial burden on the private companies. “The decision will also hinder the pace of growth for the private sector. Some employers may fire Saudi employees one by one instead of many at one go,” said Al-Sirai. Technology sector investor Rashid Bin Zoumah said the ministry could have been more encouraging to companies which are employing Saudis. “The ministry could have decreased the required daily work hours,” said Bin Zoumah. Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Food Products Committee Wasif Kabli said the Ministry of Labor and Social Development should regulate the labor market and stop illegal issuance of work visas. “The ministry’s decision to penalize companies for firing a large number of Saudis will discourage companies from employing Saudis and that will affect the Saudization policy negatively. The ministry could have put in place more encouraging and rewarding policies,” said Kabli.
news
15-02-2017
No iqamas as ministry’s system still down
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s website has been out of service for the third consecutive week following a Shamoon 2 virus attack, Al-Madina daily reported on Monday. The renewal and issuing of residence permits (iqamas) have been suspended because the Labor Ministry’s system is linked with the Abshir and Muqeem websites run by the Ministry of Interior. Some of the residents who have not been able to have their iqamas issued or renewed are facing the specter of prison and deportation. Their employers face imprisonment for up to a year and a fine of SR25,000-SR100,000. Naif Al-Harbi, who is in charge of government relations at a contracting company, said they have been suffering for three weeks trying to renew their workers’ iqamas but to no avail. “We have at least 35 expatriate employees with expired iqamas. The company will have to pay a fine of up to SR100,0000 because it is employing workers with expired iqamas,” he said. Bassam Al-Yousef, who works as an expeditor, said he is facing a lot of difficulty in renewing iqamas. Al-Madina daily tried to contact the Labor Ministry’s spokesman Khaled Aba Al-Khail several times but he did not respond. The Communications and Information Technology Commission warned last month that Shamoon 2 might attack some important government websites and recommended all agencies to take maximum precautionary measures.
news
15-02-2017
Economists see 9 factors to create jobs, spur growth
JEDDAH – A number of economic experts have identified nine factors to drive unemployment rate down and stimulate the private sector to generate various job opportunities for young men and women. Giving support to small- and medium-scale enterprises in order to hire Saudis is one of these factors. Others include creating consortiums and alliances, eradicating tasattur practices, offering training programs to college students, requiring mega companies to train 20 percent of Saudi staff in them in order to fill senior and leading positions, establishing a unified government agency to provide various services to businesses, expanding business line of mega companies and venturing into new markets, providing job security to Saudis and exempting firms from the latest government decisions. The experts agree that these factors will reduce unemployment rate by five percent annually, Al-Madinah reported. Dr. Abdullah Al-Maghlouth, a member of the Saudi Economic Association, said the Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s statistics showed a 12.1 percent increase in the unemployment rate in the third quarter of 2016. “The private sector should be encouraged to create jobs as this is the only way to reduce unemployment rate and keep it at an average level,” he said. Dr. Salim Ba Ajaja, the chair of Economics School, Taif University, said one of the best solutions to this problem is to train college and technical institute graduates.
news
15-02-2017
Ministry to probe ad seeking to hire Indians only
Riyadh — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development said that it will open an investigation into an advertisement which asked only Indian nationals to apply for engineering jobs at a Saudi company. The advertisement — which reportedly offered jobs in several companies in a number of Gulf countries, including the Kingdom — has angered Saudis who claimed it to be discriminatory. The ministry said the ad is deemed unacceptable and that it will investigate the matter further. The ministry’s spokesperson Khaled Aba Al-Khail said on Twitter that anyone who posts such ads, which do not adhere to the ministry’s regulations, will be held accountable. “The ministry does not allow the use of such ads, and imposes sanctions on those who violate it. And the matter is currently being taken care of by the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development.” Saudis took to social media to express resentment over the advertisement and commented that there are many qualified Saudis who are worthy of these posts. They also voiced surprise that the offered salaries ranged between $2,600 and $8,000. Twitter user @abngahtan tweeted: “The salary is shocking… an engineering job advertisement for Indians only in Saudi! And before that, only Jordanians, what a provocation.”
news
13-02-2017
Qatar approves draft law for domestic workers
DOHA, Qatar: Qatar has approved a draft law which would provide legal protection for tens of thousands of female domestic workers for the first time, according to state media. The law is expected to specify how many hours staff such as nannies, drivers and gardeners should work per week, how many days holiday they receive annually and how they are paid, reported the Qatar News Agency (QNA). Legislation has been agreed by the cabinet, said QNA in a statement posted on Wednesday. “The law applies to sponsors and domestic helpers, specifies their rights and duties and regulates the relationship between them,” it added. In a 2014 report, Amnesty International claimed there were some 84,000 women migrant domestic workers in Qatar, mostly from south and southeast Asia. It alleged that many “face severe exploitation, including forced labor and physical and sexual violence.” While the World Cup 2022 host — battered by international criticism of its human rights’ record — has announced several key reforms governing the rights of laborers who help build stadiums and infrastructure for football’s biggest tournament, domestic staff have not yet been protected by legislation. Initial response to the draft law was positive. Campaign group Migrant Rights said on social media that the reform was “very promising news.” It also called on Qatar to include domestic staff in the Wage Protection System, a measure introduced in 2015 to ensure the country’s vast migrant labor workforce receive their salaries on time. Amnesty’s deputy director of global issues, James Lynch, said it would be waiting to see the details of the proposed law. “The Qatari government has been promising a law on domestic workers for years. Good that it’s back on the table — the content will be key,” he tweeted
news
09-02-2017
New Labor Law clause irks Saudis
Jeddah — Many Saudis are calling for revoking Article 77 of the Labor Law which allows the private sector to terminate contracts at any time by providing compensation to sacked employees. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Asheikh, president of the Shoura Council, said at a meeting that 800 petitions have been filed with the Council raising concern about Article 77 of the Labor Law. According to Nihad Al-Jishi, deputy head of the human rights committee at the Shoura Council, the article has resulted in a number of arbitrary terminations, with many low-income employees being affected. She said that people will feel relieved if the article is repealed. Columnist Khalid Al-Sulaiman said the previous Labor Law protected Saudi employees. But the new article makes the employer-employee relationship productivity-based. He called for the withdrawal of the article until it is studied and revised. Samia Bukari, a Shoura member, suggested that the compensation amount should be increased and labor violations committees should be mandated to deal with such issues as was the case earlier. However, Ahmed Al-Harsani wrote in his column in Makkah newspaper that Article 77 brings back balance in the employer-employee relationship. He explained that if the employee is over protected it reduces his productivity. “The article has made it easy to dismiss an employee, but at the same time it has clearly specified his rights. Therefore, there is no need to contact labor committees,” Al-Harsani wrote. He, however, suggested that employers must be monitored to make sure that they pay compensation to employees.
news
08-02-2017
Is your employer threatening you with a ban? Read this
It is presumed that your employer is an entity registered with the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) and that your employment is subject to provisions of the Federal Law No 8 of 1980 on the Regulation of Labour Relations (the "Labour Law"). Pursuant to the first part of your question it may be noted that it is not mandatory for employers to issue a permanent confirmation certificate of employment at the end of probation period. The continuation of the employment relationship after the completion of the period of probation may be considered to be proof of successful completion of your probation period. It is further noted that you wish to leave your employment whereas your employer seeks to get a labour ban imposed on you and also seek damages from you. However, it is learnt that labour bans are usually not imposed at the DMCC. In respect of the reimbursement of amounts to your employer, it may be noted that you shall be only liable to compensate your employer for any prejudice suffered by the latter in the event you elect to leave the employment. The amount of such compensation is not supposed to exceed your 45 days' salary. This is in accordance with the provisions of Article 116 of the Labour Law which states - "Where a contract is revoked by the worker for reasons other than those specified in article (121), he shall be required to compensate the employer for any prejudice the latter sustains as a result: provided that the amount of compensation shall not exceed half the worker's remuneration for three months or the residual period of the contract whichever is shorter unless the contract contains a provision to the contrary." However, the aforementioned provision shall only be applicable if you are working under a limited period contract. A limited period contract is usually executed for a pre-defined period and the end date of the contract is specified in the contract itself. Also it may be noted that apart from the amount of compensation as stated above, you shall not be liable to pay for any other compensation to your employer. If, however, you are working under an unlimited period contract, it may be noted that you shall only be liable to serve a notice period of 30 days prior to the termination of your employment. This is in accordance with the provisions of Article 117 of the Labour Law which states 1. Either the employer or the worker may terminate an indefinite term contract for a valid reason at any time following its conclusion, by giving the other party a notice in writing at least 30 days prior to termination. 2. For the daily-paid workers, the notice period shall be as follows: > One week: if the worker has been employed for more than six months but less than one year. > Two weeks: if the worker has been employed for not less than one year. > One month: if the worker has been employed for not less than five years." Based on the foregoing provisions of the Labour Law you may try to prevail upon your employer in respect of your rights. Should you face any hardships or in the unfortunate event of a dispute you may consider to approach the competent forum at DMCC.
news
27-01-2017
SR2,000 fine for holding on to workers’ passports
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has announced that it will penalize employers who hold back the passports of workers without their written consent, Makkah newspaper reported. Ministry of Labor and Social Development Khalid Abalkhail said the employer will be fined SR2,000 for every worker whose passport he is withholding. “The employer then has a month to rectify his status. The fine will double if the employer did not rectify the status in time,” said Abalkhail.
news
25-01-2017
Employee can claim compensation for dismissal 'without a good reason'
As the termination notice was served during her pregnancy, it may not be stated to a certainty if your wife may be eligible for receiving benefits generally associated with maternity, as the Employment Law is silent on this issue. Upon a broad reading of the legal provisions, it may be understood that usually a female employee is entitled to such benefits when the employee's pregnancy and the delivery occur during the period of service. However, the provisions are not very clear on whether an employee shall still be entitled to receive benefits even if the termination of employment occurred during pregnancy. Article 30 of the Employment Law is cited below for your reference - "A female worker shall be entitled to maternity leave with full pay for a period of 45 days, including the period preceding and the period following her confinement, on condition that she has been in her employer's service for a continuous period of not less than one year. If she has not completed the aforesaid period of service, she shall be entitled to maternity leave with half pay. On the expiry of her maternity leave, a female worker may be absent from her work without pay for a maximum period of 100 consecutive or non-consecutive days if such absence is due to an illness preventing her from resuming her work and if the illness is confirmed by a medical certificate issued by the medical service specified by the competent health authority or if the latter authority confirms that the illness was caused by the women's work or confinement. The leave provided for in the preceding two paragraphs, shall not be deducted from other periods of leave." KNOW THE LAW Where a worker is arbitrarily dismissed, the competent court may order the employer to pay him a compensation, to be assessed by the court with due regard to the nature of the work, the extent of damage sustained by the worker and his period of service, and after investigating the work circumstances. However, conferring of maternity benefits may also follow provisions of internal corporate policies, and it may be advisable for your wife to check on the necessary provisions/circulars/handbook which may have been issued by her employer for more clarity as such. It is further noted that, your wife's employer has offered to pay her gratuity and a month's salary, in furtherance of termination of her employment, the reason for which is stated as corporate restructuring. However, it may be noted that your wife may be entitled to claim compensation for arbitrary dismissal in addition to what is being offered by her employer. Arbitrary termination refer to situations where employment contracts are terminated without a good reason. In this regard, Articles 122 and 123 of the Employment Law are cited for your reference. Article 122: A worker's service shall be deemed to be arbitrarily terminated by his employer if the reason for termination is irrelevant to the work. More particularly, a termination shall be regarded as arbitrary if it is prompted by a formal complaint filed by the worker with the competent authorities or a legal action instituted against the employer that proved to be valid. Article 123: 1. Where a worker is arbitrarily dismissed, the competent court may order the employer to pay him a compensation, to be assessed by the court with due regard to the nature of the work, the extent of damage sustained by the worker and his period of service, and after investigating the work circumstances, provided that such compensation shall in no case exceed the worker's wage for three months, calculated on the basis of his last wage. In view of the foregoing, your wife may prevail upon her employer to pay her compensation for arbitrary termination of employment contract as well. Further, it is noted that the insurance coverage for your wife (as provided by her employer) shall be expiring this month. Since her visa is under your sponsorship, you shall be liable to obtain a medical insurance for your wife. This is in accordance with the rules prescribing mandatory insurance coverage vis-à-vis the provisions of Article 9 of Dubai Health Insurance Law No 11 of 2013 which reads as follows: The responsibility of prescription to health insurance shall be as follows: The government, as for nationals, shall be in accordance with the policy of health insurance and the controls determined by the authority pursuant to the resolutions issued in such concern. The employer, a
news
24-01-2017
Saudi Arabia warns over cyber attacks as labor ministry hit
Riyadh — Saudi Arabia warned organizations in the Kingdom on Monday to be on the alert for cyber attacks including a version of the destructive Shamoon virus, as a chemicals firm reported a network disruption and the Ministry of Labor and Social Development said it had been attacked. An alert from the telecoms authority advised all parties to be vigilant for attacks from the Shamoon 2 variant of the virus that in 2012 crippled of tens thousands of computers at oil giant Saudi Aramco. The labor ministry, meanwhile, said it had been hit by a cyber attack, but that it did not impact its data. It said that Human Resource Development Fund (Hadaf) had also been hit, but with little impact. Jubail-based Sadara Chemical Co, a joint venture firm owned by Saudi Aramco and U.S. company Dow Chemical, said it had experienced a network disruption on Monday morning and was working to resolve the issue. The company made the disclosure on its official Twitter account after the warning by Al Ekhbariya TV, which cited the telecoms authority. It did not say whether the disruption was due to a cyber attack but said as a precautionary measure it had stopped all services related to the network. Other companies in Jubail, the hub of the Saudi petrochemicals industry, also experienced network disruptions, according to sources.
news
21-01-2017
Unpaid workers go on strike at Clean Fuel Project’s site
KUWAIT: A number of contracted employees at the Clean Fuel Project’s site went on strike because of delayed payment of their salaries, according to their statements. Video footage went viral on social media showing expatriate workers staging a demonstration at a location in Ahmadi within the project’s construction site. Commenting on the issue, Acting Director of the Public Authority for Manpower Abdullah Al-Motoutah said that a decision was taken to suspend the workers’ employer until he pays the overdue payments. He further indicated that authority inspector rushed to the scene immediately after seeing the videos online in order to investigate the matter, adding that the employer was summoned there as well. Baseless allegations Separately, Kuwait National Petroleum Company’s (KNPC)s official spokesperson and deputy CEO for supplementary services Bassem Al-Essa stressed that recent social media reports about a complaint filed by one of the company’s employees is full of baseless allegations. Essa added that KNPC followed up the employee’s complaint in which he claimed that the company deducted from his salary for revealing a contractor’s violation of a contract signed with him to secure the company sites. “KNPC respects and appreciates all its employees, but the allegations mentioned on social media and in a TV interview are completely untrue,” Essa said, explaining that the deduction had not been made for disciplinary reasons but rather to recollect sums that the employee had unlawfully received due to inaccurate data. “The complainant was already met by deputy CEO for supplementary services on Dec 22, 2016, and we explained the reason of the deduction and told him to pay back in installments if he wishes to do so,” Essa added. Equal privileges During a meeting with Oil Minister Essam Al-Marzouq, the head of the Oil Ministry Employees Syndicate Adel Al-Hojob stressed the rights of ministry employee to get equal financial and administrative privileges and incentives as the ones given to those working in the oil sector. “The ministry directly supervises the units working in oil and gas and the state’s rights in them,” he explained, reminding that the Civil Service Commission (CSC) had stated that ministry employees could be treated equally as those working in the oil sector after amending article 3 of the service law number 15/1975. “Therefore, we urge the minister to work on amending our legal status,” he stressed. Hojob added that the syndicate rejects privatizing the oil sector because it would lead to many problems, especially since Kuwait mainly relies on oil as its source of national income.
news
12-01-2017
Indian consulate holds special function to celebrate Pravasi Divas
JEDDAH — The Consulate General of India, Jeddah, organized a function to celebrate the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) on the chancery premises on Monday. The two-hour long program started with Consul General Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh highlighting the importance of the PBD 2017. In his address, Sheikh summarized the three-day long PBD event at Bengaluru, its various sessions and spoke about new programs and schemes for pravasi Indians. About 200 pravasis and the consulate staff attended the event. About 50 pravasis from Jeddah had registered to attend this year’s. A pre-recorded speech Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered at PBD in Bengaluru on Sunday was relayed to the audience. It was followed by screening of a documentary on 14th PBD produced by the Ministry of External Affairs. As announced by the prime minister, it was conveyed to the local pravasi community that the consulate will facilitate conversion of PIO cards to OCI cards until June 30, 2017, without penalty. The pravasis were also briefed about the consulate’s use of social media such as Twitter, opening of Indian Workers Resource Center (IWRC) on 24X7 basis, holding of open houses on every Sunday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and regular consular tours to outstation cities within the consular jurisdiction of the consulate. A lecture by Pawan Kumar Ponnada, head of operations, State Bank of India, Jeddah on “Demonetization Toward Digitalization” was arranged on the occasion. The presentation was very informative and well-received by the audience. The occasion was also utilized to honor select community members with appreciation certificates for their excellent services to the community.
news
11-01-2017
20% drop expected in housemaid recruitment cost
JEDDAH — The cost of recruiting housemaids is expected to go down by about 20 percent, local daily Al-Madina reported on Monday quoting a number of recruitment offices. The offices attributed the drop to agreements for hiring housemaids which the Ministry of Labor and Social Development will sign during the first quarter of this year with Somalia, Ethiopia, Guinea and Chad. They said citizens will have the option to recruit housemaids from more countries. Chairman of the recruitment committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) Yahya Al-Maqbool also said the housemaid recruitment agreements to be signed with the four African countries are expected to bring down the cost of recruitment. He said the offices in a comprehensive meeting recently discussed all the measures being taken by the ministry to streamline the process of foreign manpower recruitment. Mohammed Al-Sulami and Adel Al-Jaber, owners of two recruitment offices, said the low and medium income citizens were badly affected by the high cost of recruitment. Meanwhile, Saudi Embassy in Manilla warned against dubious recruitment contracts. The embassy made it clear that recruitment could only be done through licensed offices in the Kingdom. “This will protect the rights of both the employer and the employee,” it said. The embassy said it will not be responsible for any breach of contracts or any delays in sending housemaids in case citizens deal directly with recruitment offices in the Philippines without liaising with Saudi offices.
news
10-01-2017
Indian expat helps UAE workers 'realise their dreams'
Teach them how to fish and where to fish, but do not feed them fish" is the philosophy of Smartlife, an organisation that works for the welfare of the workers in the UAE. A four-year-old institution, Smartlife runs about eight programmes every year based on education, vocational training and entertainment. Vinod Kumar Mehra, president and first teacher of Smartlife, believes every person has the right to gain knowledge. Originally from Delhi, India, with a background in technology and sales, he has completed almost two and a half decades in the UAE. He always had a dream to be a part of an initiative where he could help people upgrade their skills and Smartlife fulfilled all his dreams by giving him that golden opportunity. "I think knowledge can change lives and attitude in a great way. Through Smartlife, we are trying to give workers in the UAE space to improve. Our focus is not just to educate them but to work on their overall development by encouraging the talented among them. We donate our time and skills so that they can grow," answered Mehra when asked how Smartlife makes a difference in the lives of workers. "I am not doing it alone; we have a team of dedicated volunteers who lead programmes and projects. And I am glad that now most of the volunteers are from the workers' community." Smartlife, an NGO, works closely with blue collar workers with the aim of making them feel good. Smart success stories Saleem Badnatti, in-charge of one of the labour accommodations in Dubai and a volunteer for the Smart-Idol programme this year, recalls how he got associated with Smartlife. "I remember I saw a poster of the organisation in a grocery store four years ago. I called the contact number. It all started from there. Smartlife has made my life smart in the true sense. Today, I can speak English fluently and communicate with anyone with confidence. I used to work with a helper before and now I work with an engineer. I am blessed and fortunate, thanks to Smartlife." Another, inspiring story is that of Namayanja Diana, SmartIdol winner 2016. Just 26 years old, Diana is a bus conductor in a Dubai-based school. She got the platform to showcase her singing talent through SmartIdol. "With the winning amount I started a small business in my home country, Uganda. I got the chance to record a few songs after the competition as well. It goes without saying that the talent show played a pivotal role in taking my life to a different level. Smartlife gave life to my talent and I am just moving forward in life since then". Mehra is upbeat about the various programmes. "Every year, we try to design and introduce a new one. Last year, it was Smartreading in keeping with the Year of Reading 2016; this year, we have something interesting in the pipeline. I am sure it will help people rise above all barr-iers and make a mark for themselves in society. Hopefully, we will announce it soon," he said. Programmes that changed lives The group organises events every year on the basis of three important factors - compassion, skills and talent. A few popular Smartlife projects and programmes are: Compassion: > Smartdistrbution > SmartMedic > SmartSapna Skills: > Smartreading > Smartskills Talent: > Smartcup > SmartIdol
news
09-01-2017
Employees to be paid 150% of salary for working on holidays
It is also prescribed in the Employment Law that the daily hours of work are to be designed by the concerned employer in a manner that employees are not required to work for more than five hours at a stretch. The company is forcing me to work during public holidays without compensation. When I objected to it, the company threatened me with termination. I told the management that they can terminate me for not working on public holidays and I will seek assistance from the Ministry of Labour. To add to it, my working time is from 9am to 9pm. Although the actual timing is 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 9pm, as it is a shopping mall, I cannot take a break because I am alone at the shop and customers continue stepping in. I informed my management that I am not getting time even for my lunch and they assured me that I would be paid extra. However, that never happened and I was never paid for the overtime. Now, the management has asked me to hand over the shop inventories, cash and key of the shop to the company driver, which I refused and informed them that I would hand over all those to any company officials, not the driver. I need your advice. It is presumed that your employment is subject to the provisions of the Federal Law No 8 of 1980 on the Regulation of Labour Relations (the "Employment Law"). In respect of the national holidays, the Employment Law prescribes that the employees shall be entitled to get leave with full pay for the said holidays. And where, owing to circumstances of work, employees are required to work on such days, they shall be entitled to receive compensatory leave on some other day and also receive additional compensation. You shall therefore be entitled to get the compensatory leave and additional benefits as such. We cite Article 81 of the Employment Law for your reference. "Where the circumstances of the work make it necessary for a worker to work on public holidays or rest day in respect of which he is entitled to full or partial pay, he shall be granted compensatory leave in respect of such days, together with a bonus equal to 50 per cent of his remuneration. If he is not compensated for such days by leave, his employer shall pay him a bonus equal to 150 per cent of his basic remuneration in respect of the days worked." The Employment Law contains specific provisions whereby the daily period of work has been prescribed. The maximum working hours for employees normally working in general establishments shall be eight hours a day. And in case of establishments involved in trading, hospitality/hotels, cafeterias, security etc., the hours of work may be increased to nine hours a day. We cite Article 65 of the Employment Law for your reference in this regard. "The maximum number of ordinary working hours for adult workers shall be eight hours per day, or forty-eight hours per week. The number of hours may be increased to nine hours per day for people employed in trade, hotels, cafeterias, security and other jobs whose addition may be made by virtue of a decision from the Minister of Labour. Furthermore, the daily number of working hours may be reduced for strenuous or harmful works and such by virtue of a decision from the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs. The ordinary working hours shall be reduced by two hours during Ramadan. The commutation periods spent by the worker from the place of residence to the work site thereof shall not be calculated within the working hours." It is also prescribed in the Employment Law that the daily hours of work are to be designed by the concerned employer in a manner that employees are not required to work for more than five hours at a stretch and there are adequate breaks for rest, meals and prayer. This is in accordance with the provisions of the Article 66 of the Employment Law which reads as follows. "The daily working hours shall be so regulated that no worker shall work for more than five successive hours without breaks - for rest, meals and prayer - amounting in aggregate to not less than one hour. Such breaks shall not be included as part of the working hours. However, in factories and workshops where work is organised in the form of successive day and night shifts, and in processes where work has to continue uninterrupted for technical and economic reasons, the manner in which breaks for rest, meals and prayer are to be granted shall be specified in a resolution by the Minister." The Employment Law however prescribes, th
news
03-01-2017
Soon Emirates ID to be used for medical records
By 2021, all patients in the country will have single unified medical records which can be accessed by any doctor in the country through the Emirates Identity card. The unified records will serve as a healthcare database and will record details of the patient - from the kind of treatment being undertaken to the medicines consumed. However, patient confidentiality will be at the forefront. Besides reducing costs of unnecessary medical tests, the database will also cut down on medical errors, said Ali Juma Alajme, Director of IT Management at the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHP), who is heading the project. At a later stage, it will also be linked to insurance companies. Know your Emirates ID privileges and benefits in the UAE He said that the project will be implemented in several phases. "A study is being carried out with all the health entities in the country to develop this roadmap," he told Khaleej Times. "We are agreeing on a standard and moving to the unified platform," he added. The project is already well under way with the studies expected to be completed by the first quarter of this year. In 2018, all government hospitals will be part of the project and private hospitals/health clinics will be linked between 2019 and 2021, he said. Beat long queues at Dubai airport, use Emirates ID Alajme said that the project was part of the ministry's five-year strategy. "The same standards will be applicable across the board so the quality of data collected will be world class." The platform will also serve as a health database. "The data collected will help in decision-making and in addition will show a complete picture of the country's healthcare needs. For example, we will be able to know how many beds are there in total in all hospitals, the kind of diseases etc.," he added. Healthcare facilities will have to update their systems to be part of the project. The project has been modified to suit the UAE healthcare system after studies were carried out in Singapore and the USA, where similar models are already operating. "The UAE has developed its own model and IP after studying these countries," said Alajme. The Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD), the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA), Medical Services of the Armed Forces and Pure Health are part of the project. asmaalizain@khaleejtimes.com How the project will help deliver better healthcare Mubaraka Mubarak Ali Ibrahim, Director for Health Information Systems, said that the project will improve the quality of health care and patient safety. She stressed that the database can help in: > Assessing performance > Better automate the healthcare system > Ensure a smoother flow of digital information > Save previous medical history for the patient - creating a way to make better clinical decisions by providing the correct records and ensuring quick access to it.
news
31-12-2016
Dependents’ fees to be taken at the time of Iqama renewalDependents’ fees to be taken at the time of Iqama renewal
JEDDAH — The fees to be paid by expatriates for their dependents will be effective from July 2017 and will be collected along with the fees for Iqama (residence permit) renewal, according to sources at the department of passports (Jawazat). The sources, however, said the Jawazat is still waiting to receive instructions on the mechanism to collect the fees. They recalled that the “Financial Balance” document, which was released with the General Budget on Thursday has referred to monthly fees to be imposed on all establishments in which expatriates outnumber Saudis. Private sector establishments are currently paying SR2,000 annually for every expatriate worker. Now companies will have to pay extra fees for expats who outnumber Saudis and also for those expats who are in equal number to the nationals.But expats will have to pay SR100 from next July per dependent per month. In January 2018, companies where expats outnumber Saudis will have to pay SR400 every month for each expat worker and SR300 for each expat worker in companies where expats are in equal number to the nationals. The monthly fees on expats for each of their dependents will be raised to SR200. The fees on expats outnumbering the Saudis will be increased to SR600 per month from January 2019 while those of equal number will be increased to SR500. The fees on dependents will be increased to SR300 per dependent per month. At the start of 2020, the fees for expatriates outnumbering Saudis will be increased to SR800 monthly and to SR700 for expatriates who are in equal number to Saudi workers in a company. The monthly fees on the dependents will be raised to SR400 per head from mid 2020. Labor market sources believe that regardless of the fees to be imposed on expatriates during the coming three years, the Saudi labor laws remain to be one of the most liberal in the entire world.
news
30-12-2016
Ministry of Interior launches domestic helpers insurance policy
As part of its efforts to develop innovative solutions, the Ministry of Interior launched an insurance policy that guarantees the rights of the insurer in relation to the domestic helpers. The policy involves a strategic partnership with the private sector. This move, in line with UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s declaration of 2017 as the Year of Giving, is aimed at supporting individuals, as well as companies in the private sector, besides promoting a sense of social responsibility. The policy will help individuals to fulfil their responsibilities and commitments as sponsors of domestic helpers who have a residency visa, as per the applicable law, and a valid work permit, as sanctioned by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. At a joint press conference held on Tuesday along with the strategic partner ‘AXA Green Crescent,’ Dr. Rashed Sultan Al Khedr, the official spokesman for Citizenship, Residence and Port Affairs, Ministry of Interior, reiterated the keenness of the police leadership to ensure satisfaction of all those who opt for it. He also pointed out that the AXA’s Domestic Helpers Protection Plan will be optional for Emirati and expatriate sponsors, and will help them in fulfilling their responsibilities and duties towards domestic workers in possession of a valid visa and work permit. Lt. Colonel Hamad Al Nuaimi, the Chairman of the Initiative Supervising Committee, said the focus was on offering a creative insurance plan involving an annual premium starting from AED 100. He said the ministry chose AXA Green Crescent as its strategic partner after diligent research to offer best services to the citizens and residents. The effort was part of the government’s commitment to ensure the satisfaction of individuals, families and the entire society. On his part, Dr. Abdel Kerim Al Zarouni, a board member of AXA Green Crescent, expressed the company’s gratefulness for having been chosen by the government as a strategic partner, and reiterated the company’s commitment to ensuring the success of this initiative by offering the best solutions and services for the people of the UAE. The Insurance Authority also backed the initiative, which would strengthen the organisational framework in line with the technical regulations governing the sector. It would provide a means of social protection for the community, particularly for the insurance policy holders, and would help make the local market and the UAE’s economy more competitive, the AI said. In a press release, it underlined its support of the initiative within the framework of organising the insurance sector in the UAE and inculcating a sense of social responsibility in the local community, apart from working with the governmental bodies for development partnerships and evolving mechanisms for cooperation.
news
29-12-2016
About a million expats without medical insurance
RIYADH — Close to a million expatriates do not have medical insurance, local daily Al-Watan reported on Tuesday quoting sources. It said that only 7.6 million out of 10.4 million expatriates living in the Kingdom have medical insurance cover. Of them, about 1.93 million are house helps, consisting of maids and drivers, who do not have medical insurance as they can be treated in government hospitals by showing their residence permits (iqamas). But more than 870,000 expat workers are not covered by any medical insurance. According to the demographic statistics, non-Saudis constitute about 33 percent of the Kingdom’s total population. The sources said that those who do not have medical insurance are violating residency and labor laws. Yasser Al-Maarik, spokesman of the Council of Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI), said employers are obliged to provide medical insurance to their employees and their families. “No iqamas (residence permits) will be issued or renewed without medical insurance for employees and their dependents,” he said. Maarik said that CCHI often gets fake medical insurance documents for issuance or renewal of iqamas. According to a recent report by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), there are 26 medical insurance companies in the Kingdom and seven other companies under the CCHI which manage insurance claims. The report said that as many as 420,800 private companies and establishments provided medical insurance for their workers in 2015. It said the CCHI has accredited 2,569 health establishments — 2,556 private and 13 government ones — to provide treatment to the insured people.
news
26-12-2016
No tax on expat remittances Expat dependents’ fee to bring SR2.674bn to state coffers annually
Jeddah —There are no plans at present to impose any taxes on remittances by expat workers, Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, secretary general of the Financial Committee at the Royal Court, was quoted as saying by Al-Madina Arabic daily on Saturday. The Shoura Council is discussing plans to impose a 2 to 6 percent tax on expat workers’ remittances. Former Shoura Council member Husam Al-Angari, who submitted the proposal, suggested a 6 percent tax in the first year of living in the Kingdom. He said the tax would then drop to 2 percent following five years of the expat’s residency in Saudi Arabia. Al Angari was quoted as saying that expats’ remittances had almost tripled since 2004, having increased from $15.1 billion(SR57 billion) to over $36 billion (SR135 billion) in 2013. The World Bank claims Saudi Arabia accounts for the second highest volume of remittances after the US, with $37 billion in 2015. The Kingdom first mooted a tax on expat remittances in June. At around the same time, the UAE was also reported to be considering the imposition of such a tax. Meanwhile, Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that the details on the exemption of nationalities from expat dependents’ fees will be announced later. Social, political and security circumstances will be taken into consideration to decide on the nationalities to be exempted from such fees, he said in response to a question about the possibility to exempt Yemenis, Burmese and Syrians from the proposed expat dependents’ fees. There is a provision in the budget 2017 to levy fees on each dependent of an expat worker. The proposed expat dependents’ fee will bring SR2.674 billion to state coffers annually from the first year of its implementation, according to estimates. There are 11,660,998 expatriates and their dependents in the Kingdom, according to data. The number of expat dependents under 19 years of age in 2016 was 2,228,525. The monthly fees that will be collected for these dependents will be around SR222,852,500 per month. In the first year of its implementation in 2017, an expat worker will have to pay SR100 for each of his dependent every month. In 2018, the fee will increase to SR300-SR400 per dependent per month. This will rise annually to reach SR800 per month per dependent by 2020.
news
24-12-2016
Indian expats, applying for passport just got easier
The birth certificate would no longer be required to get a passport issued, the Ministry of External Affairs announced on Friday. Speaking to media here, Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh said that birth certificate that specifies the date of birth is no longer mandatory for getting passport and documents such as PAN card, driving licence, Aadhaar card, or Matriculation Certificate will suffice. He also announced that online passport application form now requires the applicant to provide the name of only one parent and not both. This would enable single parents to apply for passports for their children. Besides, married applicants would not be required to provide any marriage certificate, the minister added. The government has announced new passport rules in order to streamline, liberalise and ease the process of issuing of passport, an official statement said. The ministry published the following statement: (Sourced from MEA website) 1.In order to streamline, liberalize and ease the process of issue of passport, the Ministry of External Affairs has taken a number of steps in the realm of passport policy which is expected to benefit the citizens of India applying for a passport. The details of these steps are given below: Proof of date of birth 2.As per the extant statutory provisions of the Passport Rules, 1980, all the applicants born on or after 26/01/1989, in order to get a passport, had to, hitherto, mandatorily submit the Birth Certificate as the proof of Date of Birth (DOB). It has now been decided that all applicants of passports can submit any one of the following documents as the proof of DOB while submitting the passport application: (i) Birth Certificate (BC) issued by the Registrar of Births & Deaths or the Municipal Corporation or any other prescribed authority whosoever has been empowered under the Registration of Birth & Deaths Act, 1969 to register the birth of a child born in India; (ii) Transfer/School leaving/Matriculation Certificate issued by the school last attended/recognized educational board containing the DOB of the applicant; (iii) PAN Card issued by the Income Tax Department with the DOB of applicant; (iv) Aadhar Card/E-Aadhar having the DOB of applicant; (v) Copy of the extract of the service record of the applicant (only in respect of Government servants) or the Pay Pension Order (in respect of retired Government Servants), duly attested/certified by the officer/in-charge of the Administration of the concerned Ministry/Department of the applicant, having his DOB; (vi) Driving licence issued by the Transport Department of concerned State Government, having the DOB of applicant; (vii) Election Photo Identity Card (EPIC) issued by the Election Commission of India having the DOB of applicant; (viii) Policy Bond issued by the Public Life Insurance Corporations/Companies having the DOB of the holder of the insurance policy. Report of the Inter Ministerial Committee 3.A three-member Committee comprising of the officials of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Women and Child Development was constituted to examine various issues pertaining to passport applications where mother/child has insisted that the name of the father should not be mentioned in the passport and also relating to passport issues to children with single parent and to adopted children. The Report of the Committee has been accepted by the Minister of External Affairs. The following policy changes have been made inter-alia on the basis of the recommendations of this Committee: (i) The online passport application form now requires the applicant to provide the name of father or mother or legal guardian, i.e., only one parent and not both. This would enable single parents to apply for passports for their children and to also issue passports where the name of either the father or the mother is not required to be printed at the request of the applicant. (ii) The total number of Annexes prescribed in the Passport Rule, 1980, has been brought down to 9 from the present 15. Annexes A, C, D, E, J, and K have been removed and certain Annexes have been merged. (iii) All the annexes that are required to be given by the applicants would be in the form of a self declaration on a plain paper. No attestation/swearing by/before any Notary/Executive Magistrate/First Class Judicial Magistrate would be henceforth necessary. (iv) Married applicants would n
news
23-12-2016
No tax for citizens, expats Saudis to be divided into five categories for financial support Fees paid by companies to employ foreigners to be gradually hiked
Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that there won’t be any tax on Saudi citizens or expatriates or any Saudi companies. Al-Jadaan also announced the launch of the 2020 fiscal balance program and the Citizen’s Account initiative. The minister was addressing a press conference in Riyadh on Wednesday along with Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Commerce and Investment Majed Al-Qassabi, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development Ahmad Al-Humidan and Deputy Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri after the presentation of the national budget. A fixed amount will be deposited in the account every month and citizens can withdraw the money whenever they need it. Ahmad Al-Humaidan, deputy minister of labor and social development, said that the Uniform Citizen Account, aims at supporting citizens with low, middle, and above middle income categories so as to achieve economic balance and insulate them while implementing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program. It will enable the nation to achieve qualitative leap and development at all levels and would help in diversifying national income through non-oil exports. Al-Humaidan said the account will be opened with a total amount of SR25 billion in 2017 and the amount is expected to reach SR60 billion by 2020. He urged citizens to hurry up to register with the account so as to take advantage of it. Saudi citizens will be divided into five categories based on their income, according to Al-Arabiya. The categories based on low and medium income will get financial support. The registration of citizens in unified account will begin early February and the distribution of monthly financial support will begin on June 1. Saudis whose income levels fall in the first and second categories will receive SR1,200 every month for a family of six persons. Those citizens whose income level falls in the third category will receive SR1,000 every month for a six-member family. Saudis whose income level falls in the fourth category will receive SR600 a month for a family of six members. But Saudis in the fifth category of income and to those with monthly income exceeding SR21,000 will not get any support. Saudi Arabia will gradually increase the monthly fees paid by companies to employ foreign workers, starting from 2018, Al-Jadaan told the press conference. The level of fees will depend on the proportion of foreigners in each company’s workforce, the minister added. He said that the state has disbursed more than SR100 billion in dues owed to the private sector, especially the contracting sector, over the last two months. “The government has fulfilled its promise made several months ago with regard to clearing the dues of the private sector. We have made payment of all the requests came to the Ministry of Finance from private sector firms and individuals before three weeks,” he said, adding that the remaining requests are now under the consideration of the ministry and the amounts will be disbursed within two months. Al-Jadaan said SR42 billion has been allocated for the National Transformation Program for this year and another SR172 billion for the coming three years. He said that budget 2017 aims to improve the level of performance in the public and private sectors to enhance transparency, which is the most important part of the budget. He also said that the government would not surprise the private sector with any new policy initiatives beyond those already announced on Thursday until 2020.
news
20-12-2016
King orders reinstatement of 200 government employees
JEDDAH: In a rare gesture, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has ordered the reinstatement of 200 employees who were dismissed in January 2013 from their jobs at the Ministry of Education. Minister of Civil Service Khaled Al-Araj thanked the king for the gesture. “I thank the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for his issuance of the royal order to exceptionally reinstate 200 citizens to their jobs at the Ministry of Education in positions commensurate with their qualifications,” the minister tweeted. The royal order approves the reappointment of all those who wish to return to work on vacant positions at the Ministry of Education, at ranks corresponding to their educational qualifications as per the civil service employee ranking system. Alternatively, the order calls for modifying or reducing a number of jobs for this purpose, as per the state budget. “The royal order also calls for the formation of a committee at the Ministry of Education, together with the Ministry of Civil Service, the Ministry of Finance, and the Monitoring and Investigation Commission, to carry out its provisions,” Al-Araj tweeted. “The ministry immediately asked the Ministry of Education to start the committee’s meetings as of next Wednesday,” Al-Araj said, also thanking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their attending to all matters brought to their notice by concerned citizens. The case concerns a Ministry of Education decision to hire citizens after all procedures required by the ministries of Education and of Civil Service were completed. Shortly after their appointment however, a decision was made to dismiss them from their posts due to what the ministry said “mistakes in the appointment procedures.” A second group of employees was dismissed six months later, bringing the total number sacked employees to 200. The employees appealed against the ministry’s decision, but nothing happened until a group they formed was able to meet with King Salman and explain their circumstances and suffering. The king reassured them and asked for an official report, complete with supporting documents and case details. After studying the report, the king issued the royal order to reinstate the employees, according to their qualifications
news
19-12-2016
Over 90% of Dubai residents aware of human trafficking, Dubai Police survey
Nearly 94 percent of Dubai residents have comprehensive or partial awareness of the concept of human trafficking, 4 per cent are not aware while 2 per cent have a different concept, according to a survey commissioned by Dubai Police on attitudes and awareness about human trafficking crimes. The survey of 1,597 random samples of Dubai resident, which was carried out by Addaera Research and Poll Centre and commissioned by Dubai Police’s Centre of Human Trafficking Monitor and Control Centre, covered three categories of respondents: members of the public, public sector employees, and private sector employees. Major General Abdul Quddus Al Obaidli, Assistant to the Dubai Police Commander-in-Chief for Quality and Excellence, affirmed Dubai's determination to take further security measures and actions to stop crimes related to human trafficking. ''A series of resolutions, measures and programmes will be introduced under the strategy of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking,'' he added. ''The survey aimed at assessing results of efforts made by the government to combat human trafficking crimes since the Federal Law No. (51) of 2006 on Combating Human Trafficking Crimes was issued and the committee was set up in 2007,'' he indicated. ''The important findings and valuable recommendations of the survey will have a far-reaching impact on the development and improvement of mechanisms and tools for fighting this crime,'' he added. In presenting the results of the survey, Hana Lootah, Executive Director of Addaera Research and Poll Centre, said 79 per cent of respondents have high awareness of the presence of anti-human trafficking laws in the country. ''Some 48 per cent of the members of the public are aware of the definition of the concept of human trafficking against 49 per cent and 41 per cent for those from the public sector and private sector, respectively,'' she noted. With regards to the UAE’s efforts in combating the crime, she said 33 per cent said that they were fully aware of the efforts, 35 per cent said they were somewhat aware, while the remaining said they were unaware. Interestingly, 68 per cent of the respondents said they received their information on human trafficking from the print and audio-visual media, while 47 per cent received it from awareness campaigns, lectures or workshops, and 24 per cent learnt about it from victims, she said. The respondents stressed the need for strict penalties against traffickers with approval of 95 per cent, 96 per cent and 97 per cent by the members of the public, private sector employees and public sector employees, respectively. The survey recommended the launch of extensive campaigns across the nation to raise public awareness about the crime and efforts to combat it. Police personnel should undergo intensive training to build their capacities professionally and academically so as to be able to detect the crime. The recommendations also included healthcare and support programmes to facilitate rehabilitation and re-integration of victims into the community so as to lead a safe life. Social partnerships with other stakeholders, particularly the health sector, should be bolstered and human trafficking laws should also be explained widely, especially at points of entry and exit. Media should also play an effective, increasing role as a key source of information to raise public awareness and support anti-human trafficking efforts.
news
17-12-2016
Kerala CM to visit Dubai on his maiden foreign trip
The UAE's Keralite community is gearing up to receive the state's chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who has chosen Dubai for his first overseas trip after assuming office in May this year, Khaleej Times has learnt. The CM, who has retained the Non-Resident Keralite Affairs Department (Norka) portfolio, is expected to be in the UAE for two days (December 22 and 23) and attend several public and private events, interacting with the community and business leaders. He is also expected to meet government leaders although no official details of that are available yet. "The first official visit of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to the UAE is an important milestone for the community. He has been keenly following the problems and issues facing the Keralite community abroad and many programmes are planned as part of his first official visit to the UAE," said K.L. Gopi, who is coordinating the leader's schedule in the UAE. Vijayan's UAE visit gains significance in the light of the UAE government recently establishing a consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, the state's capital. While on his visit, Vijayan is expected to address the problems faced by Indian expats due to India's demonetisation drive. "There will be a public programme in which about 10,000 Keralites from different emirates will participate," Gopi told Khaleej Times. He will speak at a public programme in Sharjah Indian School as part of the school's inauguration. Sources close to the CM's office confirmed the tentative visit to the UAE on December 22. "He will be attending a high-profile business meet in which about 200 prominent Indian businessmen will interact with the minister to discuss development plans for the state," the source said, adding that on 22nd evening, there will be the New Sharjah Indian School inauguration and public reception in the Sharjah school. Vijayan will also attend an awards ceremony in which Malayalam superstar Mammotty will be present. The CM is scheduled to return to Kerala on the 24th, the source revealed. Vijayan has been appealing to UAE-based investors to invest in the state, and recently inaugurated one of the largest shopping mall complex projects in Thiruvananthapuram by the UAE-based Emke Group. "We are all looking forward to his visit as the Chief Minister of Kerala," said Biju Divakaran, a Kerala expatriate in UAE. "Nearly a million Keralites reside in the UAE. We expect him to make some announcements to cheer us up."
news
16-12-2016
ILO’s Asia Pacific labour conference agrees to enhance labour migration governance in the interrelated regions of Asia and the Arab States
BALI (Indonesia) ILO News – The 16th Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM) of the International Labour Organization (ILO) concluded on Friday (December 9) with a call for governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations in the region to do more to promote inclusive growth, social justice and decent work. At the closing ceremony of the APRM, delegates from 37 countries – including Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE - agreed a “Bali Declaration ” which outlines policy priorities in the world of work in the years ahead. “Governments, employers and workers in the region agree that action to promote decent work fosters inclusive growth and social justice, stimulates economic dynamism and innovation, and drives sustainable development,” the Declaration states. The Declaration outlines a number of policy priorities, including one on labour migration governance, and delegates asked the ILO to report back on progress towards achieving the Bali Declaration every two years. On labour migration, delegates recognized migrant workers as a disadvantaged category of workers in need of targeted efforts at promoting decent work, and agreed to work on enhancing labour migration policies in accordance with international labour standards, especially those concerning fair recruitment principles. These include not charging recruitment fees or related costs to workers and allowing them to keep their own identity and travel documents. Protection measures should be provided, including arrangements to improve portability of skills and social security. Delegates also agreed to redress employer-worker relationships that amount to bonded labour, and safeguard migrant workers’ freedom of movement, their right to terminate employment or change employers, and to return freely to their countries of origin. “As such, the Bali Declaration offers guidance to implement the Fair Migration Agenda in the interrelated regions of Asia and the Arab States in the years to come,” said Hans van de Glind, the ILO’s Senior Migration Specialist for Arab States. During the conference deliberations, and in a variety of sessions, many delegates touched upon the plight of migrant workers and the benefits they help generate. The meeting featured a plenary session on fair recruitment that included a presentation on the recently adopted ILO General principles and operational guidelines on fair recruitment , a perspective from a destination country in the Arab States, and a perspective on changing the culture of low-skilled migrant workers paying recruitment fees. The latter was based on an ILO white paper by Dr. Ray Jureidini . All perspectives and the discussion that ensued are covered in a summary report .
news
15-12-2016
Two KSA Indians selected for 2016 Pravasi Excellence award
JEDDAH — Two Indian expatriates from Saudi Arabia have been selected for the “Pravasi Bharatiya Excellence Award 2016”. Mohammed Abdul Rahman Saleem, president of Hindustani Bazm-e-Urdu Riyadh, is a well-known social activist and an architect by profession and Seshu Kumar Pitani, a mechanical engineer in Petro Rabigh, have been selected for the award in recognition of their tireless efforts for welfare their community in Saudi Arabia. Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Non-Resident Indian Day) is celebrated in India every year on Jan. 9 to mark the contribution of overseas Indians for the development of the country. The 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will be held in Bangalore with the theme “Redefining Engagement with the Indian Diaspora”. Pravasi Bhartiya Divas is a program organized by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to foster greater interaction between the Indian Diaspora and the government. It provides the diaspora a platform to put forth their issues and grievances before the government. At the same time, the government also uses this occasion to showcase opportunities for investment in India to the expatriate community. Pitani has been involved in several welfare activities and awareness campaigns among the Telugu community in Rabigh since 2013. He is an active member of Telugu Association Jeddah (TAJ). Saleem, who has been serving in the Kingdom for the past 40 years is a well-recognized senior NRI in Riyadh. Speaking to Saudi Gazette, he said, “I feel proud and humble by my nomination for the Pravasi Excellence Award 2016 by COTA. Dedication and good work always pay off in the form of recognition. I am thankful to selection committee.” Saleem arrived in the Kingdom in 1976. He worked for the Mataf expansion project in the Grand Mosque in Makkah with Consultant Associated Consulting Engineers and then became the head of Design Section in Umm Ul-Qura University from 1977 to 1988. He has also designed Al-Azizia and Al-Zahir Complex buildings. Saleem joined Salah Abal Khaleel Consulting Engineers in 1988 as chief architect and got promoted to the level of vice president of the company. Since 2007, he is working in Gulf Real Estate Company as director of projects. “Many projects were completed during my tenure, among them are Al-Yamamah Press, Ministry of Interior Car Park,” he said. He has been the founder of many community organizations in Riyadh, including NRI Architects Association, Bazme Hyderabad, Bazme Urdu Riyadh, Bazme Ittehad Riyadh Chapter, Bazme Urdu Toastmasters Club Riyadh. He has also been the first recipient of Salar E Millat award from Bazme Ittehad, Saudi Arabia. In recognition of his services and exemplary contribution in the field of architecture and community service in Saudi Arabia, he has been selected for the Pravasi Excellence Award-2016. A total of 15 NRIs from different Gulf countries have been selected for the award this year. All the recipients will be felicitated in Hyderabad on the occasion of International Migrants Day on Dec. 18. The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards (PBSA) is the highest honor conferred on overseas Indians by the President of India as part of the PBD Conventions organized annually since 2003.
news
14-12-2016
Workers in Qatar seek security with labor law change
Doha — “I’ve heard about a change in the law, but what the change will be I don’t know,” says Girijesh, an Indian electrician, during his hour-long lunch break in downtown Doha. The “change” he is referring to is arguably the single biggest labor overhaul ever to be undertaken by Qatar. Migrant workers are seen walking next to a construction site in the Qatari capital Doha on Sunday. — AFP Migrant workers are seen walking next to a construction site in the Qatari capital Doha on Sunday. — AFP On Monday, the Gulf state announced the end of its “kafala” sponsorship law, replacing it with a contract-based system for workers. All foreign workers wanting to work in Qatar currently require a local sponsor, in the form of an individual or company, and also need their permission to switch jobs or leave the country. Qatar says the new system will make it easier for workers to leave the country or change employment as they will be able to deal directly with employers. Tuesday’s announcement also sits alongside previous reforms which shows Doha is responding to its critics, officials say. But what of the views of those on the front line, the laborers helping to build the infrastructure which the world will see in six years’ time? Girijesh is just one of hundreds of blue and yellow-overalled workers resting after a morning’s work in Mshereib, where an estimated $5.5 billion project to convert a rundown part of Doha into a gleaming financial and tourist center is under way. Here, where stray cats now scavenge skips for food, traders sell tobacco for five Qatari riyals and workers sit on the steps of a rundown mall housing computer and clothing shops, will be built Doha’s very own “Wall Street” financial district. As Girijesh speaks, a crowd gathers, eager to voice their own concerns about working conditions. Most concern pay — either not receiving their monthly salary or only finding out once they were in Qatar that the money they were promised before leaving is a fraction of what they actually earn. “My work is really hard and really dangerous as well, but I only earn 600 Qatari riyals a month,” says Nazamudin, a Nepalese marble fitter. That works out at around $165, or 155 euros. He was promised double that amount before leaving home and paying more than $1,100 to get a visa into Qatar. “I don’t want to be here,” he says sadly. Similarly Ibrahim, an electrician from Bangladesh, says he receives a salary of 810 riyals, despite being promised 1,200 a month. To compound matters he has not been paid for months. What these workers say they want — whether under a sponsorship or contract system — is wage security. “All laborers have a problem in Qatar,” says Ibrahim, who has to pay off 30,000 Qatari riyals to an agent who helped him secure work in the Gulf. “If the Qataris are implementing this new law, hopefully it will be better for us,” he tells AFP through an interpreter. “The main thing is the contract. My contract is my security and I need to be secure.” Scaffolder Saddulhaq from Bangladesh says laborers are exploited by unscrupulous agents, and not only over pay. He says many cannot read, so they have no idea what they are signing up to, or even for the amount of time they will be in Qatar. “We do not know how long we are going to work for,” Saddulhaq says. At its worst, the uncertainty over pay can lead to workers paying the ultimate price, says Amir, a Nepalese carpenter. “Many people choose suicide,” said the father-of-four. “Some months we don’t get paid. Your family is starving, your kids are starving, there’s no food at home… that’s why people choose suicide.” Asked how often colleagues take their own lives, Amir says there are cases every month.
news
13-12-2016
Qatar abolishes controversial 'kafala' labour system
Qatar is ending its labour sponsorship system that forces foreign workers to seek their employer's permission to change jobs or leave the country. It says a new contract-based law will replace the "kafala" system, ensuring greater flexibility and protection. Human rights groups say the change leaves the system - which they describe as modern-day slavery - intact. Qatar has imported hundreds of thousands of construction workers for the 2022 football World Cup. Rights groups say many of them have died because of appalling working conditions.
news
13-12-2016
Qatar ‘tweaks’ kafala system for expats
DUBAI: Qatar announced yesterday it is introducing long-expected reforms to policies governing its vast foreign-labor force, though the changes still require workers to seek clearance from their bosses before leaving the country. The new policies follow years of intense criticism from labor and human rights activists over working conditions in Qatar. The natural gas-rich country is in the midst of a torrid building boom tied to its hosting of the 2022 World Cup. Critics say Qatar’s long-standing “kafala” sponsorship system binding workers to their employer leaves migrants open to abuse, and in some cases can amount to forced labor. Qatar touted the reforms as abolishing the kafala system altogether. Rights groups say the changes fall far short of what is needed to protect the armies of mostly Asian low-wage workers transforming the tiny country. A statement released by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs said the changes are intended to ensure “greater flexibility, freedom and protection” to the more than 2.1 million workers in Qatar. The minister responsible for labor, Issa bin Saad Al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi, said Qatar welcomes constructive criticism and he urged outsiders to give the law time to take root before drawing any conclusions. He said the ministry is boosting its monitoring efforts and hiring more labor inspectors to enforce compliance. “We are doing this because we believe it is the right thing to do and because it provides tangible new benefits to expatriate workers,” Nuaimi said. Although the statement suggested the policies took effect yesterday, the government subsequently confirmed they would only become law today – a year after the emir signed off on the change. Under the new law, workers will generally be free to leave Qatar so long as they inform their employer first. Employees whose bosses refuse can appeal to a government committee that must address requests within three days. DOHA: Migrant workers are seen walking next to a construction site in the Qatari capital on Dec 6, 2016. Workers who have unsettled debts – potentially anyone who has taken out a local credit card, mortgage, or car or personal loan – or those wanted as part of a criminal case can be forced to stay. The law allows workers to change jobs, but only after they complete an existing fixed-term contract or have worked five years on an open-ended one. The new reforms impose fines of up to 25,000 riyal ($6,865) on businesses who confiscate employees’ passports. “The new law is the latest step towards improving and protecting the rights of every expatriate worker in Qatar,” Nuaimi said. “It replaces the kafala system with a modernized, contract-based system that safeguards workers’ rights and increases job flexibility.” Rights activists that have examined the reforms say they continue to leave workers ripe for exploitation by unscrupulous employers. “This new law may get rid of the word ‘sponsorship’ but it leaves the same basic system intact,” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s deputy director for global issues. He urged football’s world governing body FIFA, its sponsors and those seeking to do business with it or Qatar to “not use this reform to claim that the problem of migrant labor abuse has been solved”. Human Rights Watch echoed that sentiment. “The message this law sends is that Qatar doesn’t really care much about migrant workers,” said Joe Stork, the group’s deputy Middle East director. “Its sponsorship system remains a serious stain on Qatar’s international reputation.” World Cup organizers say some 36,000 people will work on its projects next year. Many more workers toil away on other job sites such as roads, hotels and public transportation links that will cater to fans attending the games. Yesterday’s announcement sits alongside previous reforms which shows Doha is responding to its critics, officials say. But what of the views of those on the front line, the laborers helping to build the infrastructure which the world will see in six years’ time? “I’ve heard about a change in the law, but what the change will be I don’t know,” said Girijesh, an Indian electrician, during his hour-long lunch break in downtown Doha. Girijesh is just one of hundreds of blue and yellow-overalled workers resting after a morning’s work in Mshereib, where an estimated $5.5 billion project to convert a ru
news
12-12-2016
New strategy to fight joblessness Deputy Crown Prince tells ministries concerned to come up with a plan in three months
JEDDAH — Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, minister of defense and chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), has called for an integrated strategy to link education and training with the labor market so as to fight joblessness among Saudis. The Deputy Crown Prince has instructed the ministries concerned to prepare a strategy within three months, Minister of Labor and Social Development Ali Al-Ghafis was quoted as saying by Al-Madina Arabic daily on Sunday. “The strategy will focus on the technical and vocational aspects rather than the theoretical side of education,” the minister said. Al-Ghafis said his ministry will concentrate its efforts on reducing unemployment by extending full support to the Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises. According to the figures of the General Authority of Statistics (GAS), the rate of unemployment among Saudis in the third quarter of the current year was 12.1 percent. According to the Saudi Vision 2030, the rate of unemployment will come down to nine percent in 2020 and to seven percent in 2030. The strategy will aim at making a better use of the technical and vocational education which will further facilitate the nationalization of jobs, especially in the private sector. The Vision aims at further expanding the Saudization of jobs especially in the industrial and construction sectors. According to labor market specialists, there should be a plan to gradually replace expatriates with Saudis in the private sector. They also said that fake Saudization should be immediately stopped so as to reduce recruitment from outside. According to GAS, there are about 10.5 million expatriates living and working in the Kingdom while more than 700,000 Saudis are jobless. It said the unemployed Saudis who are looking for work are aged between 21-35 years of age. The General Authority of Statistics said that as many as 1.9 million work visas were issued last year to recruit foreign manpower.
news
08-12-2016
Indian ambassador warns against unscrupulous recruitment agents
RIYADH – Indian Ambassador Ahmed Javed has noted that blue-collar workers and housemaids are the worst hit by unscrupulous practices of recruitment agents and middlemen. Javed said the government of India, represented by the Riyadh Embassy and the Consulate General in Jeddah, will do everything possible to protect the interests of these workers, who are increasingly being cheated by recruitment agents. He made the remarks while receiving two legislators from the southern Indian state of Kerala. Adv. P.T.A. Raheem and Karat Abdul Razak, members of the Kerala Legislative Assembly who were on a visit to the Kingdom, met the ambassador at his office in Riyadh. Social workers Muneeb Pazhoor, Shabeer Vayoli, Abdul Salam O.K and Vayoli Mohammed Master were also present at the meeting. The ambassador drew attention to several complaints being received by the Indian diplomatic mission against recruiting agents. A large number of laborers and housemaids coming from the lower strata of society have become victims of exploitation. Many agents are involved in recruiting housemaids and workers in violation of labor rules, Javed pointed out. Razak, who is also a member of the Assembly panel on expatriate issues, sought the ambassador’s suggestions on steps to be taken by the government of Kerala on expatriate-related issues. Responding to this, Javed noted that the majority of about 3 million Indian expatriates in Saudi Arabia are blue-collar workers, who are not fully aware of their rights and can easily be cheated by either recruitment firms or employers. “The poor education level, Arabic language illiteracy and a lack of awareness about their rights and the labor regulations in the Kingdom are the major factors that contribute to the exploitation of workers by recruitment agents and employers,” he pointed out. The ambassador underscored the need to closely monitor the recruitment process and keep a tight rein on human traffickers and illegal recruitment practices. Raheem, who is a former chairman of the Kerala State Haj Committee, discussed with the ambassador matters related to the Haj pilgrimage. “Strict regulations introduced by the Saudi authorities to restrict the performance of Haj without permits by Saudi citizens and residents contributed to the huge success of organizing last Haj. Restrictions on domestic pilgrims helped tremendously in easing the performance of Haj rituals for foreign pilgrims,” the ambassador added.
news
07-12-2016
Expatriates can manage more than one company
KUWAIT: Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, State Minister for Planning and Development Hind Al-Subaih issued a decision to allow an expatriate to be hired as a manager in more than one company, based on a recommendation from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The previous regulations stipulated that an expatriate could only be hired as a manager in the same company he has his visa on, and could not be assigned to manage another company even if it belonged to the same group.
news
05-12-2016
Over 4,500 complaints against insurance firms in one year
RIYADH — The Council of Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI) received 5,283 complaints, of which 4,562 were against health insurance companies, last year, according to a CCHI official. The council received about 450,000 calls through various channels of communication that ranged from complaints to inquiries, said CCHI spokesman Yasser Al-Maarik. He said complaints increased by 122 percent since last year, evidence that people have more awareness of their rights and that the insurance market has grown in size by 48 percent. Over 12.4 million people are covered through 3,927 accredited healthcare providers that handled over SR14 billion in health insurance premiums in 2016. Al-Maarik said that 99 percent of complaints were resolved. A majority of complaints were against employers for their failure to provide health insurance to employees and their dependents. He said that all organizations of all sizes are required to provide insurance to part-time workers similar to full-time employees. An employer who doesn’t provide health insurance to part-time employees and their dependents will face penalties, he said. The maximum benefits offered by the cooperative health insurance is about SR500,000. More than 3.8 million Saudis in the private sector have health insurance cover. Of them 1.2 million are employees and the rest are family members. The number will rise to about 15 million after the introduction of health insurance for workers in the private sector.
news
03-12-2016
Saudi labor minister changed; top religious body, Shoura reshuffled
RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has replaced the Saudi labor minister and reshuffled the Kingdom’s top consultative body, SPA reported on Friday. In a royal decree, the king also reshuffled the Council of Senior Scholars. King Salman had appointed Ali bin Nasser Al-Ghafis as labor minister to replace Mufrej Al-Haqabani. The Council of Senior Scholars, headed by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, will be re-structured, according to the decree. King Salman also ordered extensions for dedicated sheikhs who are members at the Permanent Committee for Ifta, which is affiliated with the council. As per the decree, Mohammad Al-Amr, Shoura’s secretary-general, has been relieved of his post. The new formation of the council will see Abdullah bin Mohammad Al-Sheikh as speaker, Mohammad bin Amin Ahmad Al-Jafry as deputy speaker, and Yahia bin Abdullah Al-Samghan as assistant speaker. Of the new Shoura appointments, 29 members are females. One of them is Lina K. Almaeena, a popular figure in Jeddah who has assiduously promoted sports among young people, especially women. She is the cofounder and CEO of Jeddah United Sports Co. Lina was thrilled and overwhelmed to hear the news. Speaking to Arab News Friday night, she said: “I am very honored with the royal trust. I ask God to provide me the strength to carry out this responsibility to serve the nation. Our country is full of opportunities and we should utilize them and make our Vision 2030 a reality.” Saleh bin Manie Al-Khelaiwi, director general of Saudi Customs, and Nayef bin Hashal Al-Roumi, governor of the Public Education Evaluation Commission, have been relieved of their duties. Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad Al-Sadhan has been appointed as a minister-ranked consultant at the Royal Court, according to the decree.
news
02-12-2016
Indian consulate teams to visit Makkah, Yanbu today
JEDDAH – Consular cum community welfare teams from the Indian Consulate General, Jeddah, will visit Makkah and Yanbu on Friday. The teams will provide consular services, such as attestation of documents and passport services not provided by outsourcing agencies to Indian nationals living in those regions. Indian nationals residing in these regions can take advantage of the visit to avail of consular services and meeting the visiting officials to convey their grievances and suggestions with regard to labor and welfare issues, according to a press statement. The consulate asked Indian expatriates to submit written statements describing their problems, including those related to consular services. The team will be available at the Indian Haj Mission Office, Makkah (Tel. 012-5603690/5603580) and VFS Global-Shop No. 3, Higgi Center, King Abdulaziz Street, Opp. El-Faleh Sports House, Yanbu (Tel. 014-3227598) from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
news
01-12-2016
Saudi Arabia seeking reciprocity on visa fees: minister
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s commerce minister said Wednesday that the kingdom is seeking reciprocal treatment on visas, after critics said the introduction of higher fees risked deterring investment. Saudi Arabia last month introduced higher work visa fees for citizens of some countries, one of many moves adopted by the kingdom to cover a 51 percent slump in oil revenue last year following a sharp drop in global crude prices. Speaking to AFP on the sidelines of the MISK Global Forum, Commerce and Investment Minister Majed Al-Qasabi said the kingdom was seeking “bilateral agreements with other countries” and that higher fees would not apply “as long as we’re treated equally.” He did not respond directly to a question about the impact on investment, but added: “The government is globally inviting investors to come here.” The higher tariffs, which took effect last month, do not apply to citizens of the European Union or the United States. But for other countries, a six-month business or work-visit visa allowing multiple entries now costs 3,000 riyals ($800), compared with 400 riyals (just over $100) previously. Diplomats told AFP last month that some investors were already reconsidering plans in Saudi Arabia following the fee increase, with one calling the move “incredibly short-sighted.” As part of efforts to wean the economy off oil and promote job creation among Saudis, the kingdom aims to promote small- and medium-sized enterprises under the wide-ranging Vision 2030 reform plan announced in April. But higher visa fees would be a particular disincentive for SMEs, the diplomats said. Earlier Wednesday Qasabi addressed the MISK forum, which aims to link business leaders with young Saudis in a bid to inspire their involvement in economic diversification.
news
26-11-2016
Company ordered to clear salary dues
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has strictly instructed a cleaning company in Unaizah, Qassim province, to disburse delayed salaries of about 150 workers. An inspection team from the labor office in Unaizah visited the firm’s headquarters and took note of the grievances and complaints of the workers. The officials then asked the management to clear all salary arrears without delay. According to the ministry sources, the number of labor problems such as delay in disbursement of salaries and allowances has witnessed a decline after the imposition of the Wage Protection Program. It was also instrumental in increasing productivity by creating an appropriate work environment. The program helps the ministry to get an exact picture of the labor market with minute details with regard to compliance with labor regulations by both employers and employees. The ministry urged the public to inform it about any violations by visiting its website for the purpose (www.rasd.ma3an.gov.sa) or calling the toll free number 19911.
news
25-11-2016
New Saudization plan: Employ Saudis, gain points
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development will implement a new Saudization strategy next month to increase the employment of Saudis in various sectors. The new strategic program will be based on point system, said a report carried by Al-Madina Arabic daily. The program will also consider the average period of stay of employed Saudis in a firm and the number of Saudis drawing high salaries. The progress of Saudization in a firm will be estimated every week for a total of 26 weeks in a row and a firm will get 10 points for every one percent growth in Saudization, the report pointed out. A firm will get a maximum of 1,000 points, assuming 100 percent Saudization of jobs in the organization. The Saudization of women will be considered depending on the number of women registered with the firm through the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI). A firm will get two points for each one percent of Saudi women employed with a maximum of 200 points to be earned. A firm will receive four points for each year spent by a Saudi worker in the organization and a maximum of 100 points if a Saudi stays 25 years. Average salary of Saudi workers in a firm will be calculated after adding the salaries of all Saudi workers. Six points will be given for every SR1,000. A firm can earn a maximum of 270 points. For every one percent Saudis getting high salaries a firm will get 0.1 point with a maximum of 10 points.
news
24-11-2016
Balanced Nitaqat may readjust companies’ ranks
JEDDAH — Some companies ranked higher in the Saudization category might be pushed down the ladder when the new Balanced (Mawzoon) Nitaqat system comes into effect on Dec. 11, Ahmad Kattan, deputy minister of labor and social development for labor policies, told Saudi Gazette. According to the new rules, the numerical strength of Saudi workers will not count. Saudization will be calculated on the percentage of Saudis, average salary of Saudi staff, percentage of women staff, job stability of Saudis, and percentage of Saudis with higher pay. Their salary, number of women staff, years of service of Saudis, and their grades of jobs will also be counted. The ministry, Kattan said, will launch a new calculator that will allow each establishment to know its status in the new Balanced Nitaqat system. Speaking about disabled people, Kattan said they are still counting each disabled person as four Saudis. However, large establishments are required to provide a suitable work environment for the disabled. These include illuminated emergency warnings for the deaf, computerized systems for the visually impaired and easy access for the physically challenged. “These are easy measures that we require only from large establishments. If they fail to implement these instructions, then each disabled person will be counted as two Saudis,” said Kattan. He said employers must post job offers at the ministry’s website for two weeks. If the employer is not satisfied with Saudi applicants he can proceed with recruitment from abroad. Kattan and other officials from the ministry were explained the new Balanced Nitaqat system to human resource managers during an interaction at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday.
news
22-11-2016
Sharjah Labour Standards Development Authority launches labour housing survey
The Sharjah Labour Standards Development Authority (SLSDA) recently launched the GIS-based Labour Housing Survey in the Emirate of Sharjah. The survey aims to develop best practices to improve work environments for labourers in the emirate. The initiative was launched in response to the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to provide the best services to labourers in the Emirate of Sharjah. The survey is being conducted under the observation of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Chairman of the Sharjah Executive Council. Salem Yousef Al Qaseer, Chairman of the SLSDA, said, “The SLSDA is striving to improve the working environment in the Emirate of Sharjah by providing the best possible support and resources to labourers and employers to enable them to work in a world-class environment and perform their work efficiently. This will enable them to effectively contribute to the economic development process in the Emirate of Sharjah and the UAE.” He added: “The labour accommodations survey aims to document all the data in a database – this database is crucial as labour housing is a vital component of the working environment in Sharjah and the industrial areas of the emirate.” Sheikh Mohammed bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Director of the SLSDA, said: “The survey aims to identify and locate all labour accommodations in the Emirate of Sharjah to produce an accurate data set of the number of accommodations and labourers. Moreover, the SLSDA also needs to classify these accommodations from sharing to individual, temporary to permanent and use serial barcodes to distinguish these accommodations.” Furthermore, Director Al Qasimi added that the campaign will check the compliance with safety measures in terms of the materials used, electricity grids and water supply systems, in addition to the lighting and ventilation in the housing units, among other safety measures in the checklist. The survey will examine the status of workers and will ensure they are provided with protection, safety and a decent life. The survey uses the most up-to- date smart GIS technologies for surveying labour housing in the Emirate of Sharjah to enable the SLSDA to quickly survey and document labour camps. To conduct the survey, the SLSDA formed an internal task force composed of 7 supervisors, 5 technical support officers and 24 surveyors to collect data. The SLSDA aims to provide the necessary support to employers and employees working in the Emirate of Sharjah, in cooperation and coordination with concerned government agencies and private enterprises.
news
21-11-2016
Saudi to protect workers’ rights
Saudi Arabia has “zero tolerance” for transgression of a worker’s rights and human trafficking, and authorities there will investigate the details of an “alleged incident”, as reported in the Indian media, about an Indian automobile engineer being “sold” to a Saudi national and being treated as a “slave”. A Saudi embassy statement said in response to media reports that Indian national Jayanta Biswas, from Kolkata, went to Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa, after he was conned by agents in New Delhi, only to find he had been “sold” to a Saudi national to work in his camel farm. If this incident was found true, “the alleged violator would face proper and necessary legal action” with “full force of the law”. The statement went on to say: “The Kingdom has strict laws against human trafficking. There is a special department in the Ministry of Labour to deal with crimes of human trafficking. The government has zero tolerance for any transgression of a worker’s rights. “(Saudi Arabian) authorities when provided with valid information will investigate the details of the alleged incident… If found true, the alleged violator would face proper and necessary legal action,” the statement said. The Embassy also welcomed efforts by Indian authorities to curb such illegal activities in a bid to stop exploitation or misleading employment seekers going Saudi Arabia. Nearly three million Indians, a large number of them professionals like engineers, doctors and IT experts, live and work in Saudi Arabia, the embassy said. “They are an important pillar of the friendship that our two countries enjoy. Some isolated incidents of abuse or mistreatment should not be seen as the norm and should not be generalised to portray a country or society,” the statement added.
news
19-11-2016
Anti-expat sentiments on the rise; Interior plans to fines and fees
UWAIT: The Ministry of Interior plans to ask the next National Assembly to approve decisions to increase charges of Ministry services as a whole and on residency services in particular, the head of the Residency Department said yesterday. Director of the General Department for Residence Affairs Major General Talal Maarafi also said that the Ministry plans to double the overstay fine from the current KD 2 per day to KD 4 for residence violators. Maarafi did not provide further details on the type of charges the ministry plans to raise and whether the KD 600 ceiling fine for residence violators will be also increased. Currently, foreigners who overstay their residence permits are required to pay a fine of KD 2 per day up to a maximum ceiling of KD 600 regardless of the duration. He did not explain if the overstay fine for visitors will also be raised. The fine for visitors who overstay is KD 10 per day with a ceiling not exceeding KD 1,000. Maarafi said other decisions include toughening penalties on those who provide shelter or work to absconding foreign workers and also on those workers themselves. The official also said that the residence department has started implementing the recent increase in the salary cap required by expatriates to be able to sponsor their wives and children which was raised from KD 250 to KD 450. He said the measure is primarily aimed at reducing the number of so-called “marginal” or unskilled foreign workforce. He also said that the ministry will introduce new measures with the aim to further cut the number of unskilled laborers. At present, Kuwait is home to 1.3 million native citizens and around 3 million foreigners, a majority of them Asians with close to a record-breaking 1 million Indians. There are over 650,000 domestic helpers, a majority of them female, among the expatriates. Maarafi regretted that this important issue has escaped the attention of a majority of candidates in the November 26 snap polls. Kuwait has witnessed a significant rise in anti-expat, anti-foreigner sentiment in recent years, with many social problems include excessive traffic, youth unemployment and other issues often blamed on the country’s foreign population.
news
19-11-2016
Anti-expat sentiments on the rise; Interior plans to fines and fees
UWAIT: The Ministry of Interior plans to ask the next National Assembly to approve decisions to increase charges of Ministry services as a whole and on residency services in particular, the head of the Residency Department said yesterday. Director of the General Department for Residence Affairs Major General Talal Maarafi also said that the Ministry plans to double the overstay fine from the current KD 2 per day to KD 4 for residence violators. Maarafi did not provide further details on the type of charges the ministry plans to raise and whether the KD 600 ceiling fine for residence violators will be also increased. Currently, foreigners who overstay their residence permits are required to pay a fine of KD 2 per day up to a maximum ceiling of KD 600 regardless of the duration. He did not explain if the overstay fine for visitors will also be raised. The fine for visitors who overstay is KD 10 per day with a ceiling not exceeding KD 1,000. Maarafi said other decisions include toughening penalties on those who provide shelter or work to absconding foreign workers and also on those workers themselves. The official also said that the residence department has started implementing the recent increase in the salary cap required by expatriates to be able to sponsor their wives and children which was raised from KD 250 to KD 450. He said the measure is primarily aimed at reducing the number of so-called “marginal” or unskilled foreign workforce. He also said that the ministry will introduce new measures with the aim to further cut the number of unskilled laborers. At present, Kuwait is home to 1.3 million native citizens and around 3 million foreigners, a majority of them Asians with close to a record-breaking 1 million Indians. There are over 650,000 domestic helpers, a majority of them female, among the expatriates. Maarafi regretted that this important issue has escaped the attention of a majority of candidates in the November 26 snap polls. Kuwait has witnessed a significant rise in anti-expat, anti-foreigner sentiment in recent years, with many social problems include excessive traffic, youth unemployment and other issues often blamed on the country’s foreign population.
news
18-11-2016
Private sector dues to be cleared by Dec. 31; signing of SR1 trillion mega projects halted
RIYADH – A package to clear all the government dues owed to private sector firms before the end of 2016 has been announced. This is part of a raft of measures and procedures approved during a meeting of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), chaired by Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Monday night. The meeting has authorized the Deputy Crown Prince, who is also chairman of CEDA, to present the package to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman. The measures include reviewing a number of projects and rearranging priorities of spending, in addition to halting the signing of several mega projects amounting to a total of SR1 trillion. The meeting came out with a package of solutions and procedures for the settlement of dues that fulfilled the requirements. The package entails quick start of settling the dues and complete them before Dec. 31, the last day of the current fiscal year, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The meeting discussed a number of economic and development issues including complete payment of amounts owed to the private sector, while noting that this has been delayed in light of a sharp decline in oil revenues. The Council discussed the mechanism for the disbursement of these dues based on rearranging priorities of spending by achieving the highest degree of transparency through an electronic portal so as to become a tool to provide accurate information about public expenditure. The Council discussed the state of completed government projects, associated measures taken by the state to review a number of projects and rearranging priorities of spending, according to their significance and efficiency, including the application of procedures by overcoming operational obstacles. The meeting also discussed the reports of government agencies as well as that of the Office to Raise Efficiency of Spending about the actions taken to raise the efficiency of government spending, including orders and decisions of restructuring some government sectors and the actions taken for reviewing the amounts approved for a number projects in alignment with the priorities, developmental needs and standards of efficiency in spending. These included a review of hundreds of contracts so as to re-schedule execution of some of them, modify contractual formulas and technical specifications for others, in accordance with the statutory regulations and the terms of the contract that contributed to the savings of tens of billions of riyals.
news
17-11-2016
Workplace stress alert: 60% of employees plan to quit jobs soon
Any job can have stressful elements, even if you love what you do. However, when 80% of working professionals complain that they suffer from stress and their organizations don't have any programs to manage stress at work – it is something to be alarmed about. ‘Workplace stress’ or ‘occupational stress’ is identified as a medical hazard, which has serious physical and psychological implications on individuals' wellbeing. Every working professional- regardless of age, experience, gender and profile has felt the pressure of work-related stress at some point in their career. “While some level of stress is acceptable and even beneficial to keep you on your toes, the problems arise when it becomes overwhelming or chronic. In today’s fast-paced work environment, chronic stress has become a common ailment for many professionals, issues such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, migraines, and heart problems start affecting employee wellbeing and productivity. The TimesJobs study reveals, 60% of employees find workplace stress so high that they want to quit their jobs. This is not a healthy sign," says Nilanjan Roy, Head of Strategy, Times Business Solutions. Smaller Organizations are more stressful The TimesJobs study reveals 80% of employees complain of stress at work, to the extent that nearly 60% want to quit their jobs because of high stress levels. Further, employees belonging to small-size organizations report comparatively higher level of stress at work than employees from large organizations. About 50% employees from small organizations said they face high level of stress at work while 30% employees from large organizations say so. Half of all employees attribute stress at workplace to having a bad boss. For 35% employees their poor pay is a major cause of stress. Nearly 30% employees say that a bad work environment causes them stress, 25% employees cite unclear job expectations as the reason for their stress and lack of recognition at workplace is resulting in stress for 20% employees. Stress takes its Toll Employees are reporting multiple physical and psychological disorders dues to work stress. About 35% employees have developed insomnia, 30% feel tired and fatigued all the time, loss of appetite is a major physical impact for 25% employees and 10% say they have persistent body aches. On the psychological front, 40% employees report depression as the main consequence of workplace stress. Increased irritability has occurred to 25% employees, another 25% complaint of increased incidences of anger and 10% have developed anxiety issues. While 60% employees want to quit their jobs because of workplace stress, 20% feel venting it out helps them. For 10% employees relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation help them cope with stress and another 10% take a break and go on vacation to recover from stress. While 90% employees are interested in participating in corporate stress management programs, it is revealing that 80% of them report that there are no such programs offered by their organizations states the TimesJobs Study. Stress causes many long-term adverse impacts, in order to combat this growing menace employers must work with their employees to diagnose and cure this rampant condition. Having an employee-friendly culture, a flexible work environment, feedback and recognition programs, stress management sessions and open communication policies are some steps that can help reduce stress levels within organizations significantly.
news
16-11-2016
New Saudi rules, fees for helpers, vehicles, cattle
KUWAIT: The interior ministry’s relations and security media department announced that Saudi Arabia has started implementing new measures concerning the entry of domestic helpers accompanying Kuwaiti families into the kingdom. The department highlighted that the new visa fees for helpers would be 2,000 riyals per visit instead of the earlier fee of 200 riyals. In addition, vehicles with Kuwaiti license plates can only remain in Saudi Arabia for a maximum period of three months. The department noted that the Hamteyyat land border exit has been closed and cattle owners who want to take their herds to graze in Saudi Arabia can only go through the Khafji and Reqee land border exits. Accordingly, the department urged all citizens to respect the new rules in order to avoid delays at these exits. Separately, the department said the manager of the domestic helpers department Mohammed Al-Ajmi announced the cancellation of 42 domestic help offices that failed to legalize their statuses as per article 50 of the domestic labor act no. 68/2015 and clause no. 7 of article 17 of the ministerial decision number 2194/2016, that went into effect yesterday. Accordingly, no visas would be issued for these offices. He also noted that the department has received applications to establish 41 new offices and four companies. Ajmi explained that article 50 of law 68/2015 states that licensed domestic help recruitment offices operating at the time the law was passed had to adjust and legalize their statuses within a maximum of three months of the issuance of the law’s executive charter. Ajmi added that article 17 of ministerial decision no. 2194/2016 states that the license will be cancelled if the owner loses any of the license conditions, violates article 4 of the law, it is proved that the license was issued using fake documents, the license expires or is terminated, the owner relinquishes the license, the office is used as labor dormitory or for not adjusting the office’s legal status according to law number 68/2015.
news
14-11-2016
GCC labor officials discuss uniform law for protection of disabled
RIYADH: The preparatory meeting for the 33rd session of the ministers of labor and social affairs from the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held here Sunday discussed a number of key issues including a uniform law for the protection of persons with disabilities and a coordination body for joint charity work in the Gulf region. Undersecretaries of the ministries of labor and social development opened the preparatory meeting, while the 33rd meeting of the minsters will officially open Tuesday in Riyadh to discuss the joint strategy on labor and social development as well as conditions of foreign workers in the region, a senior official from the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development told Arab News. Labor and Social Development Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani heads the current session of the GCC labor and social affairs ministers’ council. Commenting on the agenda during the preparatory meeting, Khalid Aba Al-Khail, spokesman for the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, said: “Undersecretaries of the ministry of labor and social affairs from member states met here at the GCC general secretariat, and will resume discussions on Monday on a number of topics including a unified draft law on the protection of disabled people.” They will also discuss important issues, such as “how GCC citizens residing in any member country would benefit from social services provided by the country to its citizens,” he said. The GCC as a common market will also be discussed, he pointed out, saying the officials will also discuss a uniform system for voluntary work in addition to a proposal presented by Bahrain on the formation of a coordination body for joint charity work. Moreover, a GCC unified strategy for social development and objectives of sustainable development for 2030, and mechanisms for implementation of recommendations of a GCC youth workshop in the social field are also under consideration for the meeting, he said. GCC officials will also discuss resolutions of the previous sessions of the GCC Supreme Council on Social Affairs, which fall within the jurisdictions of the GCC ministries of labor and social affairs. They will further explore how to put the GCC organizations and offices under the umbrella of the GCC General Secretariat, under the supervision of the GCC Ministerial Council and other committees in charge of GCC organizations and offices, which will help rationalize spending and avoid duplicity. It is also expected to ensure smooth work of GCC organizations and their integration into GCC joint efforts for common benefits, the spokesman said. The current meeting of the labor ministers will honor GCC companies, which played a leading role in the nationalization of the jobs in the GCC countries, and owners of distinguished small-scale enterprises in the member countries. The outcome from the meeting will help activate common working mechanisms and help achieve the requirements of the Gulf labor market.
news
12-11-2016
Human trafficking decreasing in Dubai: Police chief
Crimes related to human trafficking have decreased in the emirate of Dubai to six this year from 35 in 2010 due to extensive campaigns to increase the community’s awareness about the dangers of such crimes, said Lt. General Khamis Mattar Al Muzainah, Commander-in-chief of Dubai Police. Muzainah was speaking at a graduation ceremony where the first batch of 22 graduates was awarded diploma for a course on human trafficking and its prevention. ''Dubai Police pay significant attention to the issue of combating human trafficking crimes and they are teaming up with other partners and stakeholders to update training and qualification programmes within its strategy to deliver security and stability,'' he said in his address. ''The degree, the first of its kind in the Arab World, aims to qualify an elite group of government employees to handle such crimes with high professionalism and competence,'' he noted. They gained theoretical and practical skills and knowledge on mechanisms to detect and prevent crimes in human trafficking, help and protect victims, offer psychological support for them and fight all forms and manifestations of the crime. He said that 1,635 trainees had participated in 40 workshops on combating crimes related to trafficking in human beings and 16,647 people had benefited from 56 awareness lectures organised by Dubai Police's Human Trafficking Crime Control Center (HTCCC). He said Dubai Police in partnership with the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT) launched two campaigns from 2013 to 2015 to educate arrivals through Dubai International Airport about the danger of the crime. Over the last two years, an awareness campaign targeted domestic helpers recruitment agencies. Addressing the ceremony, Dr. Abdul Rahim Al Awadi, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Legal Affairs, the launch of the programme was a creative idea and supported the government's effort to fight the human trafficking crime. '' Seventeen cases of human trafficking was registered in 2015 under Federal Law No. (51) of 2006 on Combating Human Trafficking Crimes, an indicator of the success of the campaign launched by the government ten years ago,'' he said in his an address read on behalf of Addressing the ceremony on behalf of Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Chairman of NCCHT. ''The UAE's anti-human trafficking experiment has become a leading model globally,'' he added. The anti-human trafficking diploma programme includes all issues related to international agreement in human trafficking which will help officials develop techniques needed for investigation and protection of human trafficking victims. The training programme is in line with the strategy of the NCCHT that focuses on four issues - prevention, penalty, victim care and enhancing international cooperation.
news
11-11-2016
Saudi govt to settle dues with private sector companies before year-end
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will pay by next month the money it owes private companies, a committee headed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Monday. “The council came up with a package of solutions and procedures to settle the dues that met the requirements of spending,” SPA reported after a regular meeting of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs. Solutions “will be implemented immediately and completed before December 2016,” it said, in a discussion of the delayed payments. The council discussed “the necessary procedures to pay the amounts owed to the private sector from the public treasury,” SPA said. “The payment was late due to the sharp decline in oil revenue and the measures taken by the Kingdom to reduce spending on a number of projects.” SPA added that priorities were rearranged according “to impact and efficiency,” but there had been “obstacles to implement the procedures.” The arrears have left foreign workers, chiefly in the construction sector, struggling for months while they await back wages, AFP reported. In April, the deputy crown prince announced a wide-ranging plan for economic diversification and social change in the coming years. Saudi Arabia has taken a series of measures, including subsidy cuts, reductions in Cabinet ministers’ salaries and delays in major projects. According to SPA, billions of riyals have been saved by rescheduling and modifying contracts, while “a large number” of projects were stopped, saving tens of billions more. Early last month Saudi Binladin Group said the government had transferred some payment in the previous two weeks, allowing it to cover some back wages to its remaining staff. The company had already finished payments to around 70,000 laid-off workers.
news
09-11-2016
Labor attachés to take up manpower recruitment
RIYADH — The labor attaché offices approved by the Council of Ministers to be set up in seven manpower-exporting countries will be in charge of recruitment and supervision of training centers for workers to be sent to the Kingdom, business daily Al-Eqtisadiah reported on Tuesday quoting the spokesmen of the ministries of labor and social development and foreign affairs. The Cabinet approved on Monday the setting up of labor attaché offices in Egypt, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Spokesman of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development Khaled Aba Al-Khail said the attaches will make efforts to further strengthen cooperation with manpower exporting countries and will represent the Kingdom on all labor issues in these countries. Aba Al-Khail also said the attachés will develop an employment mechanism for expatriates to be recruited for work in Saudi Arabia. He was of the opinion that the appointment of labor attachés would facilitate coordination with labor-exporting countries, ensure the recruitment of qualified labor and make workers more aware of the Kingdom’s culture, customs and traditions. “The labor attaches will work closely with the Saudi embassy in the recruiting country and the Foreign Ministry on all issues related to foreign manpower recruitment,” he said. Ambassador Osama Nukali, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the embassy, which represents the ministry, will undertake diplomatic coordination with the host country. “The embassies act as a diplomatic umbrella for all cultural, commercial, military and labor attachés,” he said.
news
08-11-2016
KSA to have labor attaches in 7 worker exporting countries
RIYADH — The Council of Ministers on Monday approved the setting up of labor attache offices at Saudi embassies in Egypt, India, Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. The weekly session of the Cabinet, chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, at Al-Yamama Palace in Riyadh, took this decision after reviewing the recommendation of the Permanent Committee at the Council of Economic and Development Affairs. In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency following the session, Minister of State, Member of Cabinet and Acting Minister of Culture and Information Essam Bin Saad said that the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, in coordination with the ministries of foreign and civil service, has to fix the number of Saudi and non-Saudi employees at the offices to help labor attaches. The Cabinet also entrusted these three ministries to define the duties of the offices. In July, Saudi Gazette had reported that the Ministry of Labor and Social Development was planning to appoint labor attachés in countries from where the Kingdom hires expat workers. “The ministry thinks that labor attachés can restrict recruitment brokers and regulate the recruitment business. “The ministry hopes to clean the recruitment market off brokers and offer a fully organized recruitment market,” a source said at that time. Meanwhile, King Salman briefed the Cabinet on the outcome of his telephone conversation with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and his assertion that the Kingdom would stand by Lebanon and support its unity and integrity. The Cabinet also emphasized what was mentioned in the final statement issued by the Executive Committee of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) at the level of foreign ministers which was held to discuss the dangerous development of launching of the ballistic missile by Houthi militias toward Makkah. The OIC meeting noted that Allah Almighty has honored Saudi Arabia to bear full responsibility for the service and care of the Two Holy Mosques, as well as the holy sites and pilgrims since its foundation. The meeting also underscored that the Kingdom would never be negligent in fulfilling this sacred trust. It said that who are supporting this transgressing group and providing it with weapons and smuggling ballistic missiles and weapons are considered a firm partner in the attack on the sanctities of the Islamic world, a clear party in sowing sectarian strife and a key supporter of terrorism. While welcoming the Kingdom’s signing of the Paris climate change agreement at UN headquarters in New York on Friday, the Cabinet said that the move shows the Kingdom’s prime concern for climate change as well as fighting its causes and preventing all types of emissions that contribute to climate change. The Cabinet also underscored the need to ensure the provision of safe and reliable sources of energy. Essam said the Cabinet approved two draft agreements: One pertaining to border and the second for combating crimes between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, signed earlier in Doha. It also endorsed an agreement for cooperation and news exchange between Saudi Press Agency and Qatar News Agency. The Council authorized deputy crown prince, second deputy premier and minister of defense, or his deputy to discuss and sign a memorandum of understanding in military cooperation with Sudan’s ministry of defense and then present it to the cabinet for completing legal procedures.
news
07-11-2016
Changes in Nitaqat program approved
Jeddah — Minister of Labor and Social Development Mufrej Al-Haqbani has approved amendments in the Nitaqat Saudization program for the classification of various establishments. Firms with one to five workers will be renamed from very small firms to small category A. Those with 6 to 49 workers will be renamed from small firms to small firms category B. The new classifications will come into effect from Dec. 11. Spokesman of the ministry Khlaed Abalkhair said the amendments are in keeping with the development of the balanced Nitaqat program. The ministry had approved earlier a new classification for medium size firms by dividing them into three categories as per the number of workers. According to the new classification, medium size firms under category A will have 50 to 99 workers, category B will have 100 to 199 workers and category C will have 199 to 499 workers. The balanced Nitaqat program will register points scored by each firm according to five factors: the percentage of Saudization, the average salaries of Saudi workers, the percentage of Saudi women workers, job sustainability for Saudis, the percentage of Saudis with high salaries.
news
03-11-2016
Qatar pledges ‘100% compliance’ on key labor reform
DOHA — Qatar said it expects “100 percent compliance” from businesses by the end of 2016 on a labor reform introduced to ensure the country’s vast migrant workforce receive their salaries on time. Government figures released in Doha on Wednesday to mark the one-year anniversary of the introduction of the Wage Protection System (WPS) show that 1.8 million — around 85 percent — of Qatar’s 2.1 million workforce are now paid electronically. That works out at around 37,000 companies. But a senior Labor Ministry official told AFP that all companies will sign up to the scheme by the end of December. “Our aim is to have 100 percent compliance by the end of the year,” said Mohammed Ali Al-Meer, director of Qatar’s labor inspection department. “We have a commitment from the (remaining) 15 percent, we have contacted them.” The WPS was introduced on Nov. 2 last year by the 2022 football World Cup host in an attempt to improve labor conditions following widespread international criticism of Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers. Failure to pay salaries on time, especially for low-waged blue collar workers, was one of the biggest complaints voiced by rights groups against companies in the energy-rich Gulf state. A 2013 academic study, “Portrait of Low-Income Migrants in Contemporary Qatar,” found that around a fifth of migrant workers were “sometimes, rarely or never” paid on time. Bosses of companies who do not pay staff on time face fines of up to 6,000 Qatari riyals ($1,650) for every worker who did not receive their salary, and up to one month in jail, under the WPS. Labor officials said 385 violations had been recorded by companies still not paying workers on time in the past 12 months, though it was unclear whether any bosses had been imprisoned. Along with the figures, a statement from Labor Minister Issa Bin Saad Al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi on Wednesday said WPS had ensured “greater protections for workers”. The reform has been largely welcomed by critics, but there have been complaints that the government dragged its heels in introducing the system — it was initially delayed for several months — and has not been strong enough in enforcing compliance, a charge denied by Doha. “The ministry is tough enough dealing with companies that don’t comply with the WPS system,” insisted Meer. Despite this, problems still exist. In September it was reported that as many as 400 migrant staff working for an electrical company in Qatar had gone unpaid for up to four months. Mustafa Qadri, a specialist researcher with human rights consultancy group Equidem, said the WPS had “shown the way forward” but further labor reform was needed. “Most migrant workers continue to pay large recruitment fees to come to Qatar that leave them heavily indebted,” he said. “They still require their sponsor’s permission to change jobs or leave the country. And, critically, Qatar’s labor system still struggles to ensure companies respect minimum labor standards.” — AP
news
02-11-2016
Common insurance system to ease labor movement in GCC countries
Minister of Labor and Social Development Mufrej Al-Haqabani with other officials at a meeting of the heads of GCC civil retirement and social insurance departments in Riyadh on Tuesday. (AN photo) RIYADH: Minister of Labor and Social Development Mufrej Al-Haqabani confirmed that developing a common system to extend insurance protection for Gulf citizens working in any of the GCC’s countries will encourage the mobility of labor forces between these countries, and realize economic and social stability in accordance with the strategies of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Minister Al-Haqabani was speaking on Tuesday during the inauguration of the sixteenth meeting of the heads of GCC civil retirement and social insurance departments at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh. He said that tuning and adjusting the insurance protection among Gulf countries represents a fundamental pillar in the Gulf joint action in order to encourage the labor force in the region to move with ease and freedom to work in any of the Gulf states with obtaining the adequate protection either in his home country or any of the other countries of the Gulf region. The minister added: “The interdependent systems of insurance face some problems, but it’s important to develop the working mechanisms of these systems, benefit from international experiences, and develop mechanisms of improvement and follow-up. There are numerous ways we can utilize to improve the financial capacity of social insurance agencies and institutions in the region.” He emphasized the importance of devising innovative solutions that should contribute to boosting insurance benefits, and realizing a financial balance. He hoped this meeting will come up with new ideas and visions to enhance loyalty to the private sector, and promote ways to help Gulf workers have access to labor markets in the region. The governor of the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI), Suleiman bin Abdul Rahman Gwaiz, said the 16th meeting of GCC civil retirement and social insurance departments comes within the joint cooperation between civil and social security retirement institutions in GCC states to provide insurance protection to the nationals of the Gulf region. He noted that the meeting would discuss developments in the application of the common system to provide insurance protection to nationals of GCC countries working in any member state in the council other than their own. “The meeting will also follow up on the implementation of the decisions taken in the previous meetings, and will review the report on the results of the work of the standing technical committee for civil retirement and social security,” explained the governor of GOSI. Gwaiz added the meeting will strengthen ways of cooperation between retirement and social insurance institutions in the GCC countries to extend the social protection system approved during the higher council meeting in Bahrain in 2004, and its application in 2006. “The system mandates each country to extend insurance protection for its citizens upon working in any Gulf country in the public or private sectors,” he explained. He revealed that the number of subscribers in the system in 2010 was 18,000 people. “This increased to 28,000 current subscribers and beneficiaries,” he added. Abdullah bin Juma Al-Shibli, the assistant secretary-general for economic and development affairs of the secretariat of the GCC, said the system of insurance protection is a testimony to the joint cooperation between the Gulf states and the blessed achievements made over its course. “This meeting comes to complement the previous achievements, and to approve further joint projects and programs to realize the goals and aspirations of the leaders of GCC countries in terms of devising ways to provide comfort, stability, and security for Gulf citizens. Work is in progress to boost the services provided for Gulf citizens in the field of retirement and social protection. The meeting will also discuss the topics listed on the agenda, including the extension of the social protection system,” explained Al-Shibli.
news
02-11-2016
16 Saudi companies register for distance employment
Jeddah — Up to 16 companies have registered with the Ministry of Labor and Social Development to hire employees who work from home, according to General Manager of the Human Resource Development Fund Abdul Kareem Al-Nijaidi. This will help women and special needs people work from home, Nijaidi told a human resource forum here on Tuesday. Distance employment will include six programs such as employment in programming, translation and e-business among others in Madinah, Qasim, Hail, Al-Ahsa, Jazan and Najran. Nijaidi also said that working women may enjoy nursery and transportation facilities after spending four months on the job in Riyadh, Hail and Asir. By 2020, the program is expected to serve 150,000 working women in all regions of the Kingdom. He said the ministry has also launched a special support initiative for small businesses which are offered SR3,000 each month for two years. Nijaidi said a total of SR11 million was earmarked to support the employment of Saudis in the telecommunication sector. According to ministry figures, it has trained 36,937 employees and 129,534 students. Nijaidi said they want to increase from the current 300,000 to one million trained persons soon. He said there are 81,000 job opportunities and 71,000 employers looking for qualified candidates. There are 290,000 Saudis registered on Hafiz.
news
31-10-2016
126 recruitment offices stopped from recruiting from 8 countries
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has stopped 126 recruitment offices from recruiting domestic workers from the 8 approved countries due to their violations of the regulations and rules of recruitment activities. Khalid Aba Al-Khail, the spokesman of the ministry, said that they follow individuals and offices that operate illegally in recruiting domestic workers in the Kingdom. Currently Saudis may recruit domestic workers from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam, Sir Lanka, Tanzania and Niger. The cost of the domestic helps from these countries range from SR8,000 to SR22,000. The employer may request having a maid, nanny, nurse, driver or worker. The violating individuals or offices might be accused of human trafficking and their businesses closed and they may also be made to pay fines of SR10,000. The ministry called on the public to deal only with certified offices, which are on Musaned online portal. The ministry also did not renew the licenses to 6 offices and it canceled the license for 7 other offices. Lately the ministry had acted on some 7,000 complaints against the recruitment offices. These complaints range from the manipulating of the prices and not sticking to the agreed time to provide services to their clients. In the same context the ministry returned SR1.7 million to Saudis from various regions, who were not provided with the services promised by the recruitment offices. According to Musaned system of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the domestic workers have the right to get 9 hours of rest a day and also have weekend based on the agreement with the sponsor. The system also obliges the sponsor to provide health care for the domestic workers. The worker has also the right for a paid sick leave for no more than 30 days a year. The domestic worker has also the right for one month vacation after staying for two years with his sponsor. Also the domestic worker has the right to get a bonus if he/she stays with the employer for 4 continuous years. The sponsor has the right to have a trial period that does not exceed 90 days in which he can check the effectiveness of the domestic worker and his/her behavior. The contract is in three copies one stays with the recruitment office, one with the employer and a third with the domestic worker.
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27-10-2016
Training stressed for improved Nitaqat to succeed
The new Saudization system comes in line with Vision 2030 and is expected to realize the objectives of the National Transformation Program 2020. (SPA) RIYADH: Various sectors of the Kingdom have expressed optimism regarding the announced launching of the balanced (Mawzoon) Nitaqat system on Dec. 11. However, they underscored the necessity of training for the success of the Saudization program, which has drawn the attention of many concerned individuals who are willing to help. Last year, author and Islamic scholar Dr. Mohsin Sheikh Al-Hassan hosted a show, “Jobs on Air,” on Saudi-owned television channel, Al-Danah, in support of the program. Over 100,000 jobs were generated for young Saudis. “The enhanced Nitaqat is good. But it’s a fact that many of those seeking jobs need to undergo training,” said Khalil Al-Jehani, a lawyer who manages his own law firm in the Saudi capital. He added that “the Saudization program may be running at full speed but it gets stuck because job applicants lack the necessary skills for their jobs.” “If Saudis seeking jobs undergo sufficient training, they’ll perform well. They’ll not also count the hours being on the job because they love what they’re doing,” he said. He added that at the end of the day, the enhanced Nitaqat may not achieve its aim under the Vision 2030 plan of the government if training is not undertaken. In this connection, the Technical Training Institute (TVTC) has been doing its share. It has been conducting training among Saudi youths in various sectors such as telecommunications, management, tourism, and others. In a recent statement, TVTC said that it had rehabilitated more than 37,633 Saudis in the telecommunications sector with the support of the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF). The TVTC added that it had also signed an agreement with Maaden to train 550 youths in the Northern Border Region. After their training, they will work in Maaden’s projects in the region. Manie Al-Khelewy, managing director of Saudi Advanced Services Co. (SAS), said that the reported implementation of an improved Nitaqat is good. “It’s a shot in the arm as far as Saudis are concerned, especially the youth,” he said, adding that it will go a long way in solving unemployment in the Kingdom. The ministry aims to reduce unemployment rate from 11.7 percent to 9.3 percent by the year 2020. However, he said that the enhanced Nitaqat should be good enough for Saudi employees so that they can do their jobs efficiently. “Under the enhanced Nitaqat, they should have a stable job, good working conditions and a good salary because they spend money on food, clothes, transportation, among others. A car won’t run without gasoline,” he said. In a recent press conference at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), the Ministry of Labor and Social Development announced that the improved Nitaqat is an extension of the existing one. Deputy Labor Minister Ahmed Al-Humaidan told the press that the enhanced Nitaqat had additional features, in which the ministry is looking at the percentage of Saudi females in an organization. The more females there are in an organization, the more points it can get from the system. The ministry is also looking into the average income and average wages of Saudis. Moreover, it’s also looking for job stability and higher pay for Saudis. Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Minister for Policy Dr. Ahmed Qattan said that the current Nitaqat had achieved its purpose “but it has to be enhanced to keep in step with development.” The new Saudization system comes in line with Vision 2030 and is expected to realize the objectives of the National Transformation Program 2020.
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26-10-2016
Saudi women launch drive to bring down maids’ wages
JEDDAH — A group of Saudi women has launched a campaign to bring down the exorbitantly high wages of domestic helpers. The move follows a series of successful boycott campaigns launched by Saudis against traders and telecom companies for raising the prices of essential commodities and services. Saudi women have formed a group to stop the monopoly of housemaids who work illegally after running away from their sponsors. Although the wages of housemaids have been standardized at SR2,000 a month, the campaigners feel that even SR2,000 is a high salary and it should be brought down to SR1,000, especially when Saudi families’ income has dwindled as a result of austerity measures. They are asking Saudi families not to pay salaries higher than SR1,000 to their maids. The government has cut ministers’ salaries by 20 percent and scaled back allowances for public sector employees. The measures, disclosed in a Cabinet statement last month, constitute the first pay cuts for government employees, who make up about two-thirds of working Saudis. The measures included cancellation of some bonuses and financial benefits.
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24-10-2016
Special labor courts launched
RIYADH: Following three strings of postponements during the past few years, the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Judicial Council have taken new steps to launch the long-awaited special labor courts in Saudi Arabia. The steps were initiated by naming 99 assistant judges to undergo training courses on solving labor disputes, and other labor issues and litigation, in addition to assigning 80 judges to assume their judicial tasks after being trained to work in these new labor courts which are expected to begin functioning during this current year, according to Justice Ministry sources. Walid Al-Samaani, minister of justice and president of the Supreme Judicial Council, approved the initial list of assistant judges to be trained in judicial works through a three-month course pending their appointment. They will be appointed at five labor courts which will be launched in Jeddah, Riyadh, Damman, Makkah and Madinah, in addition to labor dispute settlement offices affiliated with other courts across the Kingdom. The Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Judicial Council assigned 80 judges on duty to be transferred later to the labor courts. Meanwhile, the president of the Supreme Judicial Council canceled a previous decision to mandate the training mission of assistant judges to the labor committees. The Ministry of Justice last week decided to task the training mission to the Higher Judicial Institute under the supervision of the judicial training center. The number of labor cases received by the initial commission for labor disputes last year stood at 9,956, of which 4,241 involved Saudi citizens, a rate of 42.6 percent, with the remaining 5,715 cases involving non-Saudis, a rate of 57.4 percent. The number of cases involving Saudis which were considered and settled stood at 3,714 cases. Non-official sources estimated the number of cases to be referred to the labor courts to stand at 20,000.
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22-10-2016
Saudi, Indian ministers hold talks to help laid-off workers return home .
RIYADH: Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development Ahmed Al-Humaidan held a "productive meeting" with visiting Indian Minister of State for External Affairs V. K. Singh in Riyadh on Thursday to help laid-off Indian workers to return home. Anil Nautiyal, first secretary for community welfare at the Indian Embassy, told Arab News on Friday that the two leaders met in Riyadh to facilitate the return of these nationals to India. “Singh also thanked the Saudi government for their full cooperation in solving the problem,” he said. Commenting on his Riyadh visit, Singh tweeted: "In Riyadh to solve problems of our workers. Had positive discussions with vice minister labor.” Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, Nautiyal said: “In a positive development, the first batch of laid off workers from Saad Group in Dammam were flown back to India on Thursday night. The next batch of about 120 workers are expected to fly back home to India in a day or two." A total of 1,740 workers have been sent home by the embassy in last two months, he said, noting that the good work of the embassy has been acknowledged by Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who tweeted: "Indian embassy deserves appreciation for doing outstanding work.” Indian Ambassador Ahmed Javed also accompanied the visiting minister during the meeting. Singh flew back home at the conclusion of the talks on Friday. Like other expatriate workers, hundreds of Indians working in the Kingdom lost their jobs after their employers went out of business due to financial constraints. Because of this, the two governments intervened in August to help laid-off workers from companies such as the Binladen Group and Saudi Oger. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has directed the Minister for Labor and Social Development Mufrej Al-Haqabani to take all necessary measures to solve the issues facing Indian workers in this regard
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21-10-2016
Non-governmental organizations can register to operate legally
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development said that new organizations can register themselves according to the NGO Law that allows organizations and societies to operate legally in the Kingdom. The law allows for establishing organizations according to 10 main classifications that break down to 24 sub-classifications that range between sports, culture, science, guidance and environment, to cover areas that were never allowed in the Kingdom. The ministry said that these classifications include organizations which aim to enhance the social lives of people with limited income, push them to achieve development, and help them overcome their neediness by becoming productive. The new law includes new developments and features that ensure flexibility for members of society. In addition, the law includes main subjects such as culture, entertainment, arts, education and research, health, social and human services, the environment and wildlife protection, development and housing, advocacy and support (legal services and public safety), philanthropic organizations, advocacy, counseling and religious education, and professional and scientific organizations. The law includes all non-profit groups that have an ongoing organizational structure to achieve charity, or any of the other fields mentioned above. Family and civil funds are considered a kind of civil institutions. Regulations state that each fund needs to be governed by a stricture.
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21-10-2016
PM urges ministry to speed up Qatarization of jobs
Doha: Government officials should swiftly finalize their plan to “appoint Qatari citizens in jobs occupied by foreigners,” the country’s prime minister has said. According to QNA, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani added that Qataris must meet the necessary requirements for such positions. Al Thani raised the issue recently while speaking to the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor & Social Affairs (MADLSA). He didn’t specify whether the jobs were to be in the public or private sector. But last year, officials did pledge to further nationalize government positions so that some nine out of 10 such jobs would be held by Qataris by 2026.
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21-10-2016
Labour law reforms awareness drive starts:
Qatar: A two-month awareness campaign to promote wider understanding of the planned changes to Qatar's labour laws gets under way this week. The initiative, led by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, seeks to educate employers and members of Qatar's expatriate community about their rights and obligations under Law No. 21 of 2015, ahead of the reform's implementation in December this year. Commenting on the campaign, the Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs HE Dr Issa bin Saad al Jafali al Nuaimi, said:"The significant changes to Qatar's labour laws in December will require employers, embassies, Qatar Chamber and other official entities to understand how to comply with the new legal framework around the labour laws. Workers will also need to be aware of their rights and obligations under the new law."
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20-10-2016
Several workers injured in Aramco oil facility blaze
DAMMAM – Several workers were injured in a fire at a Saudi Aramco crude oil facility near Riyadh on Wednesday, the Saudi Press Agency reported quoting the company sources. The Saudi Aramco emergency response teams, in cooperation with the Civil Defense, were able to contain the fire, SPA said. “Saudi Aramco regrets to report that several workers were injured as a result of a fire at 3 p.m. at a crude oil facility in Alwsea and all are being treated,” it said in a post on its Twitter account. “The fire is under control. Company’s operations are not impacted,” it added. Aramco did not immediately give an exact number of those hurt but Al-Riyadh newspaper said 17 people were admitted to King Abdulaziz Medical City under the National Guard. Three of the injured were receiving treatment in intensive care unit. “Most of them sustained minor injuries and a number of them have been discharged,” the newspaper said adding that no cases of death reported.
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19-10-2016
UAE opens new consular, visa centre in New Delhi
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) opened a centre for consular services and visa-issuance, the sixth outside the UAE, in New Delhi. It would process visa applications and further facilitate and speed up the entry of Indian citizens and residents of the sub-continent to the UAE via e-gates at the country's points of entry. The consular section and the visa centre are aimed at enhancing consular co-operation between the UAE and India, delivering better customer service, and streamlining the entry of Indian workers, said Under-Secretary at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Mohammed Mer Al Raisi, while inaugurating the services in the presence of Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung, Assistant Under-Secretary at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, UAE Ambassador to India Dr. Ahmed Abdulrahman Al Banna, Director of the Consular Section in New Delhi Rehab Al Mansouri, and a number of senior Indian officials. Thanking the Indian government for its constructive efforts in promoting bilateral relations with the UAE, the official said ties with India are witnessing significant progress in several spheres. The new facilities were an important achievement for improving bilateral relations between the two countries, Jung noted. The system used at the centre is one the most efficient in the world and with the global standards it upholds, it will shorten the time required for processing visa applications, he said while thanking the UAE for the positive initiative. Indians willing to apply for a visa to work in the UAE can present their documents, biometrics, and results of medical checks issued by accredited medical facilities. The centre will verify the applicant's original passports, biometrics including Iris scans and face prints, medical fitness certificates issued by 10 centres in New Delhi that are accredited by the GCC Approved Medical Centres Association, or GAMCA, proving that the applicant is free from transmittable diseases. The procedures will save the costs of recruitment, quarantine and deportation, and improve customer service, as they are aimed at providing excellent consular services fulfilling internationally recognised standards as well as the UAE Cabinet’s seven-star service standards. Through the new centre, the UAE foreign ministry provides all related administrative services in co-operation with the Ministry of Interior using a fully integrated electronic system within an advanced framework of security controls aimed at achieving maximum protection for visa and entry procedures.
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18-10-2016
Govt staff to get salaries as per Solar Hijri calendar
RIYADH — Government employees will now get their salaries on the fifth day of each Solar Hijri month, according to a source at the Ministry of Finance. The ministry’s announcement has caused confusion among citizens as many social media users began inquiring about the exact date when they will receive their next salary and what exactly is the Solar Hijri calendar. The Kingdom mainly follows the Hijri calendar in most of its affairs and considers the Hijri calendar as its official calendar. However, various sectors in the Kingdom have been following the Gregorian calendar since 1975. In an attempt to unify the dates between sectors, the ministry decided to distribute the salaries of government employees according to the Solar Hijri calendar, said the source. The Solar Hijri (SH) calendar is considered more accurate than the Gregorian calendar as it follows astronomical calculations rather than mathematical rules. The Solar Hijri calendar corresponds to each of the 12 zodiac signs. The first six months of the Solar Hijri calendar have 31 days, the next five months of the calendar have 30 days and the last month of the calendar has 29 days in regular years and 30 days in leap years. So, based on the Solar Hijri calendar, the salaries for the current month will be dispensed on the fifth day of the Cancer zodiac sign which coincides with Oct. 28, said the source. The salaries for next month will be issued on Nov. 26, he added. The fifth day of the Scorpion sign for this year corresponds to Muharram 26 and Oct. 28. The fifth day of the Sagittarius sign for this year corresponds to Safar 26 and Nov. 26. The fifth day of the Capricorn sign for this year corresponds to Rabi Awal 27 and Dec. 26. The fifth day of the Aquarius sign for this year corresponds to Rabi Thani 27 and Jan. 25, said the source. The fifth day of the Pisces sign for this year corresponds to Jamadi Awal 27 and Feb. 24. The fifth day of the Aries sign for this year corresponds to Jamadi Akhir 26 and March 25. The fifth day of the Taurus sign for this year corresponds to Rajab 28 and April 25. The fifth day of the Gemini sign for this year corresponds to Shaaban 30 and May 26. The fifth day of the Cancer sign for this year corresponds to Shawal 2 and June 26. The fifth day of the Leo sign for this year corresponds to Dhul Qidah 4 and July 27. The fifth day of the Virgo sign for this year corresponds to Dhul Hijjah 5 and Aug. 27. The fifth day of the Libra sign corresponds to Muharram 5 of 1439 and Sept. 26 of 2017. We are in 1395 Solar Hijri year.
news
18-10-2016
Govt staff to get salaries as per Solar Hijri calendar
RIYADH — Government employees will now get their salaries on the fifth day of each Solar Hijri month, according to a source at the Ministry of Finance. The ministry’s announcement has caused confusion among citizens as many social media users began inquiring about the exact date when they will receive their next salary and what exactly is the Solar Hijri calendar. The Kingdom mainly follows the Hijri calendar in most of its affairs and considers the Hijri calendar as its official calendar. However, various sectors in the Kingdom have been following the Gregorian calendar since 1975. In an attempt to unify the dates between sectors, the ministry decided to distribute the salaries of government employees according to the Solar Hijri calendar, said the source. The Solar Hijri (SH) calendar is considered more accurate than the Gregorian calendar as it follows astronomical calculations rather than mathematical rules. The Solar Hijri calendar corresponds to each of the 12 zodiac signs. The first six months of the Solar Hijri calendar have 31 days, the next five months of the calendar have 30 days and the last month of the calendar has 29 days in regular years and 30 days in leap years. So, based on the Solar Hijri calendar, the salaries for the current month will be dispensed on the fifth day of the Cancer zodiac sign which coincides with Oct. 28, said the source. The salaries for next month will be issued on Nov. 26, he added. The fifth day of the Scorpion sign for this year corresponds to Muharram 26 and Oct. 28. The fifth day of the Sagittarius sign for this year corresponds to Safar 26 and Nov. 26. The fifth day of the Capricorn sign for this year corresponds to Rabi Awal 27 and Dec. 26. The fifth day of the Aquarius sign for this year corresponds to Rabi Thani 27 and Jan. 25, said the source. The fifth day of the Pisces sign for this year corresponds to Jamadi Awal 27 and Feb. 24. The fifth day of the Aries sign for this year corresponds to Jamadi Akhir 26 and March 25. The fifth day of the Taurus sign for this year corresponds to Rajab 28 and April 25. The fifth day of the Gemini sign for this year corresponds to Shaaban 30 and May 26. The fifth day of the Cancer sign for this year corresponds to Shawal 2 and June 26. The fifth day of the Leo sign for this year corresponds to Dhul Qidah 4 and July 27. The fifth day of the Virgo sign for this year corresponds to Dhul Hijjah 5 and Aug. 27. The fifth day of the Libra sign corresponds to Muharram 5 of 1439 and Sept. 26 of 2017. We are in 1395 Solar Hijri year.
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17-10-2016
Minimum salary for visit visas raised to KD 200
KUWAIT: The interior ministry has increased the minimum wage required for a foreigner to issue visit visas for relatives, only a few days after the state approved a decision to raise the salary required for expatriate workers to sponsor their wives and children, in a move said to help curb an increase in the country’s expat population. An expat must now have a minimum salary of KD 200 to apply for a visit visa for his wife or children, said Maj Gen Talal Maarafi, director general of the interior ministry’s residency affairs department. The previous minimum wage was KD 150. Meanwhile, the minimum salary must be KD 300 for an expat applying for a visa for a sibling or any other relative, except for parents, whose age must not exceed 50 years, Maarafi explained. The interior ministry last year set the duration of a visit visa issued for a wife or child to three months, while visit visas for relatives were restricted to one month. Last Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah issued a decision amending the foreign residency law to raise the salary requirement for dependent visas from KD 250 to KD 450, a move expected to cut the number of foreign families in the country. The two most recent steps come as Kuwait scrambles for solutions to address a demographic imbalance problem that is widely blamed for the country’s deteriorating public services and infrastructure and unemployment among other issues. “We have 2,670,000 expats, and if we do not take such measures, this number will double in a few years, creating a bigger problem,” Maarafi told Al-Rai daily. “How can a person whose monthly salary is KD 250 deal with the high cost of living and meet all the demands of his family?” Maarafi said in defense of the interior ministry’s decision. “It is illogical, and keeping it unchanged means costing the state money and commitment towards unproductive manpower.” Maarafi reassured that the decision will not be enforced retroactively, and will only affect dependent visa applications submitted after the decision became effective. Dependent visas issued before the decision can still be renewed based on the old salary, and the same goes for issuing visas for newborns, he added. Only male expatriates are allowed to sponsor a family, according to Kuwait’s residency laws. The average salary of a male expat in the private sector is only KD 247, according to the latest statistics. In case the husband dies, a working mother can sponsor her children, provided that her monthly salary meets the KD 450 minimum requirement, Maarafi explained. Some exceptions will also be made on humanitarian grounds regarding spouses and children, he added. The interior ministry’s recent measures are directly linked to the government’s plan to readjust Kuwait’s population, which is currently dominated by expats at nearly 70 percent, according to sources familiar with the issue. Meanwhile, the same sources who spoke to Al-Rai on the condition of anonymity admitted that a proposal to reduce or set a quota for the number of expat communities in Kuwait will take time to implement, adding that any step in this regard would be taken on a gradual basis in order to minimize any potential negative effects that might happen as a result. “[Rushing the decision] could create confusion in the state’s economic and labor market fields, in addition to the effect a drastic reduction could have on Kuwait’s relations with other countries,” said the sources. The Egyptian government last week urged Kuwait to retract a decision it recently made to reduce the monthly rent allowance paid to expat teachers in public schools from KD 150 to KD 60, which affects nearly 13,000 Egyptian teachers working in the state. Egyptian Minister of Manpower Mohammad Saafan was even quoted in the Kuwaiti press as saying that the ‘crisis’ resulting from this decision will be presented for discussion during the Arab Labor Organization’s meeting late next week in Qatar. Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and Minister of State for Planning and Development Hind Al-Subaih reiterated as well that rectifying Kuwait’s demographic imbalance remains part of the government’s plans, yet its implementation needs “prolonged periods of time”. In other news, Maarafi announced that the interior ministry will implement the interior minister’s decision pertaining with rectifying the situa
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15-10-2016
Govt looking into hiring household workers from more countries
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development said it is studying the possibility of opening the household labor market to more countries, including those that were previously barred by the government for security reasons. Ministry spokesman Khaled Aba Al-Khail said the government is also working on signing more agreements to diversify choices for citizens based on their needs. Announcements will soon be made in this regard, he said. As for countries from which household workers are permitted to be recruited, he said the labor market is open in the Kingdom, and gives citizens the choice of selection recruitment from among various countries. Countries currently open for recruitment are the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, as well as a number of Asian and African countries. “The ministry constantly explores alternatives that are appropriate for the nature of Saudi society, and the ministry accordingly puts the outline and framework in place with exporting countries in the form of signed agreements,” said the spokesman. He attributed the causes of the recruitment crises from time to time to the improvement of economies in exporting countries, as well as social issues in those countries, and that fact that some Asian countries like Hong Kong and Malaysia, also recruit workers from those countries. The chairman of the committee on recruitment offices in Jeddah, Yahya Al-Maqbool, said there are ongoing negotiations between the coordinating committee, which includes officials from the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and a number of owners of recruitment offices, to find solutions to meet the labor market needs for household workers. He stressed the importance of reducing the number of visas to bring it in line with supply and demand, as there are many more visas than there are household workers. He also said that most offices work mostly on recruiting household workers from the Philippines and Bangladesh, and proposed a review and reopening of the doors to importing labor from larger countries, like Indonesia, Thailand and Ethiopia. He said there are recruitment offices that do not comply with the fees prescribed by the ministry for recruitment of household workers, which were set at SR7,000. Prices in the market can reach as high as SR14,000, he said, attributing this to higher costs in labor-exporting countries. He said the set prices are no longer realistic as they were fixed years ago. This is specially the case as there is a larger demand for workers and citizens are willing to pay higher amounts. He said this practice is a violation, with penalties for violating offices including closure, noting that prices should not exceed the set amounts as any increase will force other offices to match these higher prices as well.
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11-10-2016
GCC uniform deal on VAT, selective tax a step closer
RIYADH – The Council of Ministers on Monday authorized minister of finance or his deputy to discuss two draft uniform agreements on value added tax (VAT) and selective tax for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman chaired the weekly session of the Cabinet at Al-Yamama Palace in Riyadh. According to the Saudi Press Agency, the agreements shall be discussed within the framework of the GCC financial and economic committee, and sign them before forwarding the final versions to complete the legal procedures. In a statement to SPA, Minister of Commerce and Investment and Acting Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Majed Al-Qasabi said that the Council also authorized president of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy or his deputy to discuss with the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy a draft agreement for cooperation in the renewable energy between the city and the ministry, and sign it before forwarding the final version to complete the legal procedures. Al-Qasabi said the Council approved signing of agreement with Venezuela to avoid double taxation and tax evasion. The Cabinet lauded the outcome of the Gulf Shield 1 Exercise, conducted by the Eastern Fleet of the Saudi Royal Naval Forces in the Arabian Gulf and Oman Sea waters across the Strait of Hormuz, as well as the joint aerial drill called Al-Jazeerah Eagle in the United Arab Emirates with the participation of air forces of the GCC member states. The Council commended the enhanced cooperation and upgrading of the combating and operational preparedness of the GCC forces that have been achieved through the exercise. With regard to the Kingdom’s participation in the annual joint meetings of the World Bank and the IMF and the meeting of the G20 which were held in Washington, Al-Qasabi said, the Cabinet highlighted the government’s efforts in implementing economic reforms as part of the National Transformation Program to achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. The Council underscored that the application of these reforms would yield a strong, balanced and sustainable economic growth and activate the role of the private sector in enhancing job opportunities and spurring economic growth. The Cabinet reiterated the legitimate right of the countries in the Middle East region for the peaceful use of nuclear energy in accordance with the standards of the International Agency for Atomic Energy, besides highlighting the importance of implementing the agreement on barring the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Council also reaffirmed the position of Arab countries to stand by the side of the Syrian people and exert all possible efforts at the international level to provide safe havens to deliver relief supplies for civilians and demanding the international community to break its silence towards the crimes committed by the Syrian regime. Al-Qasabi said the Cabinet was briefed on a number of domestic matters, including the agreement signed by the Ministry of Housing to construct more than 10,000 residential units in Tarout and Safwa towns in Qatif region in the Eastern Province, and signing of the memorandum of understanding with Bulgaria in the fields of tourism and heritage.
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10-10-2016
Ministry signs agreement to regulate NGOs
UNAIZAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has signed a draft agreement to develop and govern the administrative and financial affairs of the non-governmental organizations. The signing took place at a ministry-affiliated center in Unaizah in Al-Qassim. The draft agreement aims to develop an assessment process for non-profits, train field officers and govern the NGOs in order to ensure transparency and accountability. It is expected that the ministry will implement regulations for NGOs and charitable foundations in the next few weeks. The ministry will launch training programs that target field officers in various regions and hold several meetings to increase awareness of those in charge of running the organizations. The ministry had announced earlier that it would soon implement a newly-formed classification system for NGOs to regulate the sector and was making the assessment data available to the public to take part in the monitoring the activities of charitable organizations. The new system would motivate the nonprofit organizations to apply the best practices as resources will be reallocated and redistributed in the voluntary sector based on competency and efficiency.
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07-10-2016
GCC ministers approve rules against human trafficking
Justice Ministers in the Gulf Cooperation Council member states have agreed on a number of model rules for combating human trafficking. In a final statement after their regular 28th meeting, held in Riyadh Wednesday, the ministers added that a joint panel has been also formed to prepare draft laws for fighting extremism, discrimination, hatred and racism. The conferees also approved a book of ethics for judiciary in the Gulf states. They have endorsed a technique proposed by a Gulf panel to unify the legislative principles in the member states. Earlier, Kuwaiti Minister of Justice and Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Yaqoub Al-Sanea underlined the significance of the GCC justice ministers’ meeting as mainly aiming to overhaul national justice systems and promote inter-GCC cooperation and integration. The minister said efforts to cement cooperation in the fields of justice and judiciary and to gauge the implementation of relevant recommendations and resolutions reflect real and fruitful legal cooperation among the GCC member states’ justice ministries. – Agencies
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06-10-2016
Egyptian manager of a weekly in visa trafficking business
KUWAIT: Residency detectives arrested an Egyptian working as a manager of a weekly for visa trafficking. Security sources said the suspect had been recruiting expats, bringing them to Kuwait and abandoning them to work for others. The sources explained that the suspect had been using the paper, owned by a citizen, whose license was cancelled by the information ministry in February, to issue around 150 visas and sold them for KD 1,200 each.
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05-10-2016
UAE implements new wage protection system; violators to be held accountable, fined Following 15 days of non-payment, Ministry will stop dealing with such companies
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has set forth its new wage protection scheme to benefit workers. The decree was launched by Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, Saqr bin Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, which aims to ensure that employees receive full payment of their salaries. Maher Hamad Al Obed, Assistant Undersecretary, Ministry of Labor for Inspections Affairs, told Arabic daily Emarat Al Youm the authority had taken all-necessary arrangements to start implementing the resolution with new policies and measures introduced to strengthen the protection of workers ' rights in obtaining their wages without delay and in accordance with its due date. Al Obed stressed the importance and role of the resolution, which will contribute to other Ministry policies, bringing greater stability in the employment process, therefore increasing productivity, which is beneficial to the employer and the employee. He noted that the procedures will be in effect from Monday for companies that employ more than 100 workers. Al Obed added that the Ministry will send text message alerts for wages that have been delayed for more than 10 days. He added that the Ministry would stop dealing with such establishments if wages have been delayed over 15 days. “Two main scenarios should be considered in this matter. Firstly, salary delays occur usually if the company fails to pay wages a month from the due date, the second, which refers to completely refraining wages, starts after entering into the second month. However, the decree shall refer to each case in a different matter,” Al-Obed said. If a company delays wages for a month from the due date, it has “entered into a refrainment period”, and the ministry will inform judicial authorities and other related parties to take all necessary punitive measures against the violating company. “If the company fails to pay wages for 60 days from the due date, then administrative fines shall follow, in addition to registered fines for failing to pay wages a month from the due date, as stated above in the first scenario,” Al-Obed added. He emphasised further action would be taken including extending the ban to stop dealing the with the rest of the employer's facilities. He added that the Ministry would ban the registration of any new facility of the company’s owner, which committed the violation. He also said further actions required for non-liquation of the bank guarantee of the installation He added also the established category would be descended to third category within of the classification system of the enterprises of the MoE and enable workers to move from one employer to another. Regarding companies, which have less than 100 workers, Al Obed said that in the event that the ministry was sure that such companies delayed paying the wages the Ministry would halt dealing with them. He added not only that but will apply against them the present measures which stipulates in case delaying of the payment of wages for one month the ministry will stop dealing with it. He added and in case delaying for more than one month it will be referred to the judicial departments.
news
03-10-2016
Govt staff to be paid by Gregorian calendar
RIYADH — Pay and perks of employees working in the public sector will be disbursed in accordance with the Gregorian calendar effective from Oct. 1. This was reported by Online news sites Sabq and Ain Al-Yaum, quoting a decision of the Council of Ministers issued on Sept. 26. The Cabinet took the decision as part of major austerity measures, including 20 percent salary cut of ministers and a moratorium on increment to government staff for the new Hijri year. According to the Cabinet decision, the salaries and allowances will be calculated on the basis of the fiscal year approved for the state in line with the Royal decree issued 30 years ago, on Rabi Al-Thani 12, 1407. The decision to switch from the lunar-based Hijri calendar to the Gregorian one will bring the public sector salary disbursement in line with that of the private sector. The government employees will lose 11 days of payment under the revised mechanism. The Hijri calendar is made up of 12 months of 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the moon, and the year is usually 354 days, 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar.
news
03-10-2016
‘Balanced Nitaqat’ to address labor market challenges
Riyadh — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has unveiled the balanced Nitaqat program to address the ongoing challenges of the labor market. The program will be implemented from Dec. 11. Under the program, five factors will be counted in the implementation of Saudization in each firm. They are percentage of Saudization, average salary of Saudi staff, percentage of women staff, job stability of Saudis, and percentage of Saudis with a higher pay. According to the new rules, the numerical strength of Saudi workers in a firm simply does not count. Their salary, number of women staff, years of service of Saudis, and their grades of jobs will also be counted. According to the balanced Nitaqat program, establishments will be given points based on the five factors. The ministry also prepared an electronic calculator that allows companies to know and improve their status. Dr. Ahmed Qattan, deputy minister for labor policies of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, said the ministry launched the amended version of the program in Ramadan to train the national cadres and empower them to compete in the labor market. The ministry also announced that if the private sector borrows Saudi employees working in the government sector and universities it will be calculated in the Nitaqat Saudization program. The private sector can borrow employees for full time job and on the basis of a labor contract. Borrowing of one Saudi employee from the government sector or university by the private sector will be calculated as one Saudi under the Nitaqat program. The ministry, in cooperation with the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI), has launched an integrated electronic system to include such Saudi staff under the Nitaqat program, the ministry said. According to Qattan, the private sector employers can fill up online application in this regard after visiting the GOSI website. The private employer has to furnish all required details so that GOSI can verify the identity of the said employee from the Civil Service System which is linked to the National Information Center and gave temporary approval. The application form should also contain all details such as the name of the employee, his department, his ID number and number at the Ministry of Labor, date of contract, dates of starting and ending of borrowing, and copy of work contract.
news
01-10-2016
E-visa system explained
KUWAIT: Director of Residency Affairs Maj General Talal Marafi yesterday met with a number of EU diplomats of countries whose citizens will be eligible to use the recently launched e-visa system to explain the system to them. Marafi explained that Kuwait issues visas through immigration departments, Kuwaiti consulates abroad, hotels and commercial companies, direct access through various marine, land and air border exits and finally by using the e-visa system. Marafi added that subjects of 54 countries would benefit from the new system. He also noted that applicants would be contacted through email in case of rejection, which might be only done for security reasons, incomplete information or data or unclear photos on passports. In addition, Marafi explained that instead of checking with Kuwait embassies, those wishing to visit Kuwait could apply online at the Interior Ministry’s website www.moi.gov.kw or have it directly issued at exits in return for a KD 3 fee.
news
30-09-2016
Philippine Embassy renders 21,173 consular services
RIYADH: The Philippine Embassy announced on Thursday that it rendered 21,173 consular services to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in August 2016. For passport and other related services, the embassy processed 6,731 passport applications, broken down as follows: 6,528 renewal applications; 131 new passport applications and 72 replacements of lost passport applications. The embassy also processed 294 passport validity extensions and 93 travel documents. The embassy also conducted three consular mobile missions, as follows: Special five-day consular outreach mission in Alkhobar from Aug. 14 to 18; and on Aug. 19 to 20, and in Jubail on Aug. 26 to 27. On visa services, the embassy issued 362 visas, as follows: 349 temporary visitors’ visas (9A), and 13 diplomatic and official visas (9E). The embassy also processed 229 civil registry documents: 52 reports of marriage; 36 reports of death, and 7 petitions for correction of clerical error under Republic Act 9048. The embassy also provided a total of 3,329 notarial and authentication services: 3,236 notarial and 93 authentications. The embassy also released 4,801 passports
news
29-09-2016
Salary, perk cuts reveal unheard of allowances
JEDDAH — The Council of Ministers’ decision on Monday to slash the salaries and fringe benefits of ministers and Shoura Council members has brought to light a number of allowances about which many people had no idea. Many Saudis did not know that there were special allowances and provisions for “appearance,” “difficult tasks” and “risky missions.” The cuts covered as many as 51 allowances and fringe benefits which were paid to ministers and senior government officials. “I never knew that cashiers in ministries and government departments were being paid ‘honesty’ allowance,” an astonished Saudi citizen told Al-Hayat Arabic daily. “I was astounded that typists were being paid an allowance for typing which was their job for which they were getting salaries,” he said. The salaries of ministers were cut by about 20 percent, reducing the monthly emolument from SR51,750 to SR41,400. The remunerations of Shoura Council members, which were cut by 15 percent, came down to SR22,483 from SR26,450. There are 143 ministers and senior officials in ministers rank. Shoura Council members welcomed the decision, saying that the reduction of their emoluments was in line with the current world economic conditions. “The sacrifices for the homeland are not measured by money but by souls. We are ready to sacrifice even our lives not just a few riyals,” said Fahd Bin Juma, a Shoura member. He urged Saudi families to reduce their expenses. Welcoming the decision, Ahmed Al-Mofreh, another Shoura member, said, “We are facing challenges which require decisiveness and determination. Every citizen should whole heartedly support these decisions.” Mohammed Al-Naji, another member, said the cuts targeted high income people and did not affect ordinary citizens. A number of economists expect the decision to contribute to the rationalization of family spending by between 20 and 30 percent. They also expect the retail and services sector sales to go down by between 25 and 30 percent. Prices of fruits and vegetables have already started to go down, according to Jabbar Al-Bishi, deputy chairman of the committee of vegetables and fruits at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI). “The decisions will have a positive effect on the fruits and vegetable market and the drop in the prices is expected to continue,” he said.
news
29-09-2016
Workers block road to protest salary delay
DAMMAM — Nearly 800 workers of a big business group here came out on the streets and blocked the traffic in protest against unprecedented delay in the disbursement of their salaries. The police had to rush to the scene to disperse the crowd and ease traffic jam on Dammam-Abqaiq Road Tuesday morning. More than 13 police vehicles cordoned off the area to control the protest. The business group owns a reputed hospital in Al-Khobar, a contracting company, a luxury housing compound, and an international school. Most of the protesting workers, who belonged to the group’s contracting company, alleged that they had not been paid their salaries for the past 10 months. A majority of protesting workers were of Asian origin, mainly Indians and Bangladeshis. A volunteer, who coordinates with Indian Embassy, said that the problem had been going on for the past two years. “Many workers had left the Kingdom without settling their final dues. Some in higher grades in the corporate office were allowed by the management to leave with all the benefits, while a large number of workers, mainly unskilled laborers and technicians, continue to suffer for several months,” he said. Mohammed Shahid, an Indian worker who is employed at the contracting company and was part of protesting employees, said, “Our hunger, sickness and sufferings brought us on the streets. We have been pleading with the management for our salaries but to no avail,” he said. A Bangladeshi, who works as a janitor at the hospital, said that he and his several dozen colleagues have been suffering for more than six months. “We have been virtually starving. The kitchen at the camp has no supplies,” he said, adding that many of his colleagues were working without valid iqamas (residence permits) as the company has not renewed them after their expiry.
news
29-09-2016
Private sector to get Nitaqat points for borrowing govt staff
RIYADH – If the private sector borrows Saudi employees working in the government sector and universities it will be calculated in the Nitaqat Saudization program. Minister of Labor and Social Development Mofrej Al-Haqbani has approved this, according to Dr. Ahmad Qattan, undersecretary for labor policies at the ministry. It has been specified that the private sector can borrow the employees for full time job and on the basis of a labor contract, the Saudi Press Agency reported. “Borrowing of one Saudi employee from the government sector or university by the private sector will be calculated as one Saudi under the Nitaqat program. The ministry, in cooperation with the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI), has launched an integrated electronic system to include such Saudi staff under the Nitaqat program,” he said. According to Qattan, the private sector employers can fill up online application in this regard after visiting the GOSI website. The private employer has to furnish all required details so that GOSI can verify the identity of the said employee from the Civil Service System which is linked to the National Information Center and gave temporary approval. The application form should also contain all details such as the name of the employee, his department, his ID number and number at the Ministry of Labor, date of contract, dates of starting and ending of borrowing, and copy of work contract. The ministry published on May 5 a draft decision in this regard on its electronic gate (www.ma3an.gov.sa) so that Saudis and foreigners can present their suggestions and proposals before its formal approval, Qattan said while noting that the decision is part of a series of measures being taken by the ministry to address the challenges in the labor market and provide incentives to the private sector with regard to implementation of Nitaqat program.
news
28-09-2016
Bangladeshi workers stage a sit-in protest
KUWAIT: Around 100 Bangladeshi workers hired by a Kuwaiti company to guard supermarkets and various stores in Kuwait staged a sit-in protest yesterday at the Bangladesh Embassy in Khaldiya. The workers demanded residency permits, which the company failed to provide since they joined 11 months ago. They also haven’t been paid for the past two months, with no housing too in this period. “We have been working for almost a year now with this company. They said they will provide us with visas and good accommodation, but nothing happened,” said 24-year-old Muhammad Jassem. “We want a transfer as soon as possible because we do not have any place to live. We have no money too, and are forced to work elsewhere. We are very afraid, as the police could check our residency status, and we can end up in jail,” he said. Abdul Latif Khan told Kuwait Times he told the workers to be patient as the embassy has been coordinating with their company to resolve their issues. Asked why they were not able to get iqamas, he said the company has a problem with the ministry, so they cannot process the visas. “But rest assured, we have been coordinating with the company and they promised us to resolve the problems of the workers in the next few days or weeks. Hopefully, they will comply,” he said. Khan said the company promised to pay the outstanding salaries and that work will resume in the coming days. “I appeal to the workers to cooperate with the company so that their legal documents and residencies will be given in due time. The workers came from Bangladesh directly, and we were not informed when they entered Kuwait. Only last month they came to seek assistance. We are continuing negotiations so that the problem will be resolved,” he told Kuwait Times. The recruitment company was contacted by Kuwait Times, but refused to comment.
news
27-09-2016
‘No harassment complaints against Saudi taxi drivers’
DAMMAM: The Transport Ministry has rejected accusations about cases of harassment allegedly made by Saudi drivers working in taxis, specializing in transporting women. The ministry stated that it has not received complaints of harassment from these women. Instead, it pointed the finger at limousine companies called “Taxi by rent,” stating that the owners of these companies have already committed many violations and clarified that it is difficult to retrieve the rights of their customers or even to redress complaints and harassment. General Manager of the Ministry’s Passenger Transport Administration, Mueidh Aal Saeed, recognized that the rights of female passengers using these limousine cars may have been compromised while being subjected to harassment by these drivers. He added, however, that some companies have service centers that receive these types of customer complaints. Co-founder and CEO of Kareem Company, Dr. Abdullah Elias, said that there are special characteristics provided by the company before the journey and during it. He said before the journey, they ask for documentation of every driver and the work team. Elias added that his company has offices all over the Kingdom to train drivers and to verify their cars and fingerprints before they start work. He added that there is cooperation with the security authorities about the data of car trips and drivers. He also noted that there is an electronic link with the Elm Company which gives immediate warnings if there is a notice listed in the Criminal Newspaper of any vehicle or car driver having been involved in violations of the law. Elias also revealed that during the journey, the client can verify the identity of the driver through a special phone number, photo and car features at the front of the car and at the back. “We don’t provide the phone number of the client to the driver in order protect the client. Furthermore, the friends of the client can follow up on the car journey through a special link," he said. He assured the public that the Kareem company is distinguished through the use of a unified number to receive client calls on a 24-hour basis, and to provide the necessary help even on Eid and other official holidays. Clients can also report complaints through e-mail. Lawyer Bayan Zahran confirmed that harassment cases are considered criminal offences and involve two criminal procedures: To report the case if it occurrs in the workplace (because the employee reported would have overstepped his professional duty and ethics obligations), and to pursue the application of legal penalties through the police. The case then goes to the Investigation and Prosecution Authority for further investigation and a court ruling.
news
26-09-2016
Many expats held for blackmailing Saudi female staff
JEDDAH — Several expats have been arrested for threatening and blackmailing Saudi female employees of a commercial establishment in Jeddah. Many staff members of the company run by three expatriates face harsh punishment for involvement in harassing, threatening, and violating the privacy and honor of a number of individuals. Two of the expats are facing charges under anti-cyber crime and human trafficking laws, while others are accused of coordinating illegal gatherings. Others are facing charges for threatening female Saudi employees and blackmailing them by threatening to publish their photographs on social media. The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) received complaints from a number of female Saudi employees working at the company. The complaints named the company director along with a number of supervisors. Based on the evidence submitted by the women, the suspects were arrested and brought to the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution. The director of the company was charged with harassment, extortion, threatening the women with dismissal, and the threat of increased work hours if they did not comply with his demands. One of the victims said that the director of the company tried several times to convince her to go out with him to an apartment to meet on a daily basis his friends, supervisors, and other women from outside the company. One of the women submitted several WhatsApp messages sent to her mobile from the company’s director containing threatening language, demanding that she go out with him or face increased working hours. The women also submitted several records and messages from supervisors working in the company arranging parties with alcohol. One of the victims said she had been blackmailed and harassed from the beginning of her employment in the company. She said she surrendered to the manager in light of her difficult economic conditions, who had sex with her and videotaped her with his mobile device. The investigation ended with the prosecutor asking for the harshest punishment.
news
26-09-2016
Dubai Police launches smart app to help human trafficking victims Victims can file complaints and get assistance and legal support
Dubai Police have launched a smart app, the first of its kind in the region, to combat human trafficking through helping victims and monitoring these crimes. Brigadier Dr Mohammed Al Murr, Director-General of the General Directorate of Human Rights at Dubai Police, said that the service will help human trafficking victims to report, using the smart app, so that police officials could reach out and provide them with assistance, including legal support. He added that the UAE has adopted a number of programmes, launched campaigns and initiatives, as well as enacted stringent laws to eradicate all forms and manifestations of these inhuman crimes.
news
24-09-2016
Migrant Workers in the Gulf Feel Pinch of Falling Oil Prices
DUBAI, Sep 21 2016 (IPS) - In the Al Quoz industrial area of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a number of medium and large-sized buses can be spotted transporting workers clad in company uniforms to distant worksites early in the morning. In the evening or, in certain cases, late at night, these workers are brought back to labour camps in the same buses. At the camps, the migrant workers barely have time to rest before the next workday. They huddle inside small, dingy quarters and the number of occupants may rise up to eight per room. With their belongings stuffed into every corner, they hardly have space to move and are vulnerable to catch infections from each other. Their day starts too early as they have to cook their food to carry to the site and ends late due to long journeys amid frequent traffic jams. “The role of the state becomes important here as migrant workers in the Gulf are voiceless. Without the right to associate and demand rights, they are as helpless as one can think of.” -- Khalid Mahmood of the Lahore-based Labour Education Foundation The workers at a typical camp hail from different countries, so the common practice is to allocate shared rooms according to their nationalities. At a typical labour camp there can be a Pakistani block, Indian block, Nepali block or Bangladeshi block. Javed Iqbal, 29, lives in one such labour camp. He has come to Dubai from Pakistan through a middleman who sold a work visa to his family for Rs 300,000 (about 3,000 dollars). The family borrowed money from relatives to complete this transaction. Having not attended school beyond grade 4, Javed cannot read and write and couldn’t find a job in his home country. The same lack of education and any proper skill set makes him ineligible for regular recruitment abroad as well. The only option he had was to come to Dubai on whatever salary he could get and gradually build his fortune there. But things did not work out well and he is stuck in a construction sector job that pays a paltry 240 dollars per month. He says it’s hard for him to cover his personal expenses, let alone send anything back home. Meanwhile, he is under immense pressure from his family to pay back the loan that bought his visa. A labour camp in Dubai. Workers are allocated sleeping quarters based on nationality, and the number of occupants may be to six to eight per room. Credit: S. Irfan Ahmed/IPS A labour camp in Dubai. Workers are allocated sleeping quarters based on nationality, and the number of occupants may be as high as eight per room. Credit: S. Irfan Ahmed/IPS Javed is not the only one in this situation. There are thousands of Pakistanis like him who are told fairytales about career growth prospects in UAE but once there, nightmares await them. These workers are mostly unskilled and employed in the construction sector, which is not performing well in the oil-rich countries of the Gulf region. With oil prices down in the global market, the government is facing difficulty clearing payments of construction companies. “I was inspired by the story of a village fellow who went to Dubai as a mason three decades ago. Now he owns two houses and several acres of land in the village,” Muhammad Iqbal, a migrant worker from Gujranwala district, told IPS. Everybody in the village wants to emulate him regardless of the situation that exists in the Gulf region, he adds. Related IPS Articles Towards Safe Migration and Decent Work for Women in Nepal Italy’s Second Economy: The Impact of Bangladeshi Migration Migrant Labour Fuels Tensions in Mauritius Dependence on remittances Pakistan relies heavily on remittances to build on its foreign reserves and they constitute around 6.9 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to a World Bank report. More than half of the remittances come from two countries – Saudi Arabia and Dubai. There are around 1.3 million Pakistani workers in the UAE and close to 4.3 million in Saudi Arabia. In the last fiscal year, the country received remittances worth 19.9 billion dollars, but in July they dropped by 20 per cent as compared to the figure of the same month last year. There are speculations that layoffs and non-payment of salaries to migrant workers in this region are the cause of this drop in volume. Some fear there is more to come as a large number of Pakistani workers could face job losses due to the slump in the construction sector where they are mostly empl
news
24-09-2016
Migrant Workers in the Gulf Feel Pinch of Falling Oil Prices
DUBAI, Sep 21 2016 (IPS) - In the Al Quoz industrial area of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a number of medium and large-sized buses can be spotted transporting workers clad in company uniforms to distant worksites early in the morning. In the evening or, in certain cases, late at night, these workers are brought back to labour camps in the same buses. At the camps, the migrant workers barely have time to rest before the next workday. They huddle inside small, dingy quarters and the number of occupants may rise up to eight per room. With their belongings stuffed into every corner, they hardly have space to move and are vulnerable to catch infections from each other. Their day starts too early as they have to cook their food to carry to the site and ends late due to long journeys amid frequent traffic jams. “The role of the state becomes important here as migrant workers in the Gulf are voiceless. Without the right to associate and demand rights, they are as helpless as one can think of.” -- Khalid Mahmood of the Lahore-based Labour Education Foundation The workers at a typical camp hail from different countries, so the common practice is to allocate shared rooms according to their nationalities. At a typical labour camp there can be a Pakistani block, Indian block, Nepali block or Bangladeshi block. Javed Iqbal, 29, lives in one such labour camp. He has come to Dubai from Pakistan through a middleman who sold a work visa to his family for Rs 300,000 (about 3,000 dollars). The family borrowed money from relatives to complete this transaction. Having not attended school beyond grade 4, Javed cannot read and write and couldn’t find a job in his home country. The same lack of education and any proper skill set makes him ineligible for regular recruitment abroad as well. The only option he had was to come to Dubai on whatever salary he could get and gradually build his fortune there. But things did not work out well and he is stuck in a construction sector job that pays a paltry 240 dollars per month. He says it’s hard for him to cover his personal expenses, let alone send anything back home. Meanwhile, he is under immense pressure from his family to pay back the loan that bought his visa. A labour camp in Dubai. Workers are allocated sleeping quarters based on nationality, and the number of occupants may be to six to eight per room. Credit: S. Irfan Ahmed/IPS A labour camp in Dubai. Workers are allocated sleeping quarters based on nationality, and the number of occupants may be as high as eight per room. Credit: S. Irfan Ahmed/IPS Javed is not the only one in this situation. There are thousands of Pakistanis like him who are told fairytales about career growth prospects in UAE but once there, nightmares await them. These workers are mostly unskilled and employed in the construction sector, which is not performing well in the oil-rich countries of the Gulf region. With oil prices down in the global market, the government is facing difficulty clearing payments of construction companies. “I was inspired by the story of a village fellow who went to Dubai as a mason three decades ago. Now he owns two houses and several acres of land in the village,” Muhammad Iqbal, a migrant worker from Gujranwala district, told IPS. Everybody in the village wants to emulate him regardless of the situation that exists in the Gulf region, he adds. Related IPS Articles Towards Safe Migration and Decent Work for Women in Nepal Italy’s Second Economy: The Impact of Bangladeshi Migration Migrant Labour Fuels Tensions in Mauritius Dependence on remittances Pakistan relies heavily on remittances to build on its foreign reserves and they constitute around 6.9 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to a World Bank report. More than half of the remittances come from two countries – Saudi Arabia and Dubai. There are around 1.3 million Pakistani workers in the UAE and close to 4.3 million in Saudi Arabia. In the last fiscal year, the country received remittances worth 19.9 billion dollars, but in July they dropped by 20 per cent as compared to the figure of the same month last year. There are speculations that layoffs and non-payment of salaries to migrant workers in this region are the cause of this drop in volume. Some fear there is more to come as a large number of Pakistani workers could face job losses due to the slump in the construction sector where they are mostly empl
news
24-09-2016
Kuwait ranks worst in GCC for expats: HSBC
KUWAIT: Only three weeks after the InterNations Foundation ranked Kuwait as the worst country for expats to live in, Kuwait was once more ranked the last in GCC and 35th worldwide in terms of the best country for expat life according to the Expat Explorer survey issued by HSBC bank. According to the 2016 survey, Kuwait fell back one notch from 34 to 35 amongst 45 world countries – starting with Singapore as number one and Brazil as number 45 in terms of the best destinations for expats. In addition, the study showed that Bahrain was the prime destination for expats in GCC states and came 9th worldwide followed by UAE which ranked second in GCC and 12th worldwide. The report also showed that Oman came 3rd in GCC and 18th worldwide; Qatar came 4th in GCC and 29th worldwide; Saudi Arabia came 5th in GCC and 31 worldwide while Kuwait came last in GCC and 35th worldwide. The study also included expats’ economic status, experiences and family lives. Bahrain came 17th in economics, 6th in experiences and 9th in family life followed by UAE which ranked fifth rank in economics, ninth in experiences and 22nd in family life. Oman came 14th in economics, 15th in experiences and 34th in family life. Qatar ranked 8th in economics, 40 in experiences and 36 in family life. Saudi Arabia came 11th in economics, 37th in experiences and 39th in family life. Finally, Kuwait came 22nd in economics, 43rd in experiences and 41 in family life.
news
23-09-2016
New labor strategies to go in line with National Transformation Plan
THE Ministry of Labor and Social Development has started this year the implementation of its plan to Saudize the telecommunication sector. The plan became effective earlier this year and the businesses were given a six-month period to fully implement the decision. The Saudization of this sector comes to fulfill four goals which include: Providing opportunities for job seekers at reasonable wages, developing a national manpower that goes in line with the National Transformation Plan, overcoming the cover-up businesses and unauthorized expatriates, and developing establishments that are equipped to welcome national manpower. Nine government bodies have collaborated to make this decision effective, they include: Ministry of Labor and Social Development, Ministry of Commerce and Investment, Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology, Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, General Organization for Social Services, Human Resources Development Fund, Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), Saudi Credit and Saving Bank and Riyada’a. The TVTC has provided free training for Saudi jobseekers in sales, customer service, basic mobile repairing and advanced mobile repairing. While the SCSB has providing funding to those willing to invest in the sector, HRDF provided financial aid to establishments employing Saudis while other government bodies collaborated with the ministry in strictly implementing the system in all Kingdom regions. The National System for Joint Training (NSJT) also provide training for the Saudi staff willing to work in the telecom establishments and it also support these establishments by paying 50% of the salaries of these Saudis for 24 months. The NSJT has provided training for over 40,000 many of whom are in Jeddah, Riyadh, Madinah, Qassim, Dammam and Makkah. According to ministry’s figures the second stage of Saudizing the telecommunication sector shows that some 95% of shops have adhered to the system compared to only 20% who adhered to the system in the first stage. The ministry conducted this month 1,975 inspection tours and documented 340 violations. The ministry has initiated a long-term strategy that aims at equipping Saudis to dominate the job market over the period of 25 years which started in 2010. The unemployment rate has dropped since the implementation of the shift strategy and in 2015 the number of unemployed Saudis was 647,000. The plan also included making the private sector an attractive hub for Saudi jobseekers, this led to the increase of Saudis in the private sector who exceeded 1.7 million by 2015. The year 2015 also marked an increase in the number of employed Saudi women who increased by 21% compared to 2014. Among the domains that women increased their presence in are: Construction, training, social services, downstream industry, insurance, real estate and business, transportation, agriculture and fishing, mining, electricity, water, and gas. Meanwhile the ministry has supported special needs people through its program “Tawafouq” and Nitaqat Plus. The ministry has provided training to people with special needs in Riyadh, Makkah and Madinah. The ministry also works on categorizing these people based on their disability and needs. An annual statistic report issued by the ministry shows that the number of cases that it received adds up to 6,524 which include 52,410 workers. While the total amount of fines that the ministry collected in 2015 is over SR25.8 million. The Ministry of Labor has started to implement a wage protection system based on seven stages to ensure that employees get their salaries on time. Over 7,000 establishments have been included in 2015 in the wage protection system with more to be included in the coming two stages. To make the Saudization effective no Saudis are included in Nitaqat if their monthly wages are bellow SR1,500 noted the report.
news
22-09-2016
Foreign laborers’ control over telecom sector produces underground economy
JEDDAH: Despite the Saudization decision strictly applied by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development which prevents foreigners from working in the telecom market, some illegally sell their goods outside shops offering customers their products before they enter telecom accessories shops run by Saudis. Some foreigners who have stores selling mobile and other accessories, sell their devices on the streets, according to local media reports. Media reports have also revealed that owners of some telecom shops in Jeddah are eluding the Saudization decision with foreign workers at these shops impersonating customers. Field trips conducted by local media have monitored the presence of foreign workers disguised as “customers” inside telecom shops. When a client enquires about a specific device, the “customers” deal with him and answer the inquiries, including the price of the device, in addition to all related details. The Saudi employee nominally remains in place as the salesman, just to conclude the deal and furnish the bill. Media also spotted the spread of street vendors who hold mobile phones in their hands, and when the agreement on the purchase is reached, purchase invoices are issued by one of the shops they are dealing with. On the other hand, some members of the Shoura Council have urged owners of the communications complexes to collaborate with competent bodies to help the Saudization decision become a success, and to make use of the qualified national cadres, and also give them support to work in this vital sector. They confirmed that this the sector, which generates huge profits, was controlled by expats for a long time until the issuance of the ministerial decision to Saudize the sale and maintenance of the mobile phones profession by 100 percent, and to restrict work in the field only for Saudis of both genders. Dr. Fahad Al-Anzi, a member of the Shoura Council said: “There is no doubt that the Saudization of the telecom sector is a national decision where its importance and dimensions are recognized by everyone who works in this sector. Owners of the facilities should trust our young men and young women by providing them the opportunity to promote the telecom market and ridding it of the so-called underground economy.” Al-Anzi explained that expats’ control over this vital sector formed the so-called underground economy, where the majority of transactions in the telecommunications market are carried out in cash, allowing them to reap huge amounts of money and transfer it illegally. He stressed that “the Saudization decision and empowering young Saudi men and women will restore balance to the market.” For her part, Dr. Thoraya Al-Areed, another Shoura Council member, pointed out that the “Saudization of the telecommunications sector will contribute to the creation of large employment opportunities for the national forces.” She also hailed efforts exerted by the ministry, including training and rehabilitation programs which ended in employment, in addition to the initiatives of providing funding to both males and females in the sector.
news
21-09-2016
Unpaid Alkhobar hospital staff strike
RIYADH: A large number of employees at Saad Specialist Hospital in Alkhobar has gone on strike because of non-payment of salaries for the past three months. Jamil, an employee, said the hospital administration has not paid their salaries for three months now, after stopping transportation and housing allowance since July 2015. A nurse said all staff members, including administrators, went on strike. She pointed out that cleaning and security employees, who have low salaries, did not join the strikers because they were properly paid. She said the hospital’s management has not given any indication as to when they can expect payment or why salaries have not yet been paid. She said the Labor and Social Development Ministry has so far been unable to resolve the issue, despite meeting with staff members several times. The strike began around three weeks ago, but gathered steam following the Eid holidays. The hospital employs more than 4,000 people, 19 percent Saudis. The 15-year-old medical facility was considered one of the top hospitals in the region, attracting doctors from all over the world. The hospital is a part of a conglomerate, which includes civil engineering, construction and real estate investment companies
news
21-09-2016
Low salaries, job security leading factors contributing to workplace stress: survey Call for flexi-hours, more time to complete job duties
While much of the stress we experience comes from our personal lives, sometimes, a person’s stress can be caused by, or made worse, by work. In its poll entitled, ‘Stress in the MENA Workplace’, Bayt.com, the Middle East’s job site, investigates the various factors that contribute to stress in workplaces across the MENA region. The poll has revealed that more than half of respondents in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region agree that workplaces today are more stressful than they were a few years back (52 per cent), and more than two thirds (69.1 per cent) agree that they feel more pressure at work this year in comparison to last year. The majority of respondents feel overwhelmed at work (83 per cent), with 26.2 per cent feeling overwhelmed ‘all of the time’, and 74.8 per cent claiming that jobs at their companies are more demanding than others. More than a third, or 35 per cent, claim to spend too much time at work, while a quarter say that they spend just the right amount of time. Just 2.9 per cent admit that they are spending too little time at work. According to MENA respondents, stress does not affect work performance the most. For them, stress affects their family relations the most, with 27.9 per cent of the respondents saying so. This is followed by their friendships (21 per cent), work performance (19.9 per cent) and health (16.4 per cent). The three main stress factors for MENA respondents are their financial situation (40 per cent), their work (19 per cent) and their personal issues (18 per cent). While almost a quarter of respondents, or 24.7 per cent, claim to experience an average amount of stress at work, 57.4 per cent of them find the workplace stressful; with 17.6 per cent admitting that their workplace is ‘extremely stressful’ and 19.7 per cent claiming to experience ‘a little stress at work’. Meanwhile, 18 per cent of the respondents claim that their workplace is not stressful at all. Low salaries contributing A low salary is the main stress factor at work for 28.2 per cent of MENA respondents. Other stress factors include a lack of job security (12.3 per cent), while 9.7 per cent say its the workplace environment and not having a work-life balance (9.1 per cent). In addition, 40 per cent of the respondents claim that technologies, like email, laptops and phones, intended to make their lives easier, are actually contributing to work stress; 42.1 per cent believe the opposite to be true. When it comes to avoiding work stress altogether, a quarter of the respondents or 25 per cent agree that engaging in regular team meetings and working for a company that offers flexible hours (23.9 per cent) will reduce the stress component. In fact, more than three quarters claim that they could do a much better job if given more time (77.4 per cent). Over two thirds of the respondents or 67.9 per cent admit that they can express their thoughts or complain about their workload, and the majority receive adequate acknowledgment and appreciation when their work is good (82.7 per cent). Moreover, 92.2 per cent have adequate control, or input, over their work duties, and almost three quarters or 73.6 per cent agree that the management is sufficiently sensitive to, and helpful, in resolving needs, conflicts, or other problems that are stressful for employees. To resolve their stress issues, 43.6 per cent of respondents exercise more frequently, while 39.7 per cent turn to socialising with friends after work. “Work-related stress can be caused by poor work organisation, poor work design, unsatisfactory working conditions, low salaries, and lack of support from colleagues and managers,” said Suhail Masri, Vice President of Employer Solutions at Bayt.com. Data for the Bayt.com ‘Stress in the MENA Workplace’ poll was collected online from June 26, 2016 to August 2, 2016. Results are based on a sample of 10,956 respondents. Countries that participated include the UAE, Bahrain, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.
news
19-09-2016
RTA launches Audit Permit to train employees on internal monitoring
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has launched a training program entitled ‘Audit Permit’ to educate employees about the importance of internal audit, and qualify them to exercise internal monitoring of their organizational units through familiarizing them with audit techniques in place. “The launch of this training program is part of a series of superb programs to hone the skills, competencies and knowledge of RTA’s employees and familiarize them with world’s best practices of the industry,” said Kawther Kazim, Executive Director of Human Resources & Development. “This program had been undertaken in conjunction with the Internal Audit Department as it involves awarding an Audit Permit, and reflects RTA’s strategy of ensuring job transparency besides enabling the practicing of the highest internal control. Such an approach serves RTA’s interest in nurturing a creative work environment, and cementing the bonds of loyalty and belonging between RTA and employees,” she added. “The theoretical aspect of the program covers an overview of internal audit, charter, guide, anti-fraud policy, internal monitoring, and training employees on various sections of internal audit. The practical aspect covers the participation of trainees in all stages of internal audit, co-training employee with auditors, undergoing practical tests, and reviewing risks related to the job scope. “The program will have a huge positive impact on growing the knowledge & skills of human resources in the field of internal audit, analytical thinking, communication skills, critical thinking, and report writing. The time chart of the Audit Permit included the graduation of the first batch of trainees last April. Another batch will be taken this September and a third one in April 2017. The last one in September 2017. Trainees will be awarded, and a study shall be commissioned afterwards to verify the benefits realized from the Program.
news
17-09-2016
Ministry of Labor starts secret cell phone shop inspections
CONSTANT VIGILANCE: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s direct and secret inspections on all facilities are constantly monitoring violations and imposing penalties on violators. (SPA) RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development confirmed it has directed secret inspections on mobile phone sale and maintenance facilities to monitor violations, and to impose punishments on violators. The ministry has also enhanced its community partnership through reporting violations of the labor market, including Saudization irregularities in the telecommunications sector, by calling its unified customer service number 19911, or through the website “Together to monitor.” The reports will be checked immediately in order to improve, develop and control the labor market environment. Ministry of Labor and Social Development spokesman Khalid Aba Al-Khail said that hiring foreigners in the field of sales and maintenance of mobile phones makes owners of these shops subject to statutory penalties. He confirmed, “The ministry’s direct and secret inspections on all facilities are constantly monitoring violations and imposing penalties on violators. The ministry has allocated inspectors to carry out inspection tours on the telecommunication shops across the Kingdom.” He pointed out that the ministry aims to regulate the sector and create job opportunities for Saudi males and females who wish to work in this activity. These professions provide appropriate financial returns and a stable job. Aba Al-Khail stressed that “The ongoing inspection campaigns are carried out by the Ministries of Interior, Labor and Social Development, Municipal and Rural Affairs, Trade and Investment, and Communications and Information Technology. These bodies began their missions within the second phase of the ministerial order that confines working in telecom sector to Saudis by 100 percent which started on the first day of Dhul-Hijjah.”
news
15-09-2016
Pact on minimum wage with a company for Omanis in Dhofar
Salalah: Ministry of Manpower, represented by the Directorate General of Manpower, Governorate of Dhofar signed, yesterday, the minutes of an agreement with the Health Food Company LLC, on increasing the minimum wage of national employees in Oman effective from September. The agreement ensures that the minimum wage shall not be less than OMR430 for the company’s existing employees and for any of the employees who join the service of the company and successfully completes the three–month probation period. The agreement was signed on behalf of the Ministry by Khalid bin Hamad Al Rawahi, Director General of the Directorate General of Manpower, in Dhofar Governorate, while on behalf of the company it was signed by Ahmed bin Hafeedh Mohiddin, Vice Chairman of the company’s Board.
news
10-09-2016
Kuwait urged to abolish ‘sponsorship system’
KUWAIT: UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro yesterday called on Kuwait to abolish the Kafala system (sponsorship system) but praised a number of measures taken by Kuwait to improve the situation of foreign workers especially domestic helpers. Giammarinaro said that some domestic workers have been forced into prostitution and that hundreds of them flee their employers every year for being forced to work for long hours, are mistreated and beaten. “In order to be successful in the struggle against trafficking, the government of Kuwait should also consider to deal with the general context of migration and labor regulations that produce social vulnerabilities,” she told a press conference at the conclusion of a five-day visit at the invitation of the Kuwaiti government. “This is the reason why the Kafala system should be abolished and replaced by a different regulation, allowing migrant workers to enjoy substantial freedom in the labor market,” Giammarinaro said. The UN official praised Kuwait for setting up two shelters for female domestic helpers who flee their employers and called for setting up a shelter for men. “This accomplishment is even more significant given that exploitation is of domestic workers is prevalent in the region,” she said. “I encourage the government and institutions of Kuwait to continue in this direction and redouble efforts to better prevent trafficking and protect its victims,” the UN official said. “It is necessary to address existing gaps especially regarding real alternatives to deportation when people are not willing to return,” she said. Giammarinaro urged Kuwaiti authorities to drop the absconding charges against foreign workers and ensure paying their unpaid wages as well as the possibility of changing the employer without restriction. She said that trafficking for sexual exploitation, particularly forced prostitution exists in Kuwait and the Gulf states and called for implementing the anti-trafficking in persons law in Kuwait to eradicate this phenomenon. The UN official called on authorities to fast-track the establishment of a government owned recruitment agency to prevent trafficking in domestic workers. Giammarinaro called for the establishment of a “victim fund” that will provide a comprehensive compensation scheme for victims of trafficking. She also urged allowing migrant workers to enjoy the freedom to set up associations to protect their rights.
news
09-09-2016
India seeks repatriation of all illegal residents: Singh – New Delhi beefs up measures at airports to curb human trafficking
KUWAIT: The India government has requested the Kuwaiti authorities to find a way to repatriate around 29,000 Indians currently staying in Kuwait without valid residency documents, stated Gen V K Singh, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs here on Wednesday. Addressing a press conference at the Indian Embassy along with Indian Ambassador Sunil Jain, the minister said, “Since these 29,000 people are having problems with their residency, we have requested the government of Kuwait to find out ways and means of sending these people back to India at the shortest possible time. We have also assured the Kuwait government that the India government is ready to assist them in all possible ways so that these illegal residents can go back to India as fast as possible,” he said. During his two-day stay in Kuwait, the minister held discussions with First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour Hind Al-Subaih and other high-level officials. The Minister of Social Affairs and Labor assured him that the ministry would look into all labor-related problems of Indians. On his part, Singh has suggested to the minister that both sides shall convene the joint working group at an earliest date. “I am also happy to meet and interact with a large number of Indians during my visit. My visit was also to take stock of the issues being faced by the community. It gives me confidence that all problems are solvable but it requires time to find ways and means and to increase our interaction both at the political and the official level in Kuwait,” he said. The minister visited Qatar and the UAE before arriving in Kuwait. Praising the Indian ambassador, Singh said, Jain is a proactive ambassador who is seriously engaged in solving the problems of the community. Answering a question regarding the Indian Community School, he said the India government has no direct role in the functioning of the school as it is not owned by the government. “I have learned that the school was setup by the community and I earnestly hope that the community will be able to solve the problems,” the minister pointed out. Immigration The India government has taken several steps to protect its citizens, the minister said in response to a query regarding the continuing human trafficking from India and the enduring malpractices and large-scale corruption in recruitments. The government has already stopped single woman, who is below 30 years of age, from going abroad in search of job. Similarly, recruitments are channeled through authorized government agencies in order to ensure guarantee for the contracts. “We are taking stringent action against illegal recruiting agents. But in India, the law and order is under the jurisdiction of each state. We have already instructed states to take appropriate action. The Protector-General of Emigrants will be visiting Kuwait soon to discuss and find solution to various immigration issues and plug loopholes in the recruitment system,” the minister added. The government is establishing suitable checks at the country’s various airports in order to stop human trafficking, the minister said. “Today, all Indian missions abroad are sharing immigration data so that they know how many people are travelling out of the country,” he said. Later, the minister addressed a gathering of Indian community representatives at the embassy auditorium and discussed a range issues pertaining to the community.
news
08-09-2016
Kuwait keen on protecting expats’ rights: Minister
KUWAIT: Kuwait pays great attention to protecting rights of expat workers and their employers in line with international terms, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Subaih said yesterday. Kuwait signed cooperation protocols with source countries of expat workers, and has established electronic link systems with them countries for a smoother sharing of information, said Subaih, who is also Minister of State for Planning and Development Affairs, in a statement after meeting with the UN ‘s Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons Maria Grazia yesterday. The two sides discussed several topics of mutual concern. Meanwhile, Subaih pointed to establishing the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) and the Kuwaiti center for sheltering foreign workers to resolve problems facing expats, and providing them with better living conditions. In the same context, PAM Acting Director General Abdullah Al- Motawtah also met with Grazia and an accompanying delegation, offering them thorough information on PAM’s projects on human rights and fighting human trafficking. —KUNA
news
07-09-2016
Should maids undergo psychiatric tests before taking UAE jobs? Proposal to subject domestic workers to psychological tests before coming to the country
A proposal is being mulled for potential housemaids to the UAE to bring good conduct certificates as well as medical reports declaring them free of any mental illnesses from their home countries before they can land a job here. Salem Al Nar Al Shehi, head of the Defense, the Interior and Foreign Affairs Committee in the Federal National Council, explained that a proposal would be submitted to the Federal National Council in the next session. A report in Arabic daily Emarat Al Youm said that Al Shehi will also call for extending the warranty period of the recruitment offices for up to one year instead of three months. Al-Shehi told the daily that there is a need to follow up on the psychological health of domestic workers particularly since the warranty submitted by labour supply offices ranges between three and four months only. He added that there have been instances where such agencies have ensured that domestic workers are obedient during the test period, but later fled from their employers. He noted that sponsors face significant financial losses for returning disobedient domestic workers after the warranty period. He explained that a sponsor typically incurs between Dh15,000 and Dh20,000 for hiring a domestic worker through an agency, but s/he stands to lose that amount if the worker is found unfit to work after the initial warranty period. He added that some domestic workers have caused severe problems due to lack of rehabilitation and lack of psychiatric examination, and that a database should be maintained of such workers. He pointed out that the database must not be confined to the UAE but should be used across the GCC countries. He noted that, at present, workers deported from the UAE, can enter some neighbouring countries and find jobs. Al Shehi said that his proposal came after several meetings with citizens and residents to explore their opinions about problems facing domestic workers. He pointed out that some people expressed a lack of confidence in the accuracy or validity of the information recorded in the passports of domestic workers, or any documents and certificates issued by their countries of origin.
news
06-09-2016
Renewed calls in Oman to link mid-day break to temperature
Muscat: Mid-day breaks for workers in open areas should be linked to temperature rather than over a set period of time, according to trade union leaders and workers. Get your essential daily briefing delivered direct to your email inbox with our e-newsletter Medics have reported treating 1,000 patients in three months who are suffering from heat related illnesses and conditions as many employers do not give sun protection products to their workers. “The implementation of a mid-day break should be linked to weather conditions. It should not be for a stipulated time. It should be made flexible,” Mohammed Al Khaldi, a trade union leader in the oil sector and an official at the General Federation of Oman Trade Union, said. According to a global meteorologist, September and October will be warmer than usual in Oman and residents will have to wait until November for a more pleasant climate. “September and October look like warmer-than-normal months. It will be more seasonal in November,” Jason Nicholls, a senior meteorologist and international forecasting manager at Accuweather, said. The mid-day break is announced every year in accordance with Article 16 of the Oman Labour Law for occupational safety and health regulations, which states that workers must not work at construction sites or in open and elevated areas from 12:30pm to 3:30pm during June, July and August. “This ministerial decision was put in place to protect workers from the scorching heat during the summer. It was implemented on humanitarian grounds,” said the trade union leader. “Following the rule for only three months without considering weather conditions, is not good,” the trade union leader said, adding that the law is something one can refer to, but in practical terms the hot weather can extend beyond the deadline for the ban on work ending. This year’s three month-long mid-day break, which began on June 1, came to an end on August 31, and some 254 companies were warned and four fined during the course of 2,332 inspections. According to Ministry of Manpower data shared with the Times of Oman, in June, 162 companies were issued warning letters and three more were fined. “In July, 70 warning letters were issued and one was fined. In August, 18 warnings were issued,” the official data revealed. According to Article 118 of the Oman Labour Law, violators can be penalised with fines ranging from OMR100 to OMR500, or a jail term of not more than one month, or both. The penalty is doubled for repeat violations. In 2015, 391 companies were warned by the ministry for violating the mid-day break rule for outdoor workers in Oman. An official from the ministry said the mid-day break is announced according to law and it is difficult to comment on whether it would be extended or not. Meanwhile, a medic in Muscat said he has treated at least 1,000 patients, who are suffering from heat-related ailments conditions during the last three months. “Out of the 70 patients, whom I treat daily, 10 to 15 are suffering from heat related ailments. So, during the last three months, I have treated more than 1,000 patients,” Shibu Mohammed, a dermatologist at Badr Al Samaa in Ruwi, told the Times of Oman. Heat-related ailments Medicines for heat-related ailments are not covered under insurance, which makes the workers reluctant to pay from their pocket and this eventually worsens their condition. “The majority of them come back to me, with worsened conditions, then I supply them sample packets, which medical representatives provide me. Companies should at least try to cover their treatment and medicines for heat-related ailments,” he added. Vijay George, a medic in Salalah, also said he had treated at least 1,000 workers with sunburns and other heat-related ailments between April and the end of June. “In Salalah, summer comes early. So, we have had patients coming to us since April, who are suffering from heat-related ailments. At least eight to 10 patients used to visit me daily up until the beginning of July,” George, a dermatologist at the Atlas Hospital in Salalah, said. Sunil Kumar, a project engineer at Najmat Al Fujairah Trading, said they take care of workers’ health and provide a break if the weather conditions are bad. “We give first preference to workers’ health. If the weather conditions are not favourable, then we change the timings. We give them a break and c
news
05-09-2016
Labor market changes behind fall in remittance
JEDDAH: Labor market changes, new nationalization policies, fears of taxes on remittances and slowdown in some sectors, particularly construction, are the reasons behind the fall in expat remittances from SR157 billion last year to SR90 billion this year, said experts. According to Fahad Al-Salmi, member of the board of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, serious nationalization efforts in sectors, such as telecom, have resulted in more employment of Saudis. “More attention needs to be given to the retail sector where more than 1.7 million jobs do not require special qualifications. Besides, the private sector should be convinced on the importance of supporting nationalization plans. Vision 2030 is aimed at providing at least four million jobs to nationals, which means the more jobs should be generated,” he told local media. Salim Bajajh, an economist, said that the recent news about the possibility of imposing fees on remittances will reinstate fears among some workers sending money home, particularly the cash earned from additional work. “This will move expats away from official channels in banks for such transfers.” Nationalization, such as that of the telecom sector, may reduce the incidence of commercial cover-up as well, which creates significant losses to the national economy of around SR200 billion annually, he said. Bajajh said the imposition of fees on transfer of sponsorship will encourage expatriate workers to spend their money locally and reduce commercial cover-up practices. Omar Abu Al-Khair, an investor in the construction sector, said the decline in remittances can be attributed to the declining projects, especially in the construction and contracting sector, as more than two million workers are employed in the sector. “Directing some of these investments inwardly will have a significant and positive impact on liquidity, especially if combined with establishment of new small businesses to employ young people,” he said.
news
03-09-2016
Iranian plot to sabotage Saudi-India ties foiled
A SWIFT and tactical move by India has put paid to the Iranian trickery of sowing distrust in the strong and time-tested relations between Riyadh and New Delhi. A recent Iranian and Hezbollah-backed Lebanese Al-Alam news channel report claimed that Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has allegedly played down the current visit of Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, to Japan and China as insignificant and meaningless. The report on the channel’s English website also claimed that the Indian foreign minister had said that India was not concerned with the visit and did not expect that it would achieve any strategic results. Vikas Swarup, spokesman of the Indian foreign ministry, was quick to rebut the report. The news channel cited a Swaraj interview with the mass-circulation Hindustan Times newspaper. “I wish to warn China against the dubious movements of Prince Muhammad which are backed by the United States,” Swaraj allegedly said according to the channel. According to the report channel, Swaraj said the Indian diplomacy was aware of the prince’s movements and had informed the Saudi embassy in New Delhi of this. The Indian Foreign Ministry was quick to foil the machinations of Hezbollah and the Iranian regime to fail the Saudi efforts, damage relations between India and the Kingdom and involve Pakistan, China and Japan in the ferocious media game Iran was trying to play. In a tweet on Thursday, the Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman categorically denied the report. “The statements attributed to the foreign minister are based on lies. They are totally incorrect and fabricated,” he wrote. He said the foreign minister did not give any interview to the Hindustan Times. On its part, the newspaper denied publishing any interview with the foreign minister. Saudi Ambassador to New Delhi, Saud Al-Satti told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and India are strategic and ever-progressing and that the two sides are determined to develop them further in all aspects. “The attempts of the enemies to seed dissension between India and Saudi Arabia are doomed to failure because their bilateral relations are strong and built on solid bases,” he said. “The Saudi-India ties are not an easy nut to crack,” the ambassador said. Meanwhile reliable sources said the Iranian lobby in South Asia was trying to fail the Saudi efforts to bring peace to the region. They said the lobby’s fabricated allegations against Prince Muhammad’s drive toward the east would never succeed.
news
31-08-2016
Oil price slip puts Oman construction sector on the skids
Muscat: Oman is facing a construction crisis, according to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of an Omani contractors association. Shahswar G Al Balushi, CEO of the Oman Society of Contractors, said difficult conditions will persist in the construction sector until oil prices — and therefore the economy — recover. “Due to the oil price dip, there are no new projects coming up in Oman. In addition to that, companies carrying out existing projects are facing big trouble with cash inflows, which will eventually lead to salary delays and other issues. “I can’t reveal any numbers, but it is sure that there is a crisis and its worsening when compared with the previous years,” Al Balushi stated. The oil price crisis is hurting cash inflows for construction companies leaving their workers stranded for months without salaries in Oman. A Muscat-based company had to send back 75 workers with one-way tickets without clearing pending salaries and other benefits. At the same company, 125 workers have been stranded without salaries for the last eight months. “Lack of projects due to the current economic conditions led by the oil price crisis, bills stuck with clients and banks, disputes over ownership and instances of fund misappropriations have put us neck deep in trouble,” the Human Resource Director of the company said, on condition of anonymity. “Meeting daily demands is a big problem,” he added. Staff and salaries, including that of the HR boss, have not been paid since January. When the crisis started, the company had repatriated 75 workers, who were ready to give up pending salaries and take an air ticket home. However, a few who have stayed back in the hope of receiving unpaid salaries are now worried about food and accommodation. The company had an annual turnover of OMR2 million last year. This year, only one project is running and that too will end in the coming months. “So far, with loans from here and there, we have been able to take care of food for workers. But water and power bills are pending. Soon, they may be disconnected,” the HR manager added. Article 51 of the Oman Labour Law states that employees, who receive their salaries on a monthly basis, should be paid once a month at least. Mohammed Farji, a trade union leader in Oman, also said he had come across a similar case last month in Sohar. “Around 150 expatriate workers were stranded without salaries for six continuous months. When the workers approached us, we met with the employer and found an amicable solution to get the workers their dues,” the trade union leader said, adding that workers denied salary and other rights should approach unions and the Ministry of Manpower. Meanwhile, workers at the Muscat-based company said they had stayed back hoping that the company will overcome the crisis and pay their salaries. “We have liabilities to be taken care of back at home. We cannot just give up eight months’ salary and leave the country empty handed. In addition to salary, aren’t we eligible for other benefits too? We are just asking for our basic rights,” the workers said. The workers had approached the Indian embassy in July and the Labour Dispute Department as directed by the embassy. “With the embassy letter, we approached the Labour Dispute Department, but the company officials did not turn up for the settlement hearing. “Eventually, the case will be forwarded to court. We don’t know how long we will have to wait for the salary,” a worker, who was employed as a foreman in the company, said. On June 1, the Ministry of Manpower had launched its complaint portal. In just 27 days, despite it only being accessible in Arabic, 512 people have used it. On August 23, the ministry said Omani and expat workers all across the country will be able to submit labour complaints against their employers online starting from September.
news
30-08-2016
No grace period for 2nd phase of telecom Saudization
DAMMAM — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development denied rumors that it will extend the grace period for implementing the second phase of the plan to replace all expat workers with Saudis in the telecom sector. A source said the Ministry of Labor and Social Development will commence its second phase of the Saudization of the telecommunication sector on Friday. “The second phase includes the Saudization of 100 percent of the telecommunication sector. The plan is to offer more jobs for Saudis in the field of mobile phone repair and sales,” said the source. The source also said the ministry also encouraged Saudi men and women to open their own businesses in the sector. “Twitter users have popularized the hashtag #saudizing_telecommunication_sector. Using the hashtag the users are demanding all obstacles facing Saudis from working in the sector to be removed. The sector was dominated by expatriates and there were seldom any Saudis working in mobile repair or mobile sales,” said the source. The source also said the hashtag encourages more Saudis to contribute to the ministry’s Saudization plan. The Human Resources Fund has launched a program to aid and support Saudis entering the telecommunication sector. “The program gives financial aid to help Saudis open their own businesses in mobile sales and repair. The program also offers consultations and material support to facilitate the process of starting a business in the sector,” said the source.
news
29-08-2016
Labor Ministry links Services with NIC
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has linked all client and user information to the National Information Center of the Ministry of Interior so as to enhance the type and quality of services, as well as overcome challenges and make it easy to verify information about clients and beneficiaries. This announcement came during the inauguration of the unified national portal “Nafath” on Thursday in Riyadh. The portal was launched under the auspices of Labor and Social Development Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani in the presence of Tarek Al-Shadi, director general of the National Information Center, and Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development Ahmed Al-Humaidan. This makes the Ministry of Labor and Social Development the first government agency to be linked to the national identity system of the National Information Center. Al-Haqabani stressed the importance of this step and of the cooperation with the National Information Center in providing the information needed to serve citizens and residents. “The partnership with the National Information Center has allowed us to overcome all challenges, to reach our true institutional work and potential and serve beneficiaries,” said the ministry. Through the link with the National Information Center, Al-Haqabani said the ministry was able to resolve a large number of issues related to inaccurate information about citizens and residents, including information related to residence permits and personal identification cards. The ministry is proud to be the first government agency to be linked to the Ministry of Interior, he said, praising the leadership’s role in establishing the center in an effort to link different government sectors and help the work flow smoothly. Al-Shadi said the center was established to serve citizens and residents, and with the help of its database, new and better services can be launched. Over the next few years, there will be a transformation in the type of services offered by the National Information Center to different government agencies, he said. Through “Nafath,” beneficiaries can log into the electronic service portal of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development using the same password and log-in information used for Absher, as well as by using their national identification number. The service focuses on issuing a unified number so as to allow beneficiaries — citizens and residents alike — to access government services using this number without having to register on several different portals.
news
27-08-2016
MoI receives first batch of e-passports
KUWAIT: A delegation of the Ministry of Interior, currently on a mission in Germany, received the first batch of electronic passports from the manufacturing company in the European nation on Thursday, a senior official of the ministry declared yesterday. Major General Sheikh Mazen Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah, Assistant Undersecretary for Citizenship and Residency Affairs at the Ministry of Interior (MoI), said the delivery would reach Kuwait early next week. Others would be dispatched in stages in the coming months. Maj Gen Sheikh Mazen is in Germany, at present, along with a number of senior ministry officers for this particular task.
news
26-08-2016
New system in place to solve expats’ issues faster
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development announced that it has put in place a new procedure to address expatriates’ complaints quickly. Minister of Labor and Social Development Mufrej Al-Haqbani said expatriates with complaints such as delays in salaries can now lodge their complaints and have their problems settled quickly. “The ministry will provide expatriates with legal representatives to present their cases in labor courts. The ministry will defend the rights of expatriates and laborers and will not allow private establishments to get away shirking their responsibilities,” said Al-Haqbani. The minister said the labor courts take unbiased decisions and hold private establishments accountable for violations of labor rights. “The labor courts are independent entities and are unbiased in taking decisions, irrespective of nationality. It treats all plaintiffs and defendants equally and issue fair rulings in all cases. The ministry also provides lawyers to follow up with cases such as delays in salaries. Expatriates are not obliged to pay any money for the lawyer,” said Al-Haqbani. He also said the ministry is looking into providing more rights for expatriates such as food and health care. “The ministry is also looking into facilitating the return of expatriates to their countries at the expense of the Kingdom. The ministry has also facilitated the transfer of expatriates between private establishments through its online portal,” said Al-Haqbani. He said the portal also tracks the visas of the expatriates and their expiration dates so the establishments would know when would the visa of an expatriate they wish to employ expire. “The portal is only available for establishments with the green band and above in the Nitaqat system. Establishments below the green band must work to reach the green band in order to get access to the portal,” said Al-Haqbani. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development is preparing, with the ministries of Interior, Commerce and Industry, Municipal and Rural Affairs and Telecommunication and Information Technology, for the third phase of Saudization of the telecommunication sector. “The third phase for 100 percent Saudization of the telecom sector with start Sept. 2. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development alongside the Human Resources Development Fund, the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, the General Organization for Social Insurance and the Saudi Credit and Savings Bank have trained a total of 40,000 Saudis in preparation for the first phase of the plan, which was to Saudize the sector by 50 percent,” said Khalid Abalkhail, the ministry’s official spokesman. He said the number of graduates so far is 22,516 Saudi men and women. “The ministry also provided online courses for Saudis living in areas where it is hard to find a training center. The number of graduates from these courses reached 16,502. At least 930 of the graduates were employed and 750 of them started their own businesses,” said Abalkhail.
news
25-08-2016
Fake domestic help office busted
UWAIT: Residency detectives arrested several expats running a bogus domestic help office in Jleeb Al-Shuyiukh. Tips were received about the office, and when the information was confirmed, detectives to arrest the suspects. Five Ethiopians, five Cameroonians, three Ghanaians and three Beninese were without IDs, while six were reported absconding by their sponsors. The arrestees confessed that they work on daily wages at homes, and engage in vice acts when they do not find work. Fugitive busted Interior Ministry Relations and Security Information Department said criminal detectives arrested a bedoon wanted to serve jail sentences totaling 13 years. Detectives located Zaidan Nuhayer and followed him for two days, then on Tuesday night, they went to arrest him. He attempted to escape through the roofs of neighboring homes, but he was arrested and sent to concerned authorities. Department relocated The Interior Ministry’s Relations and Security Information Department announced yesterday that the Mubarak Al-Kabeer residency affairs department will move to a new building in Subhan today. No injuries in fires Firefighters dealt with a fire in a Sulaibiya house yesterday, Kuwait Fire Service Directorate’s (KFSD) Public Relations and Information said. Sulaibikhat and Doha fire centers responded and found the fire was in the kitchen of the house. The fire was put out, and no injuries were reported. Meanwhile, fire broke out in a vehicle on Sixth Ring Road near Saad Al-Abdullah. Jahra occupational fire center responded and put out the fire. No injuries were reported.
news
24-08-2016
Over 1,250 violations of work ban under sun found
DAMMAM: As part of inspection campaigns to implement midday work bans, inspectors of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development have detected 1,253 violations amid the enforcement of the midday work ban, when outdoor workers were found working under the hot sun during the period from June 15 to Aug. 18. Fahad Al-Owaidi, deputy minister for inspection and development of work environment at the ministry, said: “During 1,526 tours, inspection teams tracked down 1,253 establishments which were reluctant to comply with the regulation implemented across various parts of the Kingdom.” Moreover, the Saudi Labor and Social Development Ministry recently issued a decision that prohibits allowing the employee to work under the direct sun from 12 noon to 3 p.m., during the period from June 15 to Sept. 15 every year.
news
23-08-2016
Workers from subcontinent dominate private sector jobs
BURAIDAH — Workers from three subcontinent countries mainly India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are dominating jobs in the private sector together representing about 55.8 percent of the sector’s entire workforce especially in the major cities such as Riyadh, Makkah Province and the Eastern region, Makkah daily reported on Monday quoting a latest statistical report by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. The report said the Saudis, with 1.8 million employees, represent about 16.7 percent of the private sector’s workforce. According to the report, out of 10.8 million expatriates, about nine million of them, representing 83.3 percent, are working in the Saudi lobar market. The Indians with 2.1 millions, representing 24 percent, top all other nationalities employed by the private sector followed by 1.94 million Pakistanis (21 percent) and 972,000 Bangladeshis (10.8 percent). Rashid Al-Fouzan, an economic analyst, believes that the low pay and the ability of these workers to work under difficult conditions, made them favorite of being employed by the private sector. “The subcontinent citizens can work in hard jobs demanding physical prowess such as construction and contracting,” he said. Fouzan also said the Asian workers take the jobs from which the Saudis usually shy away such as cleaning and maintenance. “Other reasons include the abundance of these workers who can easily satisfy the requirements of the Saudi labor market,” he added. Fouzan said these three nationalities are the largest among expatriates in most of the countries not the Kingdom alone. According to him, the absence of the African manpower is due to the restrictive recruitment rules in their own countries in addition to the fact that they mostly favor Europe and other countries in the West. Fouzan said the abundance of the Asian workers in the Kingdom is also due to the fact that their countries encourage them to migrate to make more money, their comparatively cheap price, their quick integration in the society and their ability to work under pressure. Khaled Al-Othaim, chairman of the contractors’ committee at the Qasim Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the employers are usually looking for less costly workers who are at the same time qualified and skillful. “The sector of contracting keeps the majority of these three nationalities,” he said. According to him, the noticeable absence of workers from China, Nepal and other Asian and African countries is due to the difficulty of recruitment and the lack of marketing offices.
news
22-08-2016
Visa-free travel: How many countries can you visit without a visa? Hike in the number of countries that allow UAE nationals to enter without a visa
Ninety-one countries allow UAE nationals to enter their territory without requiring a prior visa, Al Bayan newspaper reported. That number has received a boost after Sudan and Botswana recently decided to exempt UAE nationals of visa requirements to enter their borders. The report also said that 13 countries offer visa on arrival to UAE nationals through airports or ports of entry or online. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation confirmed that the number of Arab countries that UAE nationals can enter without a visa currently stands at 14 countries. These countries are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Sultanate of Oman, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Yemen, Comoros and Sudan. The number of African countries, that allow citizens without a visa has increased to six countries, including Botswana, Eritrea, Seychelles, Mauritius, Swaziland, and Senegal. In Asia, the number of countries that exempt UAE citizens from prior visa is 17, including Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Korea, Brunei, and Kyrgyzstan. Among the Asian states are six countries that grant visa-on-arrival facility to UAE citizens, and these countries are Indonesia, Bangladesh, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nepal, Maldives. In addition, both Sri Lanka and Tajikistan grant online visas to UAE citizens. On the other hand, 44 countries in Europe exempt UAE nationals from visa requirements, and these countries are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Malta, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Liechtenstein, White Russia, Cyprus, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Vatican, Andorra, San Marino, the Principality of Monaco, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Serbia, Georgia. In addition, UAE nationals can get online visas to Britain and Northern Ireland and Turkey. The number of states that exempt citizens of visas for their territories in North and South Americas and Pacific is 10, including 2 countries that offer the visa-on-arrival facility, which are Cook Islands and Niue Islands. Also, Australia grants its visa to the UAE citizens electronically and the other 7 countries allowing to the UAE citizens to enter their countries without a visa are Guatemala, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Fiji Islands, New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda.
news
20-08-2016
Ministry criticizes recruitment firm for displaying housemaids
DAMMAM — A recruitment company displayed housemaids in a shopping center as part of product display on Saturday. Ministry of Labor and Social Development spokesman Khalid Abalkhail said the ministry condemns such a disgraceful act and will investigate the incident. “The company displayed a number of housemaids next to its kiosk in a shopping center in the Eastern Province. The company was displaying the maids as part of a marketing strategy to attract customers. However, the visitors of the shopping center found the sight extremely degrading for the maids standing there as if they were objects,” said Abalkhail. He added the incident caused an outrage on social media for such an ill treatment of women in the shopping center. Lawyer Turki Al-Musa said the incident is definitely a form of human trafficking and not just a business violation. “The Saudi Human Trafficking Law states that mistreating or degrading a person, whoever they may be and whatever age or gender, they have to submit to the abuser. The mistreatment may include verbal and physical abuse, threatening, blackmailing, kidnapping or exploiting the person, abusing authority to control the person or bribing the person in any way in order to sexually assault the person, put him or her under forced labor, force the person to beg, enslave the person, remove an organ or run medical experiments on the person,” said Al-Musa. He added the penalty for human trafficking is imprisonment of up to 15 years or a fine worth SR1 million. Lawyer Saeed Al-Dakheel said displaying a human being as if he or she is an object is disgraceful to the human’s dignity and freedom. “Displaying the housemaids as if they were the object on sale to be rented out or sold out is a great mistreatment and it is against human dignity and human values,” said Al-Dakheel.
news
20-08-2016
Indian minister with workers in their camp
Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. (Rtd.) V. K. Singh addresses a group of Indian workers at the Saudi Oger labor camp in Shumaisi on the outskirts of Makkah on Wednesday. The minister returned to the Kingdom second time in the last 10 days to reassure the workers who have not been paid for the last eight months.
news
17-08-2016
Dubai residence visa for newborn: Grace period, fines, salary required Minimum salary to sponsor a child should be Dh3,000 basic along with allowances
If you are a resident in Dubai and have had your baby here, you should get a resident visa for the new born within 120 days of birth to avoid paying fines and hassles that may follow once you breach this grace period. The rules for getting such a visa for a newborn is same for all expat residents. However, the requirements may vary slightly if the sponsor parent works for the private sector, government or in one of the free zones in Dubai. Mandatory documents required According to General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai, if you work in the private sector in the city, here’s the list of documents that should be in place before you visit one of their branches. For the child, you will need to get an application form duly filled from a tying centre; 2 photos, the baby’s original passport along with his/her UAE birth certificate. The registration form of Emirates ID for the baby is also needed. The sponsor parent’s and the mother’s passport copy with resident visa page are required along with their Emirates ID. Your attested tenancy contract, latest Dewa bill, Labour contact of the company (if you are working in the private sector) is mandatory. Minimum salary of the sponsor To be an eligible parent to sponsor, your minimum salary should be Dh3,000-Dh4,000 basic, along with allowances. Grace period and fines The authorities in Dubai allow a period of 120 days to the parents to get the resident visa for the baby after the birth. Failing to get the visa stamped during this time-frame will lead to a daily fine of Dh25, which will have to be paid while applying for the visa. Once the application is accepted, it normally takes two to three days for the visa to be processed and stamped on the passport.
news
16-08-2016
Expats wake up to new visa fees
JEDDAH — The restructured visa fee for expats, pilgrims and tourists announced on Monday became a hot topic internationally and has sparked a lot of conversations among residents here. Many expats who spoke to Saudi Gazette applauded the visa fee revision that allows the first entry of Haj and Umrah pilgrims to be free. “I know Haj is supposed to be done once in lifetime. So the fee for second pilgrimage makes room for those who have not performed Haj,” said Saud Ibrahim, a travel manager in Jeddah. “We are working toward a strong economy and this move helps strengthen the country. We welcome the move especially when the country has given expats so much more be it subsidized gas or means for a better standard of living,” said Shaji N. Siddiqui, General Manager at Golden Travels in Jeddah. For large expat families who have children studying or living abroad the revision has thrown up challenges. “I have three kids studying in India. I used to pay SR200 for each, because they came once a year but now for their exit re-entry I have to pay an additional SR1,100. They come during their summer vacation and that is the only time I can even afford to bring them here. Now from SR600 I am going to have to pay SR 3,300 if they are to stay on my iqama (residence permit). If I can’t afford to keep up, I think I will have to give up their iqama,” said Syed AbdulRahman, a salesman in Jeddah. As for multiple trips, the exit re-entry fee will be SR 500 for three months. SR 200 will be charged for each additional month till the validity of residence permit. The change in structure also included a new SR300 transit fee for passengers traveling through Saudi Arabia. “For those of us coming from the US or Canada, we were saving money on routes using stop overs in Saudi Arabia, to go back home. But now my family of five will be paying SR1,500 just for transit. I think the ticket prices might go up,” said Jihan Ahsan, an overseas student living in Canada. Businessmen are worried about the additional cost the increase may incur for expat workers. “It will add cost per employee. I mean SR100 extra if they want to extend their stay. None of the employees here feel it much because the companies are responsible for their travel costs,” said Fahim Ansari, a Saudi businessman in Al-Khobar.
news
13-08-2016
Visa fees revised Traffic violation penalties made tougher
JEDDAH – The Council of Ministers, chaired by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, on Monday took a series of decisions to revise visa fees and penalties for traffic violations. The revised fees will come into force from Oct. 2 (Muharram 1). Exit and reentry visa fee for residents will be SR200 for a single trip for two months. SR100 will be charged for each additional month till the validity of residence permit (iqama). Exit and reentry visa fee for multiple trips will be SR500 for three months. SR200 will be charged for each additional month till the validity of residence permit. The first entry of Haj and Umrah pilgrims will be free, but for second entry they will be charged SR2,000. Foreigners visiting the Kingdom will be charged SR3,000 for a six-month multiple entry visa, SR5,000 for one-year multiple entry visa, and SR8,000 for two-year multiple entry visa. Transit visa fee has been fixed at SR300. Exit visa fee for anyone leaving the Kingdom through its seaports will be SR50. Traffic violation penalties made tougherThe Cabinet also approved amendment to Article 69 of the Traffic Law so as to make stunt driving a traffic violence for which violators will face the seizure of vehicle for 15 days and a fine of SR20,000 for first violation, the seizure of vehicle for 30 days and a fine of SR40,000 for second violation. In both cases, the violator will be referred to the court to examine carrying out jail term. For third violation, the vehicle will be seized and a fine of SR60,000 will be slapped, and the violator will be referred to the court. The seizure or confiscation of vehicle will not be applicable to rented or stolen vehicles. The Cabinet also approved amendment to the Article 70 by which anyone who seizes driving license or vehicle registration card (istimara) of another person or gives it on mortgage will face a fine of not less than SR1,000 and not more than SR2,000. The Cabinet also amended the Traffic Law by adding three paragraphs to the Article 68. Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, chairs the weekly session of the Cabinet at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on Monday. — SPAAny driver involved in an accident will have to stop the vehicle at the scene and take the initiative to inform the competent department and provide possible assistance to those injured in the accident. If he fails to do so, he will be fined a maximum of SR10,000 or imprisoned for a term not exceeding three months, or both. The Cabinet also approved increasing the tariff for billboard advertising.
news
12-08-2016
Over 500 companies offer option to work from home
MADINAH – The Ministry of Labor and Social Development revealed that 512 companies in 70 cities around the Kingdom are offering new businesses called freelance jobs, or entrepreneurships, that allow individuals to work remotely from home. The jobs are for those who have special skills that multiple companies need and are suitable for women, people with special needs and those who cannot travel to business headquarters. One Saudi designer, Abdullah Al-Husseini, said thanks to technology there is no need for personal interviews any more to convince the employer with one’s abilities and skills. “Once the applicant sends a cover letter to the employer with documents to support education and work experience, it is enough to convince the company to accept or reject the person,” Al-Husseini said. One Saudi who works from home, Anwar Al-Jilani, said: “Working from home means owning one’s freedom, but it does not come without risks. Workers in such fields must have suitable work environments at home so that if things got out of hand, the employer will become aware of the situation immediately because companies depend on these workers in fulfilling their projects.” IT expert Adel Al-Qahtani said there are numerous websites that keep track of qualified personnel and specialists and provide economic consultancy and analysis from home. These companies monitor the paid employee and share the salary payments with the company in charge. Social activist Fatima Habib said the Internet is filled with advertisements for various jobs, such as e-commerce, which has become popular online. Social researcher Amani Al-Olayan said working from home was not for everyone. “It requires three remarkable qualities — enthusiasm to finish the required work, respect for schedules and lack of lethargy that leads to accumulation of work,” she said. Recent reports from websites like Elance and Odesk revealed that in the United States up to 34 percent of those using the sites rely on self-employment online as a major source of income. The report added that Facebook had conducted several recent studies on plans the companies are currently working on to allow employees to work from home.
news
11-08-2016
Dhaka thanks king for lifting ban on workers.
RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has lifted the ban on the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers as of Wednesday. The ban was in force for the past six years except for the Bangla domestic helps. Delighted over the new development, Bangladesh Ambassador Golam Moshi told Arab News that this is good news for all prospective workers from his country. The envoy recalled that opening the recruitment channels from Bangladesh is subsequent to the meeting between Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in June. He said the new decision would pave the way for all categories of Bangladeshi workers which include skilled, unskilled, professionals such as doctors, nurses, teachers, farm and construction workers. “We are thankful to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for allowing us to resume recruitment,” Moshi said, adding that the Kingdom has always stood with Bangladesh in good times and bad. Currently, there are some 60,000 female domestics among the 1.3 million Bangladeshi workers in the Kingdom. “Visas for male domestics were issued only from June, and there is a sizable number coming into the Kingdom regularly,” he said, adding that 6,000 female workers on average are arriving in the Kingdom per month. “We have around 48 categories of workers serving in all parts of the Kingdom,” the official added. In January, Minister of Labor Mufrej Al-Haqabani and Bangladesh Minister for Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Nurul Islam decided to increase the number of Bangla housemaids. Both ministers agreed to enhance cooperation in the manpower sector by addressing issues to reduce migration cost, imparting training to Saudi-bound workers, and recruiting more male workers for mutual benefits.
news
11-08-2016
New fees cover all visas.
JEDDAH: The Foreign Ministry said that the new fees approved on Monday by the Cabinet would cover all visas, including work and visit visas, noting that it excludes what is within agreements concluded between the Kingdom and other countries. Tameem Al-Dosari, the deputy undersecretary for consular affairs at the Foreign Ministry, said that the fees are for all visas issued by the Kingdom abroad, such as work visas and visit visas, pointing out that the decision stated that the Kingdom will bear the fees for first-time Haj and Umrah pilgrimages. Al-Dosari added that the contents of bilateral agreements concluded between the Kingdom and other countries are excluded from the new visa regime, because this is in the national interest and every sovereign state has to consider its interests. Manpower expert Nawaf Dhubaib said that the decision to amend visa fees for foreigners, which will reduce the competition between foreign workers and Saudi workers in the labor market, besides raising Saudi earnings by increasing the costs of the foreigners, was not surprising. Dhubaib, a member of the Arabian Society for Human Resources, explained in a statement to a local publication on Tuesday, that this decision will create competition. He stressed that there are two types of categories of foreigners targeted in this decision: under training unskilled workers and managers and specialists. He stated that foreign employees have in their companies a party that will bear the costs of visas. “This will increase the load on employers, and will force them to let these workers go and replace them with Saudi workers.” He explained that some workers come to the Kingdom considering that it is a training place for a certain period, in order into go into the labor market. Dhubaib pointed out that the other category — managers and specialists — will not be affected badly by this decision. He demanded a strict monitoring of the additional revenue generation.
news
09-08-2016
Protect workers’ rights, King orders Teams formed to monitor companies
JEDDAH — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman issued a series of directives with the intention of resolving all cases of unpaid salaries and avoid repetition of such incidents in the Kingdom’s labor market in future, Minister of Labor and Social Development Mofrej Al-Haqbani announced on Monday. Accordingly, special teams have been constituted to closely monitor the firms to check whether they are fulfilling their contractual obligations and to intervene in case of violations, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Saudi Oger contracting company has been the subject of complaints by thousands of its workers for not paying salaries to them for the past nine months. Al-Haqbani said the recent labor issue is not a common phenomenon but a special case with a contracting company because of its violation of contractual obligations. The ministry will take penal action against the company in line with the Labor Law. The King’s directive obliges companies to pay salaries to their workers through the Wage Protection Program. Under the system, companies will not be paid for their work by the government until the Ministry of Labor and Social Development confirms that workers’ salaries have been paid on time. The minister emphasized that the Saudi Labor Law and its executive bylaw protects the rights of all workers in the private sector and the Labor Law is keen on having balanced relations between employers and employees with strict adherence to contractual obligations by both the parties in addition to protecting their wages through legislations. “Under the program, all companies have to transfer salaries to bank accounts of their workers and the ministry will strictly follow these transfers every month and take penal action against firms violating the law. The ministry allows workers, who did not receive salary for more than three months, to transfer their sponsorship to another employer without the permission of the current employer and can sue the employer at labor courts for their dues.” “Official inspection team from the ministry found that Saudi Oger Ltd. violated its contractual obligations with workers with regard to salary and accommodation. Serious lapses were found in serving food, providing health services to workers, and maintaining and cleaning accommodation. The King issued orders to end the suffering of the workers in a decisive and quick way after seeing that the company failed to address these issues. Accordingly, the ministry has taken the following measures. The workers are allowed to renew their iqamas (residency permits), and get final exit visa at the state’s expense, and the company will be liable to meet this cost in due course. The maintenance and cleaning of their accommodation have been done. The ministry also ensured continuous supply of food and drinking water to the workers and followed up on the efficiency of provision of this service. Free medical services have been made available at their camps. The ministry also entered into contracts with legal firms to offer free legal service to the workers. The ministry will guarantee rights of those workers who decided to leave on final exit. It entrusted Saudi Arabian Airlines to arrange free transportation for such workers and the payment will be levied from the company in due course. The ministry also coordinated with the concerned embassies in identifying those who want to transfer their sponsorship and those who want leave the Kingdom on final exit. Al-Haqbani also said that the ministry launched electronic service called “Mustasharik Al-Omali” to offer free consultancy service to both employers and employees on labor related problems. The ministry, in cooperation with the Saudi Telecom, introduced the scheme to distribute free SIM cards to new workers upon their arrival at airports to contact the ministry if required. The ministry also started contact center with services in eight languages so as to enable workers to lodge grievances.
news
08-08-2016
526 expats to be deported on terror charges
RIYADH — As many as 526 expatriates are to be deported after serving their prison terms on terror charges, Makkah Arabic daily quoted Justice Ministry spokesman Mansour Al-Ghifari as saying on Sunday. He said a total of 833 expatriates are currently under detention on terror charges. Deportation sentences have been issued by the Special Criminal Court in Riyadh. The spokesman said the expatriates were mainly involved in the activities of Al-Qaeda, were found to be spying for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, had links with Houthis and Muslim Brotherhood which the Kingdom considers as terrorist organizations. More than half of the expatriates detained on terror charges have been sentenced while the other half are still under investigation by the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution (BIP) prior to standing trial. The deportation is a usual sentence for expatriates after they serve their prison terms. “Foreigners who commit terror-related crimes will be deported even if the attorney general has not asked for it,” the spokesman said. He said the judges of the Criminal Court are well- versed in issues relating to terrorism and their verdicts are usually strong to ensure the safety and stability of the country.
news
05-08-2016
Recruitment sector split over rental of domestic workers.
JEDDAH: At a time when the Ministry of Labor and Social Development has issued its new regulations on renting domestic workers for recruitment offices and firms, those in the sector voiced contradictory statements in this regard. A number of them confirmed that they will return back to practice the business during the coming few weeks, while others said this is not possible because of the limited number of countries who have approved the practice, against the majority of them who refused the rental system. Mohammad Taleb, the owner of a recruiting office in Riyadh, said all recruiting offices are getting ready to resume their activities within two weeks after the completion of renewing their licenses and documents, adding: “But the problem is that we are allowed to recruit from only one country, Bangladesh. It would be better if we had more options.” According to Majed Al-Haqqas, spokesman for recruitment offices, the rental system did not work and has failed miserably. “The system involves the option to retrieve the maid from the client to the company or office. But when the maid is frequently moved from one house to the other, she complains and goes on strike and refuses to work,” he explained. He added that the work performance level of the workers from Bangladesh is very low and problematic compared to workers from the Philippines, Indonesia and Uganda, especially in the case of the latter where its workers have been highly successful. However, Uganda recently decided to stop exporting its labor as a result of decisions of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. Many countries refuse to send their nationals because they consider the rental system as a kind of human trafficking. Ali Al-Qurashi, a member in the Recruitment Committee at the Jeddah Chamber for Commerce and Industry demanded the provision of more countries for the recruitment process, adding: “We can no longer work in the market after the new regulations because the Philippines rejected this system, and the scarcity of labor from Bangladesh.” Meanwhile, spokesman of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development Khalid Aba Al-Khail confirmed the inspection campaigns are continuing on recruitment offices and firms to check on applications of the regulations and controls of the recruitment processes, noting that the Musaned electronic portal allows users to know the licensed recruitment offices and firms, and the nationalities and the professions available, in addition to the costs and the time needed for the arrival of the worker. He said the ministry will take strict actions and measures against violators, and will impose and implement penalties on the fake recruitment offices and firms that promote their activities on smart devices and social networking sites.
news
04-08-2016
No expat workers to be in mobile shops after Sept. 2
ABHA — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has asserted that it will never rescind its decision to fully Saudize the telecom sector by Sept. 2. “We have no intention of postponing the implementation of the decision or extending the grace period given to mobile shop owners,” Minister of Labor and Social Development Mofrej Al-Haqbani said in exclusive statements to Okaz/Saudi Gazette. The minister was commenting on demands made by a number of investors in the sector to extend the grace period by another six months. “There will not be any expatriates in the sector after the Sept. 2 deadline. All employees of the sector will be Saudi men and women,” he said, adding that there is not even a zero chance of rescinding the decision or delaying its implementation. Haqbani expressed confidence in the ability and competence of Saudi youth to operate the sector and avail themselves of the opportunity provided to them by the government. “I hereby confirm that the telecom sector will be fully nationalized and urge citizens and expatriates to report any violation,” he said. Meanwhile, some 1,692 mobile shops in various parts of the Kingdom were closed down for violation of Saudization regulations. The ministry’s inspection teams have made about 20,984 field visits to mobile shops in various regions to check their commitment to the Saudization decision. Some 816 mobile shops were given final warning of permanent closure if they did not correct their situation, said ministry’s undersecretary Fahd Bin Abdullah Al-Owaidi. In Al-Baha, as many as 91 shops have responded to the Saudization decision but 32 shops were closed down for violations. Meanwhile, the first women only mobile shop fully operated by Saudi women was opened in Al-Rimal neighborhood in the east of Riyadh on Sunday. The owner of the shop, Abdulrahman Alhimaid, said that he has allocated a specific section to women to carry out mobile phone maintenance work in privacy. A number of economists and training instructors have commended the ministry’s decision and said it would provide huge investment opportunities for young Saudis in this sector which has annual investments of more than SR5 billion. In cooperation with the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, the labor ministry has trained 27,983 Saudi males and females in the telecommunication sector. The trainees spent 25,300 hours in apprenticeship over three months.
news
03-08-2016
8.9m expats dominate private sector: Data
BURAIDAH — Expatriates are dominating the private sector labor market with 8.9 million expat workers against 1.8 million Saudis who represent only about 16.7 percent of the labor force in this sector. According to data released by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the workforce in the private sector is made up of 10.7 million of whom only 1.8 million are Saudis. The ministry said that Saudis have the upper hand in the public sector which is employing 3.4 million of them against 500,000 expatriates. The data, issued in March and made available on Monday, said that Saudis constitute about 35 percent of the entire workforce in both the public and private sector. It said the ratio of women workers in the private sector is also low as their representation is about 30 percent. According to the data, the GDP generated by the public sector represents about 17 percent against 83 percent for the private sector. It said the energy sector has topped all other sectors in the ratio of Saudization of jobs constituting 77.9 percent against 2.9 percent for agriculture which had the lowest ratio of job nationalization. Hail topped all regions in the number of women working in the private sector with 43 percent. Meanwhile, the ministry spotted 966 violations to its decision banning work under the sun during the period June 15 to July 27. The ministry’s undersecretary Fahd Al-Owaidi said a total of 829 establishments in all regions have violated the ban.
news
02-08-2016
Paid by Gregorian Calendar, Employees lost last 15 months salary after 40 years in job
JEDDAH: While most companies switched to the Gregorian calendar to pay employees’ salaries, some experts are calling for the return to the Hijri calendar. It will better serve the interests of employees who, they say, lose 15 days of salary a year, or 15 months over a 40-year professional life, due to the Gregorian calendar. Thus, they claim, that companies benefit from paying employees as per the Gregorian calendar when they pay them their end of service benefits. Hussein Al-Raqeeb, a financial analyst, said: “Employees should be compensated for the losses associated with salary payment based on the Gregorian calendar, and companies should count the retirement age based on the number of years of service as per the Hijri calendar.” He said: “Payment of salaries based on the Gregorian calendar also puts pressure on the employee during Ramadan if the days of the Gregorian month do not match with the month of Ramadan.” He explained: “Many employees are thus forced to rely on borrowing during this month, and companies save 11 days of salary payment per employee because the Gregorian year is 365 days, not 354 like the Hijri.” Al-Raqeeb said the government, despite deciding its budget based on the Gregorian calendar, issues salaries to employees based on the Hijri calendar. If a company has 2,000 employees, for example, with an average salary of SR5,000, it can save SR3.67 million per year. Companies also pay salaries on the 31st or the first day of the following month, so as not to lose days if an employee leaves before the end of the month, he said. However, according to economist Dr. Salem Bajaja, “the conversion to paying salaries based on the Gregorian calendar was very important, as it is more regular and in line with all international financial systems, especially in the banking sector”. With around 10 million foreigners working in the Kingdom, this more regulated payment system allows for better cash flows and compatibility with financial systems, despite the shortfalls of losing 11 days of wages annually, he said. Talaat Hafez, secretary of the committee of media and banking awareness, said the role of banks in the issuance of wages is to ensure compliance with agreements between banks and concerned parties regarding salary payments, regardless of the date. Government agencies have the date set on the 25th of each Hijri month, while in the private sector companies choose the date, not the banks.
news
01-08-2016
Government explains ban on new Taxi Licences
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Transport has found that the number of taxis operating in Riyadh and Jeddah are far in excess of their required number, and that this has contributed to the increasing density of traffic on the roads. Following this discovery, the ministry decided to stop granting new licenses and also adding new vehicles to the fleets of the already licensed taxi firms. Where did all these taxis come from? The ministry actually does not remember when and from where the increased number of taxis appeared. In fact, this discovery by the ministry on the increased numbers of taxis has nothing to do with the increasing traffic density on the roads. It came after the entry of a new taxi service equipped with the system to direct the vehicles, and although this newcomer has already been running on the roads for some time now, the ministry said they have not yet acquired the necessary permits. The ministry also announced that citizens are allowed to operate their private cars as taxis via smartphone applications without referring to whether their work will be legal or not, or the terms and conditions to practice the activity, and the responsibility of the ministry in this regard. The ministry said the regulation will limit the random roaming of taxis on the roads as it will lead to the restructuring of the sector.
news
30-07-2016
Unpaid for 7 months, workers hold protest.
JEDDAH: Hundreds of protesting Saudi Oger employees, demanding unpaid wages from the company for over seven months, were dispersed by police. The employees caused traffic disruptions in northern Jeddah and shut down a gas station. Col. Atti Al-Qurashi, Makkah region police spokesman, said the issue of unpaid wages concerns the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, whereas the duty of the police is to maintain public security and break up such large gatherings and demonstrations. Khaled Aba Al-Khail, ministry’s spokesman, said the problem is related to delayed salaries and a clarification will be given at a later date; however attempts to obtain a statement from the ministry’s branch in the region were unsuccessful, said a report. Ahmed Al-Ghamdi, media director at the ministry’s branch in the Makkah region, said in a previous statement that the services of the company were suspended for violating the Wage Protection Law and that several visits were made to the company to finalize procedures related to payment of all employees and to end travel procedures for those with terminated contracts. He confirmed standard fines and penalties were slapped on the company for such violations.
news
29-07-2016
5 million expats earn salaries below SR1,000
RIYADH — Nearly 5 million expatriates working in the Kingdom earn less than SR1,000 a month, according to official records. More than 2.5 million non-Saudi workers receive monthly salaries of SR500 or below while the salaries of 2.3 million of them are less than SR1,000, Al-Watan daily reported on Thursday quoting an official report by the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI). According to the report, 34,351Saudis are paid less than SR2,000 a month while the salaries of 1,28,428 of Saudis do not exceed SR3,000. It said some 250,000 Saudis and 230,000 expatriates receive salaries of SR10,000 and above.
news
28-07-2016
Fake employment deprives disabled of aid.
JEDDAH: Despite warnings and threats to punish employers who abuse people with disabilities, some still fail to comply. One such employer is a contracting company that uses ghost handicapped employees in an attempt to get benefits. The people whose names appear in the company’s registers are thus deprived of the government benefits they are entitled to. Among the 20 such people six have visual disabilities. They are also deprived of social insurance payments after the company used their names as employees for one month without their knowledge. They expressed incredulity at the deceit. Mohammad Tareq Al-Asheilan, 32, said he applied for annual aid a few years ago, and when he went to the social security department in June, he was asked for his bank account. Upon registering his account, the employee told him he was not qualified for aid because he had a job and was registered for social security. At the General Organization of Social Insurance (GOSI) he found his name registered as an employee of a contracting company. He filed a complaint with the labor office and the social security department, but they did not respond. He said the labor office did not offer any solution to his case, and told him to take legal action. He also complained of difficult living conditions since all financial aid was stopped. Mohammad Al-Shahri said he was surprised in June when he did not receive his social security aid because he was registered as an employee with a contracting company, to his total dismay. He said he was employed by a contracting company two years ago, so his name was probably used again by the firm. Hassan Al-Zubeidi had the same problem with the same contracting company. He wondered how the obtained his personal data. Mohammad Tawfiq, an activist for the visually impaired and a member of the board of directors of Ibsar Society, called on the appropriate bodies to punish the violating company. He said the company should compensate the people it deceitfully used by paying their wages for the period of their fake employment.
news
27-07-2016
New UAE decree: Employee wages fully paid within 10 days of due date If firms fail ministry will stop granting any additional work permits 16 days from date of delay
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has launched a new Decree to ensure employees’ wages are fully paid within a period not exceeding 10 days from the due date as registered in the WPS, wage protection system, the Decree will come into force in October, 2016. Saqr bin Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, said that companies employing over 100 workers must pay wages within a period not exceeding 10 days. If they fail, the ministry will stop granting them any additional work permits starting from the 16th day from the date of delay. "Two main things should be considered in this matter: firstly, salary delays occur usually if the company fails to pay wages a month from the due date, the second, which refers to completely refraining wages, starts after entering into the second month, however, the Decree shall refer to each case in a different matter," he said. The Decree states that if a company delays wages by one month from the due date, which means the company has entered into the refrainment phase, the ministry shall inform the judicial authorities and other related parties to take all necessary punitive measures against it, causing a complete strike against the other companies owned by the same employer, plus prohibiting the employer the ability of registering any new companies. Furthermore, if a company continues to refrain wages, the ministry shall take necessary measures to use the bank guarantee, in addition to downgrading the company into the third category and enable the workers to move to another company. "If the company fails to pay wages for 60 days from the due date, then administrative fines shall follow, not forgetting the punishments that had been already meted out for failing to pay wages a month from the due date," Ghobash added. Administrative fines hit Dh5,000 per worker’s delayed wage, up to a maximum of Dh50,000 dirhams in cases that include multiple workers complaining about delayed wages for over 60 days. On the positive side, the ministry will lift the ban from violating companies granting them the ability to apply for new work permits if they immediately pay delayed wages during the first delay month, while the ban will last for 60 days for companies that fail to pay wages for more than two months. The Decree reiterates that if a company frequently refrains salaries, the ban duration will double, after paying the wages. Additionally, if the ministry comes across any sort of salary delays or refrains by companies that employ less than one hundred workers, the current regulations shall apply, from work permit ban to fines, then public trial referral if the company fails to pay the money within 60 days. However, if the company records such violations more than once per year, then, in this case, the ministry shall apply the penalties as above for companies that employ over 100 workers. The decree clearly states that the Ministry shall not proceed with any transactions with companies that do not register for the wage protection system. In addition, it will stop dealing with the owners of these companies until they register in the system, thus ensuring that workers' rights have been met.
news
26-07-2016
No salaries, no valid Iqamas, workers stuck in Yanbu
Jeddah — A number of Asian workers in Yanbu have filed a case at the labor office for not being paid their salaries for more than a year. The sponsor has not even extend the Iqamas (residence permits) of many of these workers. The labor office told these workers that their case will be forwarded to the higher court. But it will take at least three weeks because of procedural issues, the workers were reportedly told. No salaries, no valid Iqamas, workers stuck in YanbuMushtaq, working as a janitor in the company for 18 years, said, “I have taken my children out of school back in Pakistan. I fear that they will not be able to join new academic year if I did not get my dues.” Mushtaq’s Iqama expired seven months ago and so has his medical insurance card. He said that the owner of the accommodation rented by the company for the workers has asked them several times to vacate it because of the non-payment of rent. Sagheer Khan, a supervisor in the company, said, “I do not have even a single riyal to go anywhere and find another job and sponsor. Many of us cannot move around because we do not have valid Iqamas.” The workers have also contacted their respective embassies and consulates. “We contacted our consulate and they promised all help,” said Farooq, a Pakistani worker. Shamsuddin, an Indian worker, said that his consulate also promised all help. Saudi Gazette has received the file indicating the names of the workers and the amounts of the delayed salaries along with official documents issued by the labor office. Documents indicate that the representative of the company did not show up at the labor office.
news
25-07-2016
60% of employees will turn down a job for this reason Research shows that workers crave flexibility and the well-being it brings them
Flexibility is a key value for workers who actually report that they would actually go as far as to turn down a job where flexibility was not offered at all, says research by Regus, the workplace provider. Almost half report they would have stayed longer in a previous job had flexible working been an option, highlighting what an important retention tool flexible working has become. Almost 40,000 business people globally were interviewed and they revealed that flexible working can bring about a startlingly wide array of benefits. Specifically, working closer to home helps workers feel more rested and lead healthier lifestyles perhaps as it reduces stressful commutes or allows them to cycle or walk to work. Perhaps more importantly, access to locations closer to work also mean that workers can spend more time with the families and friends. Flexible workers are seen as having more spare time by 78% of respondents as they can choose work location and workload; - Four fifths say flexible workers are better able to juggle personal and professional demands; - 69% say that flexible workers are more mindful and are better able to assess their levels of well-being; - 61% go as far as to say they would turn down a job where not flexibility was ruled out entirely. Kory Thompson, Country Manager UAE, Oman & Kuwait at Regus, said: "Flexibility, and specifically the ability to choose to work from a location closer to home are becoming ever more important to helping modern workers find a balance between their hectic work lives and their physical and emotional demands. Businesses wanting to attract and retain highly skilled and valuable workers cannot afford to ignore how important providing a good work:life balance has become. "What is surprising is the range and breadth of benefits that business people see derive from working closer to home: from being able to cycle in to work, to getting a lie-in, the benefits also translate in greater 'mindfulness' and better health as well as more time to spend with loved ones and on hobbies."
news
25-07-2016
Team to study ways to shelter domestic helps
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has formed a special team to develop a mechanism for shelter houses that serve domestic workers in particular. The formation of the team came to light amid a workshop that was conducted recently to set up the center for runaway domestic workers. Led by Adnan Al-Naeem, deputy minister for international labor affairs, the workshop gave emphasis to releasing its outcome that go hand in hand with the ministry’s direction in terms of enhancing services for aiding domestic workers. An array of officials explored the most pressing challenges faced by sheltering domestic helpers as well as laid out short-term and strategic solutions aimed at addressing the best utilization of financial resources and human capitals. Meanwhile, the workshop is the stepping stone for a series of other upcoming ones that would be orchestrated in cooperation with related entities including the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs.
news
23-07-2016
Kuwait e-visa service launched – Interior Minister launches visa system at Kuwait Airport
KUWAIT: Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah yesterday inaugurated the electronic-visa system at Kuwait International Airport; whereby applicants can obtain the entry visa online ahead of arrival in the country. Speaking upon the inauguration of the e-visa service at the air facility, Minister Sheikh Mohmmad advised staff and personnel to subject the new system to regular check-up and maintenance, cautioning that any glitch would impair the service, thus tarnishing Kuwait image abroad. Qualified national manpower should be assigned to run the system, he instructed. Minister Sheikh Mohammad, who oversaw successful test of the system, urged the concerned personnel to maintain such excellent performance round the clock. “Real operation of the system should be equally effective and I will not accept anything less than that,” he stressed. The system is part of a wide-scale strategy to upgrade to speed up the state services for all people, namely citizens and expatriates. Security personnel should perform effectively, security wise, and provide good treatment to departing and arriving people at the same time, he said. Ali Al-Muaili, in charge of the technological sector in the Ministry of Interior, addressed the minister and other attendees, saying that the e-visa system provides the visa to people abroad via the MoI website, www.moi.gov.kw, thus they will be spared the energy-time wasting at Kuwait airport. For his part, Major General Talal Maarefi, the Director General of Residency Affairs, said the applicant, via the new service will gets an immediate online reply, explaining that the instant visa is granted to citizens from 52 states, including expatriates in the GCC countries, who have a residency visa valid for no less than six months, also indicating that the special service is given to people of 13 professions. The minister, who was received by senior security officials at the airport, toured various sectors of the facilities and gave instructions to ensure that effective and speedy service is provided for the travelers.
news
22-07-2016
Ministry prods private sector to employ more disabled Saudis
RIYADH — Under the Nitaqat system for Saudization of jobs, hiring a disabled Saudi is considered equal to hiring four able-bodied Saudis. A source from the Ministry of Labor and Social Development said the ministry is encouraging private companies to hire more disabled employees by offering Nitaqat points. “The disabled employee must have a card issued by the ministry stating the type of disability. The jobs provided to the disabled employees must be suitable for them. The ministry has a strict anti-discrimination policy to ensure the rights of disabled employees,” he said. The source said the ministry runs inspection campaigns to ensure that companies have hired the minimum number of disabled people required. “The inspectors will also ensure that the disabled employees do not face any work-related discrimination such as lower salaries and denial of promotions due to their disability,” he said. The source said disabled employees have the right to be trained and participate in self-development programs offered to other employees in any organization or company. “To prove their disability, the disabled candidates must produce a medical report issued by the Ministry of Health or a public hospital or a card by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development documenting that he or she is indeed disabled,” said the source. He said the disabilities include both physical and mental impediments, such as visual, hearing, mobility, learning and speech difficulties. “Employees with disability have the right to demand necessary arrangements for them at the workplace. The employer is not allowed to relieve an employee who acquired new disability,” said the source. The source also said the Saudi Code for Architecture requires all public buildings in the country to be disabled-friendly. “The latest statistics by the General Organization for Social Insurance reveal that there are 65,580 disabled employees working in 31,790 private sector firms registered with the organization,” said the source.
news
21-07-2016
INSURANCE COVER FOR DOMESTIC WORKERS
DAMMAM: Authorities are looking into ways to provide insurance cover for thousands of domestic workers in the Kingdom. Adel Al-Issa, spokesman for the General Committee of Insurance Companies said preparations are under way for meetings between the Ministry of Labor and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) to discuss the relevant directives and prepare a study related to the insurance of domestic workers against hazards, as well as provide medical insurance. Al-Issa said that the committee will benefit from the experience of other countries regarding the risks that can be faced by domestic workers, pointing out that hazards that can be covered by insurance will be listed after considering the statistics on the total number of domestic workers in Saudi Arabia. He said that the price list of insurances for domestic laborers will be determined after studying every aspect of the problem, adding that the difficulty lies in the process of gathering information and data. Abdulaziz Abu Saud, an insurance specialist, stressed that insurance could also cover problems like domestic workers running away and deportations, in case there was no agreement between the parties during the three-month trial period, inadequate job performance by the domestic worker, physical violence on the part of the employer, and getting permanent disabilities because of work. Abu Saud said that this step will help domestic workers know where they stand and that they are covered by insurance in certain cases, stressing that this will also reduce the big financial burden assumed by the citizens when they need to deport domestic workers because of the lack of agreement during the trial period. He pointed out that insuring domestic workers will contribute to the protection of offices and recruitment companies that bring in domestic workers and will limit the number of middlemen involved in recruiting domestic workers
news
19-07-2016
No visa without health insurance
RIYADH — Employers who do not provide health insurance to employees and their dependents may be banned from recruitment permanently, Al-Madinah Arabic daily reported on Monday. The Council of Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI) has formed an inspection committee with the Ministry of Labor and Social Development to ensure that all employers in the Kingdom provide health insurance to their employees and their families, said CCHI spokesman Yasser Al-Maarik. “The law applies to all employees whether Saudis or expats. There are penalties for breaching the law. Employers may face fines up to the cost of insurance and may be banned from recruitment rights permanently or temporarily,” said Al-Maarik. He said that inspection teams will regularly inspect employers to ensure that they adhere to labor laws and the CCHI rules and regulations. “We constantly try to improve our services to provide the best for our clients. Clients can benefit from our service by using their national IDs or residence permits without the need for any other card once they register,” said Al-Maarik. He also said the council is working on improving its system to track violations. “We are working on digitizing the whole process of recording violations so we have a permanent record of violators and their penalties. Employers with violations will not be allowed to recruit any new employees or provide health insurance to new employees until they pay off their dues for the violations they committed,” said Al-Maarik. “We are working on raising awareness about the importance of health insurance and the rights and responsibilities of both the employers and the employees when it comes to health insurance. We are trying to reach out to the general public through various media,” said Al-Maarik. The first phase of the one-contract health insurance policy for private sector employees and their dependents began earlier this month. The objective of the one-contract policy is to protect the rights of the insured and improve the services of health insurance in the Kingdom. Private sector employers will have to sign one health insurance contract, which should include employees and their dependents. The decision will be implemented in four phases depending on the number of employees. Each phase is three months long.
news
18-07-2016
Work ban under hot sun: 258 violations recorded
RIYADH – The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has recorded 258 violations of its ban on making workers toil under the hot sun. These violations were detected during the period from June 15 and July 12, Khaled Aba Al-Khail, spokesman of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, was quoted by Saudi Press Agency (SPA) as saying on Saturday. Al-Khail further said that 241 companies were involved in these violations in all regions of the Kingdom. He added that the ministry was committed to implementing the decision banning forcing workers to work under the hot sun throughout the period announced earlier. The objective is to protect the private sector workers’ health and safety. The ministry also aims to direct companies to provide a healthy and safe work environment in line with the occupational health and safety requirements. This is also in the interest of work in order to prevent the workers from any health risks. The spokesman said the ministry’s decision in this connection was issued on May 14, 2014. It states that it is not allowed to make an employee work in open areas under the hot sun from 12 noon to 3 p.m. during the period from June 15 until Sept, 15 every Gregorian year. Oil and the gas workers and those in the maintenance sector have been exempted from this restriction, but ample measures have been taken to protect them as well. The decision also exempts some governorates in some regions of the Kingdom where temperatures are low.
news
18-07-2016
‘Portal glitches causing delay in recruitment of housemaids’
DAMMAM — Recruitment offices blame technical glitches in the Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s Musaned portal for inordinate delay in the recruitment of housemaids from Bangladesh. “Musaned has been facing several technical glitches. However, all of the glitches are fixed within hours of the problem being reported. The ministry is currently upgrading its e-services by contracting with companies that will improve the quality of its services nationally and internationally,” said the ministry’s spokesman Khalid Aba Al-Khail. A source from a recruitment office said the technical glitches of Musaned portal is a true obstacle that has delayed many applications. “We were able to process far less applications than anticipated due to these glitches. These glitches happen frequently and on a regular basis. The system faces errors every week or two weeks. These glitches are not occasional and rare. They are quite frequent and have caused a great delay,” said the source. The source also said the system is now unable to bear the pressure of recruitment requests being processed. “The ministry does not have a competent technical team. Moreover, each nationality is facing different challenges with the recruitment offices. In many instances, recruitment offices accept changes in the regulations such as an increased recruitment charge in order to meet market demands,” said the source. The source added the system does not reflect these changes causing many transactions to happen undocumented.
news
16-07-2016
Employers told not to keep expats passports
RIYADH: An employer does not have the right to retain the passport of his expat employee without the employee’s consent, Khalid Aba Al-Khail, spokesman for the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, said. However, if the expat worker wishes the employer to keep his passport, he has to sign a written statement in both Arabic and his native language stating that the employer has received his passport and the date of receipt, he said. He called on employers not to keep the passports of their employees unless they agree on that to avoid any penalty stipulated by the executive by-laws of the labor law. The penalty includes imposition of a fine of SR2,000 for each case, but can carry multiple fines in case he retains the passports of additional workers. He said the ministry seeks to regulate the contractual relations between the two parties and fix the rights and duties of both sides, which aims to streamline the Saudi labor market and create a suitable work environment for all parties to ensure increased productivity and promotion of the national economy, he said. He stressed there will be no tolerance for whoever violates the labor system. In this context, he called on the parties concerned to read the executive by-laws of the labor law on the Ministry’s website at www.mosa.gov.sa.
news
15-07-2016
MoF will withhold July salaries of employees with incomplete Emirates ID details Urges federal entities to ensure completion of uploading Emirates ID number
Pursuant to Circular No. 03 for 2016, issued on 3rd April, 2016, regarding the uploading of employee Emirates ID numbers in the Federal Financial System, an essential reference for all financial transactions and procedures at the national level, the Ministry of Finance, MoF, has announced that it will begin implementation of the circular, and will withhold July salaries of employees with incomplete or inaccurate national ID details. The Ministry of Finance urged ministries and federal entities to ensure the completion of uploading the Emirates ID number, from the issuance date of the circular. The Emirate ID number is an essential reference to speed up all government transactions for all federal government employees. Mariam Mohammed Al Amiri, Assistant Under-Secretary for the Management of Financial Resources, stressed the need for all ministries and federal entities to ensure the completion of uploading the required data in the system. Having the correct data for all government employees in ministries and federal entities will facilitate transactions, and follow up on their requests in a fast and accurate manner. Al Amiri also highlighted the link between the Emirate ID number and a number of significant federal government projects. The Ministry had previously announced that all ministries and federal entities linked to the federal financial system must enter or correct the Emirates ID numbers for all of their employees, and those that adopt their own financial systems must complete the national ID details.
news
14-07-2016
Abuse of maids in Oman verges on slavery: HRW
DUBAI: A leading international rights group yesterday said that foreigners employed as maids in Oman can face physical and verbal abuse while working entrapped in conditions that near slavery. A new Human Rights Watch report blames in part Oman’s system of tying workers’ visas to their employers, as well as police failing to enforce laws and returning runaway maids to abusive homes. The report alleges Oman’s neighbor, the United Arab Emirates, acts as a gateway for maids to be trafficked into the sultanate, as Emirati employment agencies along the border put women on display “like window shopping”. “Many find themselves trapped with abusive employers and forced to work in exploitative conditions, their plight hidden behind closed doors,” the HRW report said. “It is clear that abuses are widespread and that they are generally carried out with impunity.” Oman’s government-sponsored Human Rights Commission and the Omani Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment from AP. Many from Asia and Africa come to Gulf Arab countries to work as maids, often as the sole provider for their families back home. While some find success, others can face abuse or find themselves working in conditions far different than those promised by recruiters, trapped without their passports. Oman, a country of 4.4 million people on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, is home to nearly 2 million foreigners, according to the government’s National Center for Statistics and Information. In the report, Human Rights Watch said its investigators interviewed 59 female migrant workers with some recounting being beaten, verbally abused, denied fair pay and working as much as 20-hour days. The report said employers routinely seized maids’ passports in violation of Omani laws and those that fled abusive situations often had police return them to their abusers under laws that consider the workers “absconders”. “Situations like those described below are at the very least dangerously close to situations of slavery,” the report said. The report called on Oman to overhaul its “kafala” employee sponsorship system. The system, versions of which are used throughout the oil-rich Gulf states, gives bosses considerable power over workers by effectively binding them to a given employer. It also urged Omani police not to return those who flee violence to abusive homes. The New York-based group also implicated the UAE for allowing maids to sneak into Oman despite restrictions from some of their home countries and other visa restrictions. It described a series of employment offices in the Emirati border city of Al Ain serving as a point for Omanis to find domestic workers. Several of the women who spoke to Human Rights Watch described the situation as them being “bought” by Omanis. Emirati officials did not respond to a request for comment from the AP. A Bangladeshi maid said she left home to work for an employer in the UAE before a new employer paid cash for her to be transferred to Oman. “I was sold,” HRW quoted Asma K as saying. Oman’s female domestic servants come mainly from Indonesia, Ethiopia, South Asia and the Philippines. – Agencies
news
13-07-2016
Know The Law: You exempt from UAE Labour Law provisions? Provisions don’t apply to categories including free zone workers, government staff and housemaids
The UAE Labour Law is designed to protect the interest of the employees and the employers and to ensure that fair work practices are applicable and enforced in all the companies operating out of the country. According to Article 3 of the Law, it applies to all employees working in the UAE, whether UAE nationals or expatriates. However, there are certain categories of employees who are exempt from the law and many have to follow another set of regulations. As amended by Federal Law no 24 dated 7/11/1981, and Federal Law no 12 dated 29/10/1986, the provisions listed in the law do not apply to certain categories. These include: 1) Employees and workers of the federal government and the governmental departments in the Emirates, members of the State, the employees and workers in public entities and institutions, whether federal or local, and employees and workers appointed for governmental, federal and local projects. 2) Members of the armed forces, police and security. 3) Domestic servants in private households and similar occupations. 4) Workers in farms or pastures with the exception of persons working in agricultural institutions processing the products or employees permanently operating or repairing mechanical machines required for agriculture. Besides these categories of employees, those working in free zones are generally not governed by the UAE Labour Law. Each free zone has its own employment law. Employees working in places such as Jebel Ali Free Zone and the Dubai Airport Free Zone are subject to the rules and regulations of the free zone concerned and maintain their own employment contracts. Having said that, the provisions set out in the employment contract of the free zone must be in accordance with what is stated the Labour Law. Moreover, it should be noted that free zone employees are sponsored by the relevant free zones and not by their employers.
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12-07-2016
Ministry to appoint Saudi labor attachés abroad
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development is planning to appoint labor attachés in countries from where the Kingdom hires expat workers. “The ministry thinks that labor attachés can restrict recruitment brokers and regulate the recruitment business. The ministry hopes to clean the recruitment market off brokers and offer a fully organized recruitment market,” said a source. He said the Musaned program for domestic workers will provide recruitment request for individuals, salary model, exit and entry form and residence permit issuance form. Doing things through a clear process online will also eliminate brokers. Economic Affairs expert Fadhl Al-Buainain praised the move by the ministry to appoint attachés in countries from where expatriates are recruited. “Having attachés in labor exporting countries will help overcome many obstacles such as diplomatic negotiations,” said Al-Buainain. He said the Ministry of Labor and Social Development must work closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to operate the attachés. An attaché is a person who is “attached” to the diplomatic or administrative staff. An attaché is normally an official, under the authority of an ambassador or other head of a diplomatic mission, who serves either as a diplomat or as a member of the support staff. The ministry has introduced a number of labor reforms to regulate the market. An employer who keeps the passports of his employees will be fined SR2,000 and the one who does not provide a copy of the contract to workers will be fined SR5,000, according to the regulations announced last year by the ministry. A fine of up to SR15,000 will be imposed on an employer who forces his workers to do jobs not specified in the contract or if he asks workers to bear those expenses which the emplpyer is liable to pay. Fines will also be imposed on companies if they delay the payment of salaries, force employees to work extra hours without overtime payment, or force them to work during official weekends and holidays. Selling visas to expatriates results in a fine of SR50,000. Employing an expatriate without a license results in a fine of SR45,000.
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09-07-2016
1 million new retail sector jobs by 2020
JEDDAH: The Saudi retail sector has taken concrete steps to achieve one of the goals of Vision 2030, which is creating 1 million new jobs by 2020 and offering the youth more opportunities to work in commercial shops, vegetable markets, telecommunication shops, and several other areas in the coming months. Member of the Board of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and member of the advisory committee for the development of society and education Fahad bin Saiban Al-Sulami said the sector will be crucial to achieving Vision 2030 and retailers will play a central role in its implementation. He said the sector, which enjoys more than SR370 billion in investments annually and a 70 percent expatriate employment rate, will be one of the strategic targets of the nationalization program and will greatly help limit unemployment throughout the Kingdom. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s upcoming 5-year plan will see more than 1.3 million Saudi nationals enter the labor market as a result of the plan to nationalize the retail, telecommunication, taxi, travel and tourism, real estate, gold and jewelry, and vegetable market sectors, he added. The retail sector, said Al-Sulami, will help bring unemployment down from 11.6 percent to 7 percent, as stipulated in the vision, while the labor market will see more female participation and an over 10 percent growth. Al-Sulami stressed the need to face the major challenges facing the sector, including tassatur (cover up) practices, the high cost of available commercial spaces, labor shortages in the services sector, limited investment in training national cadres, as well as inadequate infrastructure to serve the sector. “Many SMEs turn to expatriate labor because they are seemingly more affordable, a situation that has increased the percentage of expatriates in the sector to more than two-thirds and created significant economic pressure,” said Al-Sulami.
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08-07-2016
Workers complain about long working hours in private sector
MAKKAH — A group of persons working for different businesses in the private sector have complained about the long working hours in Ramadan. They said they work longer than the official eight hours set by the Labor Law and rarely are they allowed to take any rest. They are paid low salaries as employers take advantage of them, Makkah daily reported. Hamdi Younis, director of Ministry of Labor and Social Development Makkah branch, said the Ministry of Labor inspectors constantly warn employers against forcing workers to do more than the daily hours set by the law, urging workers to report violations at 19911. “Once we have received a violation report, we will dispatch a team of inspectors to the location to check and verify. Unfortunately, some employers, especially those who own businesses at malls, tend to make shopkeepers work longer hours around the time when Eid Al Fitr Holidays approaches,” he noted. Sultan Al-Harthy, a legal consultant, explains that the Shariah protects the rights of workers and so does the Labor Law in the Kingdom. The employment contracts stipulates that a worker should perform his duties for certain hours and be paid a certain salary. It is inhumane to abuse the contract and make the employee work longer hours for your own benefit. He cited Article 61 of the Labor Law which states that no employer shall make an employee work longer hours than the ones mentioned in the contract and no employer shall have the right to withhold and not pay the salary of the employee. His advice to employees who are going through this situation is to go to the labor office and file a complaint immediately. The Labor Law states that the daily working hours is eight except in Ramadan they are reduced to six. If a worker stays longer hours, he should be compensated and paid overtime fees in proportion to his salary. Moreover, workers should be given short rests and one day off every week, according to the law.
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08-07-2016
GAFS: 5.8m Saudi women do not participate in labor force
DAMMAM — Over 5.8 million Saudi women are not participating in the labor force, despite the fact that most of them are over 15 years old, according to the General Authority for Statistics’ report for the second half of 2015, Al-Watan daily reported. The report indicated that the number of Saudi women participating in the workforce in 2015 was 1.2 million compared to 4.4 million Saudi men. The gap is huge and should be reduced in order to achieve economic equilibrium and solve the unemployment problem, said the report. The focus was on young men and women over 15 years old and over who were playing a participatory role in the labor force. The authority conducted a survey to measure the rate of participation in economy growth and unemployment in the second half of 2015. Usually, it carries out the survey twice a year and it is planning to make this survey four times a year to get accurate figures about men and women participation in the workforce. One of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s initiatives within 2030 Vision is to reduce this gap in the labor force. The ministry will design policies targeting and developing the labor market and creating more job opportunities for both men and women equally. It will also enter into strategic partnerships with the private sector to increase women participation in the workforce and give them more chances to contribute to the development of the national economy. The ministry recently introduced training programs of cell phone maintenance for women to encourage women to venture into the telecommunications sector and work as cell phone technicians.
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07-07-2016
Diminishing Solidarity: Polish Attitudes toward the European Migration and Refugee Crisis
As Europe struggles to receive and integrate the massive influx of asylum seekers and migrants that began in mid-2015, the continent seems to once again be divided between East and West. The countries of East Central Europe argued vehemently against plans to relocate asylum seekers across the European Union (EU)—a proposal that was backed by Germany and other Western European countries. In September 2015, the Visegrád Group (composed of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia) released a joint statement saying “any [EU] proposal leading to [the] introduction of mandatory and permanent quota for solidarity measures would be unacceptable.” After weeks of railing against a proposed EU quota plan that would have seen 7,000 asylum seekers resettled in Poland of the 160,000 allocated across the European Union, the country’s government, led by Civic Platform Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, voted in September 2015 to accept it. In caving to European pressure, Poland was criticized by its fellow Visegrád Group members, who together with Romania all voted against the plan. Poland’s alignment with the European consensus did not last long, however. In the October 2015 parliamentary election, the right-wing Law and Justice Party won the majority of seats, and official rhetoric took on a harsher tone under the new government. After the March 2016 terrorist attacks in Brussels, Prime Minister Beata Szydło announced that Poland would not accept any refugees under the plan. “I say very clearly that I see no possibility at this time of immigrants coming to Poland,” Szydło said. This rightward shift is particularly momentous because Poland sees itself as the leader of East Central Europe, and now seems to be turning away from the “Weimar Triangle” (Poland, France, and Germany) and back towards the Visegrád Group. The change in the country’s political alignments furthers the region’s tendency to close borders and refuse to accept refugees, a trend that threatens European solidarity in this area. It is critical, therefore, to understand the factors behind the policy changes and harsh reaction to refugees seen in Poland and other East Central European countries. The week before the EU quota plan vote, thousands of Poles marched in cities across the country chanting “Today refugees, tomorrow terrorists!” and “Poland, free of Islam!” Many observers have portrayed this Islamophobia, demonstrated at far-right protests and in online forums, as an “Eastern European” problem. Yet while the media have tended to ascribe these antimigrant attitudes to either racism or economic concerns, the picture is much more nuanced. The calculations behind the Polish political rhetoric that has stoked increasingly harsh, and at times xenophobic, public opinion are part of a much larger European trend of anti-EU and anti-immigration sentiment. Poland’s Evolving Migration Role For most of the 20th century, Poland was a sending country of both refugees and immigrants. Faced with a lagging economy and the destruction of war, more than 1 million Polish migrants left for greater prosperity in Western Europe and the United States. Like many Eastern Bloc countries in the postwar period, the Polish government maintained an isolationist approach to migration policy, strictly controlling both emigration and immigration, and largely limiting asylum to nationals of other countries experiencing “class struggle” (such as Vietnam). In the 1990s, these policies began to change. As Poland liberalized its economy and sought to align itself with Western Europe, the government created an asylum regime in line with international standards and the 1951 Refugee Convention. Individuals from the former Soviet Union, Somalia, Afghanistan, and other countries began to seek asylum in Poland, and the government adopted an especially generous stance towards Bosnians and Chechens. The biggest change in Poland’s migration profile came with Polish accession to the European Union in 2004, and the freedom of mobility that such membership entailed. Within two years of accession, more than 264,000 Poles had been approved for work applications in the United Kingdom alone. As of 2015, an estimated 1.3 million to 2 million Poles resided in other Member States. The contrast between Poles’ willingness to utilize EU free movement provisions to their advantage, primarily through labor migration, and their recent unwillingness to
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04-07-2016
UAE Labour Law: When, why, by how much can employers deduct pay It is mandatory the worker shall be notified in writing of sanctions imposed, type, amount levied as fine and causes
Employers in the UAE can legally fine or deduct an employee’s pay for misconduct and breach of duties. This is specified in Article 102 of the country’s Labour Law. However, the pay cut that employees get is governed by another article, which sets the legal limit by which the boss can reduce the pay. The proceeding Article 104 of the Law states that the fine may be a specific amount or an amount equal to the wage of the worker for a specific period. The Law clearly states that the fine prescribed with regards to one breach may not exceed the wage of five days. Additionally, for the settlement of the fines imposed on the worker, a maximum amount equal to the wage of five days may be deducted from the wage of the worker per month. To safeguard the interest of the workers, Article 105 of the Law requires that employers record such details in a special register along with the cause and circumstances when the fine was imposed clearly stating the name and wage of the defaulting worker. To ensure that such fines are not misused, it is required that a special account be allocated for this purpose and the monthly proceeds are to be used for the social welfare of the workers in accordance with the decisions issued by the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs in this regard . Furthermore, Article 106 states that the penalty of deprivation of the periodic allowance may only be imposed once per year and such allowance may not be deferred for more than six months. Besides, the financial penalty stated above, an employer can also deprive an employee a promotion as a disciplinary act. However, this penalty of depriving promotion may not be imposed for more than one promotional cycle, as elaborated in Article 107. The penalised worker shall be then promoted during the following promotional cycle should he meet the necessary conditions for such a promotion. These disciplinary sanction are more or less imposed for breach of acts at the workplace. No fine may be imposed on the worker for an act perpetrated outside the workplace, unless it is connected to the work, the employer or the manager in-charge. It is not permitted to impose more than one sanction or combine any disciplinary sanction with the deduction of any part of the wage of the worker. The actions stated in Article 102 can only be imposed after the worker is notified of the penalty in writing and after having heard the worker and his defense, which should be thoroughly investigated and then recorded. It is also mandatory that the worker shall be notified in writing of the sanctions imposed, the type, the amount levied as fine and the causes of the imposition. Additionally, the worker may not be accused of a disciplinary offense after 30 days of the discovery and no disciplinary sanction may be imposed after 60 days from the date of the end of the investigation in the offence of which the worker is found guilty.
news
02-07-2016
Interior Ministry cautions travelers to Germany of visa regulations
RIYADH — The Ministry of Interior has told Saudi citizens traveling to Germany to find out beforehand entry visa regulations in the country and other relevant information. Maj. Gen. Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al-Maraol, director general for public relations and information in the Ministry of Interior, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been following up and working to resolve a number of cases where Saudi nationals faced difficulties at Frankfurt airport for various reasons, including a lack of knowledge about visa regulations in Germany. He said the confusion arose as a result of receiving Schengen visas from other European embassies, and not from German missions, to travel to Germany. He said those who travel to Europe should obtain Schengen visa from the embassy of the country that they intend to visit first, otherwise they may be considered violators of visa regulations. Al-Maraol said travel and tourism agencies should apply for a visa for the country the traveler plans to visit and must get all forms and documents translated into Arabic so that the traveler will be fully aware of the details of visa rules and compliance with local regulations.
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29-06-2016
UAE Labour Law: Warning, pay-cut, dismissal… 7 penalties you must know Article 120 of UAE Labour Law lists clauses when employer may enforce these penalties
UAE’s new labour regulations effective January 1 this year ensure that employees are treated fairly, with strict enforcement encouraging businesses in the country to protect the rights of their workers. However, there are certain cases where an employer may fine or even dismiss an employee for misconduct and breach of duties, and it is important for all employees to understand the circumstances when these penalties can be imposed. According to Article 102 of the UAE Labour Law, there are seven disciplinary rules that an employee should be aware of. These include: 1) A warning 2) A fine 3) Suspension with reduced pay for a period not exceeding ten days 4) Deprivation from or deferment of periodic bonus in establishments containing a system for such bonuses 5) Deprivation from promotion in establishments applying a system for such promotion 6) Dismissal from work without prejudice to the end of service gratuity 7) Dismissal from work and deprivation from the total end of service gratuity or a part thereof. These disciplinary rules may be inflicted by the employer or his/her representative. However, the law elaborates that such penalties will not be inflicted for reasons other than the ones mentioned exclusively in Article 120. What is included in Article 120? There are several clauses in Article 120 under which these disciplinary actions can be taken. • Termination during probation or on its expiry. • If the worker has adopted a false identity or nationality or submitted forged certificates or documents. • If a worker makes a mistake causing substantial material loss to the employer provided the employer notifies the relevant labour department within 48 hours of the accident. • If the worker disobeys instructions regarding industrial safety or the safety of the workplace provided the instructions have been issued in writing and are posted conspicuously in the workplace in a language accessible to the employee or explained to him orally. • If the worker does not perform his basic duties under the contract and persists in violating these despite being investigated and receiving a written warning notifying him of termination in the event of repeat offences. • If the worker reveals his employer's trade or business secrets or confidential information. • If the worker is finally sentenced by a competent court for an offence involving honour, honesty or public morals. • If the worker is drunk or under the influence of an illegal drug during work. • If while working the worker assaults the employer or his manager or a colleague. • If the worker is absent from work without a valid reason for more than 20 non-consecutive days or more than 7 consecutive days. Article 103 of the Law further states that a model list of disciplinary rules and rewards list can be made available to guide employers in setting their own rules in this regard.
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29-06-2016
New Nitaqat to end expats’ dominance
RIYADH — The balanced (Mawzoon) Nitaqat system, which comes into effect on Dec. 11, 2016, will put an end to the dominance of expatriate workers in critical jobs and bring down the unemployment rate, said Deputy Labor and Social Development Minister Ahmed Al-Humaidan. Addressing a press conference, he said: “The revised system will also improve the job market situation, raise the quality of employment, generate suitable jobs for Saudi men and women, create a secured and attractive working environment and end unproductive Saudization.” “The new Saudization system comes in line with Vision 2030. It will realize the objectives of the National Transformation Program,” Al-Humaidan said while expressing his deep concern over the growing unemployment rate in the country. He emphasized the need to address the issue of expats occupying important jobs, falling productivity of the job market, low participation of women and the gap between academic courses and job market requirements. “We’ll take quick measures to address job market challenges,” he added. Al-Humaidan said the Mawzoon system aims at qualitative improvement of Saudization by increasing the employment rate, helping Saudis to get high-salaried jobs, increase the number of female workers in companies and ensure job stability for Saudis. Speaking about the Saudization of the telecom sector, he said: “It’s being carried out as part of targeting potential sectors that offer good job opportunities for young Saudi men and women. We implemented this system after holding talks with telecom companies for the last six months.” He compared the ministry’s inspection campaign on targeted sectors to the cheetah that hunts down its prey after closely observing its movement. “The ministry carries out its inspection campaigns making use of its research and monitoring capabilities,” Al-Humaidan said. “We’ll inspect a firm when we learn there are discrepancies” such as salary difference and fake Saudization, he added. Al-Humaidan highlighted the success achieved by the Saudization program over the past year as it encouraged private companies to employ required number of Saudis to fulfill Nitaqat conditions. “Most companies have reached now secured levels,” he said. However, the deputy minister stressed that companies should offer more jobs to slash unemployment rate among the Saudis. Asked about the expected result of Mawzoon, he said: “It would result in the employment of more Saudis and increase the number of firms in the yellow category of the Nitaqat. At the same time, most companies will remain in the green zone.” The ministry introduced Mawzoon as part of its efforts to encourage private firms to employ more Saudis and bring about a spate of reforms in the job market in line with Vision 2030. Under the new Mawzoon system companies would be categorized into three groups: Firms having 50 to 99 workers, firms with 100 to 199 workers, and those with 200 to 499 workers. The ministry has decided to cancel all the previous regulations that stand in the way of the new Nitaqat system, which will be implemented from Dec. 11 this year.
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27-06-2016
Revealed: What makes employees happy... Salary or work environment? Dubai Statistics Center conducts 10-point study to ascertain what makes employees happier
Happiness is the top priority of the Dubai Government, hence, a survey has been conducted across different departments to ascertain what brings happiness to the employees – salary, allowances, job security or work environment etc. Conducted by Dubai Statistics Center, the survey results showed that more than nine out of ten employees – 95 per cent – believe that salaries and allowances are top of their needs to make them happier. Tariq Al Janahi, Deputy Executive Director of Dubai Statistics Centre, said the results showed that the factors that make employees happy vary from one staffer to another. Therefore, the organisations needed a guide to plan policies and programmes related to human resources with higher efficiency to make their workers happy. “Some prefer financial aspects like salaries and allowances as their top priorities to make them happy; while others prefer psychological factors like work environment and job security when it comes to job satisfaction.” The happiest employees are… The study revealed that employees aged over 56 years were the happiest followed by staffers aged between 18 to 25 years, then 46 to 55 years, then 36 to 45 years, and finally between 26 to 35 years. The survey was launched to determine top 10 priorities of the employees to achieve the highest level of happiness. More than, 5,000 people participated in the study within a week. Among the participants were 52.2 per cent Emiratis – 41.7 per cent females vs 58.3 per cent males, indicating high level of participation by the employees. “This is the first time that the center has conducted this kind of study of Dubai Government employees to provide important information to the institutions wishing to bring happiness to their employees,” Al Janahi told Arabic daily Emarat Al Youm. The results of the study, based on Dubai Statistics Center report, showed that the institutions should put together programmes that can meet the needs of the employees and also improve performances of the corporates.
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24-06-2016
Man forges visa, cons visitor for Dh25000 Accused is a repeat offender
A jobless Afghan national allegedly conned a Pakistani of Dh25000 and issued him a forged work visa, the Dubai Criminal Court heard. The 28-year-old victim, OA, knew FA through his brother back home. "I called him over the phone and asked him to issue me a visit visa. He did that and when I came to Dubai, I stayed with him in Hor Al Anz. He enquired if I was interested in a work permit. I agreed and transferred Dh25000 to his account to issue me a work visa. "He also arranged an interview for me with a company in Dubai. Later he handed me over a work visa but when I checked with Dubai Residency and Foreigners Affairs website I could found out that my visa does not exist in the system," he testified. The victim lodged a complaint with the police. The accused has also conned the company that issued the victim a visit visa. "In 2015, the accused approached my travel and tourism company and handed over a photocopy of the victim's passport. I issued the visa against Dh250, which the accused never paid," testified KA, 44, Afghani, investor. Dubai Residency and Foreigners Affairs Department reported that the visa dated April 28, 2016 was forged. Police arrested FA, 29, who admitted to receiving Dh25000 from the victim. The Dubai Prosecution submitted the forged visa to the court which will give sentence on July 14.
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23-06-2016
Three firms fined for fake work permits
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation referred three private sector firms to Al Ain’s Court of First Instance for allegedly issuing fake work permits and providing false data to the ministry to request quota for some facilities. Mubarak Al Dhahiri, Under-Secretary at the MoHRE, said, "Such serious offenses shall not be tolerated, and directly referred to the court for immediate actions. According to Cabinet Decision No.40 of 2014, a Dh20,000 fine shall be slapped on each fraud case followed by a complete halt to granting any work permits to such establishments." Al Dhahiri called upon local owners to follow up on businesses regularly in order to ensure avoiding such offenses. He stressed the ministry’s keenness on providing services to all customers with complete ease, speed and accuracy, particularly, when it comes to issuing work permits, the ministry audits the requests through competent committees that ensures granting all the labour market necessities on time. Al Ain Court of First Instance gave a sentence of one year's imprisonment to an Asian businessman (NK) followed by deportation from the country and confiscation of the documents which were presented and submitted to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation to request permits for two workers. The firm (SB) was also given a Dh50,000 fine. The second case punished Asian businessman (MA) with one year's imprisonment followed by deportation, and the confiscation of the fake documents submitted to the ministry requesting two work permits, in addition to fining the firm (AA) Dh50,000 for breaking the law. The final case punished Asian businessman (WB) with three years imprisonment followed by deportation, the confiscation of the submitted fake documents for three work permits, in addition to charging the firm (BA) a AED50,000 fine.
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23-06-2016
Employees in Dubai’s free zones to have unified labour contract Dubai Free Zone Council approves decision to facilitate transfer of companies within free zones in the emirate of Dubai
Employees in all the free zones of Dubai will have a unified employment contract under a new proposal discussed by a higher body. Chaired by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Free Zone (DFZ) Council, the meeting debated unifying of labour contracts for workers in these hubs in accordance with the labour laws of the UAE. Sheikh Ahmed directed the Council members to put together a sample contract for working within the free zone areas. Starting January 1, 2016, the UAE implemented new labour contract that standardises employment terms. The Dubai Free Zone Council was established in April 2015 to develop and qualify Dubai’s free zones to attract investments and establish an advanced investment environment that contributes to promoting industry, commerce, tourism and the services sectors in Dubai. The Council comprises senior officials of the various free zones in Dubai as well as the Director General of Dubai Municipality and the Director-General of State Security in Dubai. Ease of Company Transfer The Dubai Free Zone Council approved a decision to facilitate the transfer of companies among the free zones in the emirate of Dubai. A company that is looking to relocate to a new free zone can now transfer its complete registration and record to the new hub without having to cancel its outstanding registration and/or liquidating the business. This will give companies wishing to relocate to a more appropriate environment in Dubai the necessary financial and administrative stability to do so. Following in-depth research and analysis of various measures within the UAE and abroad, the legal committee has developed a framework that will allow seamless transfer of companies between free zones, as directed by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. Preventing Double Taxation The members of the Dubai Free Zone Council also underlined the need to cooperate with the Ministry of Finance (MoF) in abiding with the international agreements signed by the UAE with regard to preventing double taxation. The Council committed to providing the Ministry with necessary information and data to improve the classification of the UAE - as per the standards of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information. For its part, the Ministry of Finance presented the UAE’s obligations in the prevention of double taxation. Till date, the UAE has ratified 97 agreements for the prevention of double taxation and four agreements for the exchange of information for tax purposes. The Council discussed ways to attract more investments through identifying appropriate solutions to some of the challenges highlighted in the feedback received on the UAE’s free zones.
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22-06-2016
Indians dominate pvt. sector workforce
JEDDAH — As many as 2.2 million Indian nationals, representing about 20 percent, are employed by the private sector in Saudi Arabia topping all other nationalities working in this sector especially those from the sub-continent, local daily Al-Madina reported on Tuesday quoting official figures released by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. According to the ministry, the Pakistanis at 1.8 million occupy second place at the ratio of 17 percent followed by the Egyptians who are third with about a million people representing about 10 percent. The ministry’s figures said there were 720,000 Yemenis working in the Saudi private sector representing about seven percent of the foreign work force in this sector. There