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Ravi to discuss with states fallout of new Saudi labour law

New Delhi, Apr 4, 2013, (PTI):

Worried over possible job losses to Indians in Saudi Arabia due to a new labour law, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi today said he will meet concerned ministers of nine states next week to discuss the issue and announced that government will bear airfares of "deserving" Indians wanting to come back.

Terming the issue as "serious", Ravi said he has directed the Indian Ambassador to impress upon the Saudi Government to ensure that Indian workers do not face any job losses in the wake of the Gulf nation implementing the Nitaqat law that seeks to reserve 10 per cent jobs for locals.

Over two million Indians are currently working in Saudi Arabia.

"We have decided to provide air tickets to deserving people who want to come back from the country. I have asked the Ambassador to extend all possible help to our citizens affected by the law," Ravi told PTI.

Ravi said on Tuesday he will meet concerned Ministers of nine states including Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab and Rajasthan from where large number of people have gone to Saudi Arabia for employment.

"It is a serious issue. Majority of the people have gone to the country on group visa. They were given employment by their sponsors. But some of them are now facing serious problems due to this new law," he said.

Ravi said over 3,500 Indian workers have approached the embassy in Riyadh seeking issuance of Out Pass (Emergency Certificate) to leave the country as they had given their passports to the sponsors.

Asked about his proposed visit to Saudi Arabia along with Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed, Ravi said the dates have not been finalised yet. "The visit will take place soon," he said.

The Nitaqat law makes it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers. There has been widespread perception that the new policy will lead to denial of job opportunities for a large number of Indians working there.

The Saudi government was implementing the Nitaqat law to cut unemployment in the country.

The government had yesterday said that there was no reason for the Indian workforce in Saudi Arabia to be "paranoid" on account of the new law and asserted there was "ongoing" discussion with the Saudi authorities in the matter.


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