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India-Saudi Arabia joint group to address Nitaqat issue

India-Saudi Arabia joint group to address Nitaqat issue

New Delhi: A India-Saudi Arabia joint working group has been formed that will work toward minimising the fallout of the Kingdom’s Nitaqat policy on Indians.

India on Sunday conveyed its concerns to Saudi Arabia over possible job loss to a large number of Indians in the Kingdom due to its new labour law.

A delegation led by Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi met Saudi Arabian Labour Minister Adel Fakieh to convey India's concern over the Nitaqat programme.

Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed and Advisor to Prime Minister T K A Nair were also part of the delegation.

'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.

Over two million Indians are currently working in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government was implementing the Nitaqat law to cut unemployment in the country.

Earlier India had said that new Saudi labour policy will affect only illegal immigrants and not genuine workers employed in the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia had earlier given a three-month grace period to foreigner workers to regularise their status after a panic over mass deportations as part of a crackdown on illegal migrants.

The world's top oil exporter has more than nine million expatriates whose remittances home provide important revenue for countries including Yemen, India, Pakistan and the Philippines.

More than 200,000 foreigners have been deported from the country over the past few months as part of labour market reforms aimed at putting more Saudi nationals into private sector jobs, where they now make up only a tenth of the workforce.

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