Dushanbe: India on Friday raised its concern with Saudi Arabia over its policy of reserving 10 per cent jobs for locals, a decision which will hit over 3 lakh low-and semi-skilled workers from India with a sizable number coming from Kerala.
Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamad, who is in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, to attend the Asian Development Dialogue, on Friday met Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, vice minister of Foreign Affairs, and conveyed the anxiety and concerns of India on the issue.
The Prince assured Ahamad that Saudi will always give the best consideration for Indians working in the Kingdom and values its very cordial relations with India.
Under the new law, 10 per cent of jobs even in small and medium business establishments should be reserved for Saudi nationals.
The Saudi Minister, who is here to attend the conference, said he will bring the matter to the notice of the Labour Ministry and concerned authorities when he gets back to Riyadh.
On his part, Ahamad told the Prince that India enjoys the best of relations with Saudi and hope that no step will be taken that will adversely affect expatriates in the Kingdom.
The Indian Embassy has also taken up the matter with the Saudi Government, Ahamad told PTI adding, "There is no panic situation as of now. The Indian government will pursue the matter in the best possible way."
Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi on Thursday said he had asked the Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia to take up the issue with Riyadh and its Labour Ministry and ensure that there would be no job loss for Indians on a mass scale.
The new labour policy, called Nitaqat, might lead to the denial of job opportunities for large number of expatriates from India, especially from Kerala, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"It has come to my notice that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has initiated strong steps to implement Nitaquat law to expand employment avenues to its nationals which may ultimately lead to the denial of job opportunities for expatriates," he said.
In 2011, 2.28 million Keralites were working abroad. Of them, some 570,000 are in Saudi Arabia, a report said.