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Mar 29, 2013 at 12:14pm IST

Nationalising workforce law in Saudi Arabia to hit Indian employees

New Delhi: Thousands of Indian workers are likely to lose their jobs after a workforce nationalisation law came into effect in Saudi Arabia on Friday. The Nitaqat law makes it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers.

Reports say the plan threatens the livelihood of nearly two million expatriates, a majority of them Indians. Both the Kerala and Andhra Pradesh governments have urged the Centre to take up the issue with the Saudi government.

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.

Stating that there were limitations for the Centre to interfere in the internal policy decisions of Saudi Arabia, Chandy said "but an appeal to the Saudi Arabian authorities to give more time for the implementation of Nitaquat may give a breathing space for the expatriates and avoid immediate repercussions."

Under the new policy, 10 per cent of jobs even in small and medium business establishments should be reserved for Saudi nationals. The total remittances in Kerala from Non-Resident Keralites in 2011 was estimated to be approximately Rs.55,000 crore compared to Rs.43,228 crore in 2008, the economic review for the year 2012 pointed out. In 2011, 2.28 million Keralites were working abroad. Of them, some 570,000 are in Saudi Arabia, a report said.

(With additional information from PTI)

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