Saturday, June 22, 2024

Another blow to manpower export

Oman restricts visa for six months
The country’s manpower export sector will again suffer a setback as Gulf state Oman has imposed restrictions on visas for construction and cleaning workers for the next six months. The Oman Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said it will stop issuing visas to non-Omani workers in construction and cleaning sectors for the next six months. The royal decree came into effect today.
The MOM also promulgated a royal decree to stop issuance of visa for workers in construction and cleaning jobs in the private sector, according to news published in The Times of Oman, a leading newspaper in Oman. “We are watching the situation. We have nothing to do because the restriction was imposed for all countries, not only for Bangladesh,” said Khondker Mosharraf Hossein, the minister for expatriate welfare and overseas employment.
“I do not see any problem as we have opened the manpower export market to 157 countries in the world,” he told The Independent on Thursday last night.
The minister said that Oman has imposed the restrictions as the country does not need more workers. It (Oman) would open the door again once they need workers, he added.
Oman recruited the highest number of workers from Bangladesh this year. Of the three lakh workers who left for overseas job till September, the Gulf state recruited one lakh workers, according to the statistics provided by the Bureau of Manpower Export and Training (BMET).
The statistics show that Oman recruited on an average 10,000 workers every month since the beginning of this year. Qatar, another Gulf state, recruited 42,898 Bangladeshis during this period and was the second highest recruiter from Bangladesh.
Most of the Bangladeshi workers went to Oman and Qatar for construction and cleaning jobs. The restrictions imposed by Oman would reduce the manpower export drastically. “Surely it would reduce the manpower export from Bangladesh,” said Ali Haider Chowdhury, secretary general of the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), the main platform of private manpower exporting agencies.
Chowdhury also said the manpower export sector has already been badly affected. The overall manpower export from the country declined by around 40 per cent this year, compared to last year. Over five lakh Bangladeshis had found job abroad still September last year.
The sector has been badly hit by such restrictions imposed by other Gulf and Middle Eastern countries earlier. The UAE imposed such restrictions in August last year. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been maintaining a tight policy for the last couple of years while recruiting workers from abroad. Oman, however, recruits workers from Bangladesh on the basis of individual visas, instead of group visa released by the recruiting agencies.
According to the new ruling, companies rated as “excellent”, international companies, companies executing government projects and consultancy firms are excluded from the ban. Under the new ruling, companies low in grade category will not be allowed to issue new visas till May 2014 for non-Omani workforce. However, the companies which can produce applications before October 31 will be permitted to issue new visas, the ruling added. In addition, the renewal of existing visas and recruitment on visas already sanctioned will be permitted. Similarly, the family visa status will not be affected. However, to be able to get See a fresh family visa, expatriates should have a minimum salary of OMR 600.
In the first week of October, the MOM announced that it will begin to strictly enforce Article 114 of the Omani Labour Law from November 1, and will penalise the violators. According to the MOM, if any company violates the labour law and ministerial decrees, it would face stringent measures as stated in Article 114 of the Labour Law. Article 114 states that fines will be imposed on the violators. Expatriates violating the law will be deported and the companies found violating the law will be banned from hiring expatriate manpower for one year.
The MOM also announced that from November onward, applications of companies willing to hire expatriate workers will not be processed, if they fail to produce ownership document/rent agreement/electricity metre number of the establishment.
The latest figures indicate that inspection teams apprehended more than 12,000 expatriate workers violating the provisions of the Omani labour law in various governorates during the first nine months of this year.

-With The Independent input

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