Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday expressed his gratitude to Saudi Arabia for addressing the problems of over a million Indian workers after that country adopted a new labour policy.
“…I would like to record my appreciation for the work of the (India’s) Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs as also the government of kingdom of Saudi Arabia for successfully addressing the challenges that more than one million Indian workers faced following changes in Saudi Arabia’s labour policies,” he said here while addressing the inaugural session of the 12th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the annual gathering of the people of Indian origin.
The new Nitaqat or Saudisation policy in that Gulf nation makes it mandatory for all Saudi companies to reserve 10 percent of jobs for Saudi nationals.
Following the implementation of the policy, Saudi authorities granted a six-month grace period last year for all expatriates to either rectify their residency status or leave the country.
Earlier this month, Saudi Labour Minister Adel bin Mohammed Fakeih had said that the Nitaqat policy had affected only a small percentage of Indians and that 400,000 of them in the kingdom had corrected their work status, becoming legal and welcome workers.
Addressing the media here on January 02, Fakeih also said that the kingdom has issued more than one million work visas, including many to the Indian community.
There are around 2.8 million expatriate Indians in Saudi Arabia, a large number of whom are blue collar workers.