NEW DELHI: Saudi Arabia on Thursday assured India that its Nitaqat work 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.
Visiting Saudi Arabian labour minister Adel bin Mohammed Fakeih, addressing a press conference here, also said that the kingdom has issued more than one million work visas, including many to the Indian community. He said Saudi Arabia has always had “excellent relations with Indian workers – one of the communities we had the least of problems with”.
Overseas Indian affairs minister Vayalar Ravi thanked the Saudi government for “its humanitarian approach while adopting the Nitaqat programme” – Saudization of employment policy – and said most of the Indians have corrected their work status.
Answering a question on Nitaqat, Fakeih said “only a small percentage of workers have been affected by it”. He said the kingdom has “issued more than an million work visas globally, including many to Indian nationals”.
The Saudi minister said the kingdom is witnessing growth in industrialization programme and construction, and expanding its manufacturing. “We don’t see necessarily that we are offering job opportunities for our own job seekers. On the contrary, Nitaqat has helped clarify and regularise the foreign workers in our country.”
“For those who have come with work permits specifically to work in specific jobs for employers with Nitaqat, we have allowed those in yellow and red bands (firms) to go and search for other jobs within the country as long as the new employer is in agreement with our nationalisation standards. During the grace period, almost 400,000 Indians regularised work permits and formally changed their working relationship, and in that process have become legal, welcome workers in our country,” he said.
Fakeih said the jobs that Saudis get in the kingdom are only 15 percent while the rest 85 percent go to international workers.
Nitaqat is a Saudization programme introduced by the Saudi ministry of labour in June 2011 to make private firms hire more Saudis. The firms are categorised blue (premium), green, yellow and red based on the number of Saudi nationals employed. Companies with high Saudization rates will come under the green category.