‘Nitaqat yet to be enforced; Indians know ground situation’
Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi on Friday said the Indian government was constantly monitoring the situation in Saudi Arabia through its embassy in Riyadh in view of the Kingdom’s proposed implementation of the “Nitaqat” (naturalisation) programme in its employment sector.
The Saudi Labour Ministry’s law seeks to make it mandatory for the private employment sector — comprising small and medium enterprises — to reserve 10 per cent of their jobs for locals.
Quoting a Malayalam daily, Mr. Ravi told The Hindu that the Saudi authorities were yet to enforce the programme; unnecessary panic and anxiety had been created among the Indian expatriates. The Indian workers there had been informed of the ground situation. “As per the new policy of that government, for every 10 workers at least one Saudi national should be given employment,” Mr. Ravi said.
While the deadline for the law’s implementation had ended on Wednesday, local authorities were yet to begin the process of verification in establishments there.
Sources here said the Indian embassy had been asked to provide all information and support to the Indian workers. The Indian community is the largest workforce in the Kingdom and as many as 20 lakh of them are employed there with a sizeable number belonging to Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
According to reports, of the approximately 2.5 crore Indians working abroad, those in the Gulf countries number as high as 60 lakh. Even among these Middle Eastern expatriates, 48 per cent are employed in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait alone.
This is not a new programme, having been announced by the Kingdom as early as June 2011.
Those working in mid-level jobs — such as managers, administrative assistants, receptionists, accountants, typists, marketing executives, hotel and sales staff, drivers, clerks, teachers, secretaries, telephone and computer operators — are expected to be affected by the programme.
There may not be much problem to those like construction workers, plumbers, fitters, electricians, cleaners, maids, security guards or top level positions like information texperts, general/deputy general managers, chartered accountants. While locals don’t necessarily prefer lower-level jobs, Saudi education is not so advanced as to enable them to get higher-level jobs.
The Nitaqat law is not applicable to those firms/industries which employed less than 10 workers.