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No need for panic over Saudi job law: Ravi

Special Correspondent
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Chandy, Achuthanandan write separate letters to Manmohan Singh

Vayalar Ravi
Vayalar Ravi

With Nitaqat, the restrictive job law of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia taking effect, there was a flurry of activity at the Centre and the State to tackle the possible impact of the new Saudi law.

At a news conference in the national capital, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said the government was working through the embassy in the kingdom to minimise the impact of the new law.

In the State capital, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan and State Non-Resident Keralite Affairs Minister K.C. Joseph also wrote separate letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other key players at the national level seeking their urgent intervention to ensure that there was no mass return of Indians following enforcement of the new law.

“There is no reason to panic, though there will certainly be some problems,” Mr. Ravi told reporters in New Delhi.

He was confident that there was no immediate possibility of a mass exodus from the kingdom but could not give the exact number of persons who would be affected by the new law or what could possibly be done to redeem the situation.

The Saudi government, he pointed out, was working through the companies to achieve its end of expanding the employment avenues of Saudi nationals.

The government, he said, had received information about the new law three months ago. Following this, his Ministry had instructed the embassy in the kingdom to monitor the situation.

The problem, he said, was that the government had no exact count of the persons who could become targets of the new law. “What we can do is to do the maximum to protect our people,” he said.

In his letter, Mr. Chandy urged the Prime Minister to appreciate the seriousness of the situation and its implications for India, especially for Kerala, and intervene so that the kingdom took a liberal approach in the matter.

“I do appreciate the limitations of the Government of India to interfere in the internal policy decisions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But an appeal to the KSA authorities to give more time for the implementation of Nitaquat may give a breathing space for the expatriates and avoid immediate repercussions,” he said. In his letter, Mr. Achuthanandan pointed out that any mass exodus from the kingdom would have serious social repercussions and aggravate the unemployment situation in the State. The government should also take urgent steps to rehabilitate those who returned following loss of employment in the kingdom. In his communication, Mr. Joseph said if the government took appropriate steps, it should be possible to secure some relief.

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