Staff Reporter

Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust plea

Kozhikode: Organisations working for the welfare of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations have urged the government and the Centre to maintain a database on those returning to the country following the economic crisis in West Asia.

“If such a databank is kept, the government will be able to work out viable projects for them in India as well as abroad,” said K.V. Shamsudheen, chairman of the United Arab Emirates-based Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust.

Positive work culture

He told The Hindu that Gulf returnees had a positive work culture and had experience in modern systems and technology. At present, the government had no similar pro-active action plan in this regard. The consulates and embassies had no idea of the number of people returning.

At the same time, many other Asian countries had clear figures of their emigrants. “Such databanks have enabled other countries to supply manpower where it is required. When the Philippines government understood that thousand of workers will be rendered jobless in some Gulf countries, its Labour Minister visited Qatar and made an agreement to provide over one lakh work force,” he said.

New projects

Mr. Shamsudheen said that Saudi Arabia and Qatar had several new projects. The NRIs losing jobs could be accommodated in these countries if the government agencies took some effort.

“As of now, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman have not been affected by the global economic slump badly as these countries are not deeply dependent on credit and tourism. Saudi Arabia’s tourism depends mainly on religious tourism, which will continue despite the slowdown.”

The fall in oil prices had led to shrinkage of their oil revenue. On the other hand, they had bumper profit when its price went up to $147.

“These countries are now coming up with huge projects to utilise the current low price of construction materials using their reserves.”

But the neighbouring UAE, especially Dubai, which grew on its trade and business in the last decade, shifted focus to real estate and tourism. It introduced freehold properties and permitted expatriates to buy properties.

He said that the financial situation in the UAE was similar to the sub-prime crisis in the U.S. As a result, many projects had been suspended and property prices had come down drastically.

Construction companies, hotels and financial institutions and banks were compelled to lay off workers.