Top officials voice worries to Saudi Labour Ministry about two million Indians working in Gulf kingdom
Indian officials have raised concerns about the impact of Saudi Arabia's jobs policy on its expat workers in the Gulf kingdom.
According to local media, a delegation led by Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi met Saudi Arabia's Labour Minister Adel Fakieh to convey India's worries about the Nitaqat programme.
Over two million Indians are currently working in Saudi Arabia but the Saudi government is implementing the labour law in a bid to cut unemployment among Saudi nationals.
Previously, India had said that new Saudi labour policy would affect only illegal immigrants in the kingdom, India's Economic Times reported.
The world's top oil exporter has more than nine million expatriates whose remittances home provide important revenue for countries including Yemen, India, Pakistan and the Philippines.
More than 200,000 foreigners have been deported from the country over the past few months as part of labour market reforms aimed at putting more Saudi nationals into private sector jobs.
Last month, it was reported that at least 2m expatriates in Saudi Arabia could soon lose their jobs, with about 250,000 companies yet to meet Saudisation quotas.
The Nitaqat system, introduced in 2011, involves a system of rewards and punishments for the country’s 800,000 registered private companies, depending on how well they meet quotas for the number of Saudis on their payroll.
Companies fulfilling their quotas are listed in the green zone, receiving privileges such as expedited visas for foreign workers and the right to hire expatriates working for other companies without first getting approval.
Firms that fall short of their quotas but are considered to be making efforts to reach them are in the yellow zone and face some restrictions on access to foreign labour.
Those that have not made any effort to employ Saudis are placed in the red zone. As well as a ban on renewing work permits for existing foreign workers those companies also will be denied services and licences by the ministry.
Workers whose visas are not renewed would be deported under the new law.