New Saudi work policy to impact thousands of Biharis

New Delhi, April 2 Thousands of Indians, especially Malayalis and Biharis employed in Saudi Arabia, may be impacted by a new work policy of the kingdom that seeks to reserve a certain percentage of jobs for locals.

According to the new Nitaqat policy - or Saudisation programme - of the kingdom, 10 percent of jobs are to be reserved for locals. The policy is aimed at expanding employment opportunities for Saudi nationals.

There are over two million Indians working in Saudi Arabia, including about 2 lakhs from Bihar alone.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Monday evening there was no need to panic and the Indian government would provide assistance to Indians forced to return from Saudi Arabia.

"If somebody has to go to another country, he has to satisfy the rules of that country. But if there is inconvenience caused to any Indian citizens, then whatever assistance we can give, we will provide," Khurshid assured.

Thousands of Bihari migrants mostly from Gopalganj, Siwan and other north Bihar districts would loose their jobs in Saudi Arabia.

According to reports, street cleaning and other sanitation works have been hit hard by the Saudisation programme as almost 100 per cent of the workers in this sector are foreigners, mostly Indians. Many of them are illegal immigrants.

Labour inspectors and police have begun conducting raids on enterprises suspected of employing illegal workers.

Employers complying with the Nitaqat norms would be rewarded with incentives while those failing would have to shut shop as the work permits of their expatriate workers would not be renewed, according to Saudi reports. The work permit is mandatory for getting the residential permit.

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