The government is trying to remove all bottlenecks in providing training in skill development and communication to those seeking to work abroad, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said today. She said the government issues emergency certificates to all such Indians whose passports have been taken away by their employers and tries to retrieve the passports. Responding to concerns of members on high air fares of those returning from abroad, she said the External Affairs Ministry has taken up with the Civil Aviation Ministry for not charging workers returning from abroad high air fares. Replying to supplementaries on problems faced by Indians going or returning to Gulf countries, she said government is sensitising states to inform returnee workers about resettlement programmes and financial support schemes initiated by the government that could help resettle them. She said the government was ready to work closely with the state governments in this regard.
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“The government has initiated a policy of providing training in skill development and for honing up communication skills to all those wanting to go abroad for work…We are now trying to remove the bottlenecks. We are trying to provide pre-departure training through our skill development initiative,” she said.
The Minister said the government was closely monitoring the evolving political and economic situation in the Middle East where over 8.5 million Indian expatriates are presently residing.
“The ongoing economic downturn in the Gulf countries due to fall in crude oil prices has affected Indian expatriate workers. The government is working in coordination with the governments in Gulf States towards extending all possible assistance to Indian nationals abroad,” she said in a written reply.
She said Indian Missions and Posts are working proactively to address the concerns of the resident Indian community and complaints pertaining to employment related issues are taken up by Indian Missions with foreign employer and concerned labour authorities for prompt redressal.
“Presently, a section of Indian workers facing difficulties in two major Saudi companies namely, Saudi Oger and the Saad Group, are being brought back to India.
“The Saudi authorities have extended necessary support to the affected Indian workers of these companies including in waiver of fines on Iqama (resident permit) related violations, providing exit visas and one way return tickets to India as well as transfer of sponsorship, wherever possible, on gratis basis,” she said.
The process is nearing completion and 4870 Indian workers have returned so far, she said, adding the government has worked closely with the states to ensure that the returnees reach their destination in India without any hassle.