1 Ministerial Consultations STATEMENT by H.E. Senator Tariq Azim Khan Minister of State of Labour, Manpower and Overseas Palkistanis Pakistan
2 In the name of Almighty Allah Who is the most Beneficent, Merciful and Omnipresent. Hon ble Chairman Mr. Fahmi Idris, Minister of Manpower and Transmigration. Government of Republic of Indonesia, Mr. Brunson McKinley, Director General, I.O.M, Excellencies, Ministers, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen Good Morning On behalf of the people and Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, I am grateful to IOM and the Government of Indonesia for organizing this important Ministerial Consultation in a bid to apprise the participants of the outcome and follow up on the recommendations made during the 2 nd Labour Migration Ministerial Consultation of countries of origin in Asia held on 24 th September, 2004 in Manila. The issues pertaining to migrant workers, their contractual obligations, welfare of workers and their families back home are of utmost importance. In recent years, migration for employment has become top policy agenda for many countries of origin, transit and destination. Government of Pakistan is committed to providing adequate job opportunities to our workers within the country and abroad. Major aim of these Consultations has been to provide a platform to Asian labour sending countries to share experiences in the process of migration to the optimum benefit of migrants as well boosting the export of manpower. Ladies and Gentlemen, Previous deliberations, during these Consultations held in Colombo and Manila, have been very useful and efforts of IOM are highly commendable. A brief on implementation of recommendations at Manila Ministerial Consultations held on 24 th Sept has already been furnished by my Ministry and senior officials of the Ministry have also given a presentation yesterday which discussed operational process of migration. I would like to briefly apprise this august forum the steps taken so far by the Government of Pakistan for protection of rights of our workers, their welfare abroad and their families back in Pakistan, as well as our efforts for expansion of technical training and enhancement of skills of our workers and inter-state relationship.
3 Ladies and Gentlemen, A Policy and Planning Cell has been established in the Ministry to formulate Migration Policy which will propose suitable amendments in Emigration Law, for the benefit of migrants workers. Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment, an attached department of my Ministry, acts as a regulatory authority to ensure legal emigration and protection of workers rights under Emigration Ordinance, 1979 and regulates licenced Oversees Employment Promoters. Foreign Service Agreements of the workers outlining terms and conditions of employment are registered with the Protectorate of Emigrants. In case of breach of any of the provisions of the Foreign Service Agreement, concerned stakeholder i.e. employers and Overseas Employment Promoters are obliged to settle the dispute amicably. Community Welfare Attaches posted in the host countries also assists in settling disputes between employers and the employees. Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF), an autonomous organization attached to the Ministry, is responsible to undertake welfare measures. A nominal amount is deposited by each emigrant before departure for accomplishment of various welfare activities of OPF. Some of these activities are: Cases of death compensation, disability and family pension etc. of Overseas Pakistanis in collaboration with Pakistan s Missions abroad are processed regularly; Financial aid is provided to the destitute families in the event of death or disability of an Overseas Pakistani during his stay abroad or within three years of his return to Pakistan; Health facilities are provided for families of Overseas Pakistanis; Education facilities, Scholarships and Merit Awards are arranged for the children of Overseas Pakistanis in various Schools/Colleges; and Housing Schemes are launched to cater for the housing needs of the Overseas Pakistanis. A small amount, as insurance premium, is deposited by each emigrant at the time of his departure for cover against death and disability for a period of two years. Being cognizant of the need of technical/vocational training, Ministry of Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis has decided to establish an apex authority namely National Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (NTEVTA), to regulate and promote technical education and vocational training facilities in various fields. The Government is planning to set up a one stop migration information center to provide and facilitate migrant for prompt processing of their cases.
4 Government of Pakistan supports the idea for the establishment of Migrant Resource Center in Kuwait for facilitation of managed migration and resolution of grievances of migrant workers. I may add that the Government of Pakistan is proudly hosting nearly 3 million refugees apart from providing employment to about 300,000 foreign workers. Ladies and Gentlemen, I request this August Forum to invite more representatives of developed countries where job opportunities exist so that they may be apprised of availability of workforce of labour surplus countries to meet requirement in their labour deficit sectors on managed migration basis. I must acknowledge and congratulate IOM on its efforts to bring countries of destination to this forum. It was long outstanding request of countries of origin which has now been met. Personally, I have studied and worked abroad before assuming the charge of this portfolio as Minister of State. I can well imagine the difficulties faced by overseas workers. It may be recalled that migrant workers were better treated years ago and all expenses on account of their employment were borne by their employers. Today the position has been reversed. Host Governments, in pursuit of Nativization Policy have imposed levies. Visa and residence permit fees which are supposed to be paid by employer before getting approval of the host government for recruitment of foreign workers. Unfortunately, the burden of all these expenses has shifted on the shoulders of poor migrants with the connivance of manpower resource companies operating in both the countries of origin and destination. I would like to propose to this distinguished forum that Inter state dialogue on this important issue be initiated so that vulnerable migrant workers are provided better protection from the clutches of these unscrupulous elements. IOM can play a positive role in arranging this dialogue. It will be a great service to the cause of migrant workers and their dependants world over. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is in the mutual interest of both the sending and receiving countries to look after the welfare of the vulnerable migrant workers. A satisfied and a happy worker is a good worker. Studies show that decreasing birth rate, coupled with increasing life expectancy, especially in European countries and with ever rising living standards in receiving countries, migrant workers will be needed to cater for an aging population and for doing low-end jobs which local workers are reluctant to take. Better managed migration policies will benefit all. We need to work together to take pro-active measures for the benefit of all concerned the sending countries, the receiving countries and above all the migrant workers.
5 On behalf of the people of Government of Pakistan I assure this Ministerial Consultation that Pakistan will play its role in promoting lawful migration, welfare of migrant workers and their families, transfer of technology and technical know how. We need to work together for eradication of mal-practices in migration and exploitation of workers at all levels. I am grateful to IOM and Government of Indonesia for inviting me and giving me an opportunity to address issue of managed migration for the development and prosperity of humanity. I must not forget to appreciate the peaceful, pleasant environment and wonderful arrangements made for this important event. I thank you all for your patient hearing. Wassalm Alaikum Warahma Utallah Wabarakatuh