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New Saudi labour law not to affect genuine workers: Khurshid

Berlin: India has ruled out any impact on genuine workers in Saudi Arabia as a result of the Kingdom's new labour policy, saying that only illegal immigrants will be affected by the 'Nitaqat' law.

Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid, who accompanied Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Germany earlier this week, said here that genuine workers need not worry as the new Saudi law will impact only those who do not have proper work permit.

The new labour law 'Nitaqat' makes it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers.

There has been widespread perception that the new policy will lead to denial of job opportunities for a large number of Indians working there. The Saudi government was implementing the Nitaqat law to cut unemployment in the country.

Khurshid said the new law was not just for Indians and it would also affect thousands of illegal immigrants from countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

Khurshid has said Indian workers play an important role in Saudi Arabia's economy and the Kingdom's authorities recognise this.

Removal of illegal immigrants will open the doors for genuine workers, he said.

Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi is also expected to visit Saudi Arbia to convey India's apprehension about possible job losses to the 2 million-plus strong Indian community due to the new labour law that seeks to reserve 10 per cent jobs for locals.

Last month, Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamad, who was in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, to attend the Asian Development Dialogue, had met Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Saudi vice minister of Foreign Affairs, and conveyed the anxiety and concerns of India on the issue.

The Prince assured Ahamad that Saudi will always give the best consideration for Indians working in the Kingdom and values its very cordial relations with India.

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