Pakistan insists on Qatar World Cup workers’ rights

This file photo shows construction work at the Al-Wakrah Stadium (Al-Janoub Stadium), a World Cup venue designed by celebrated Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, some 15 kilometers on the outskirts of the Qatari capital Doha on Feb. 6, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 25 June 2019
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Pakistan insists on Qatar World Cup workers’ rights

  • Qatari plans to offer Pakistan up to 100,000 work permits
  • Amnesty International has warned Qatar against exploitation of tens of thousands of migrant laborers

BRUSSELS: Pakistan will insist on proper labor rights for an army of its citizens working on Qatar’s football World Cup infrastructure, the country’s foreign minister said Monday, after repeated reports of abuses.
The gas-rich Gulf state has embarked on a huge construction program to get ready for the 2022 tournament, drawing intense scrutiny from rights and labor campaigners.
Earlier this year Amnesty International warned that despite “nascent reforms,” Qatar was running out of time to stamp out widespread and serious exploitation of tens of thousands of migrant laborers, many of them from South Asia.
There have been reports of wages going unpaid, passports being held by unscrupulous bosses and some laborers working up to 148 days in a row.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi welcomed Qatar’s plans to offer his countrymen up to 100,000 work permits but insisted World Cup workers’ rights must be respected.
“Certainly we will ask our embassy and we will ask the recruiting agencies to give better terms,” he told AFP during a visit to Brussels.
“Where we feel Pakistani labor is contributing, we feel they should be looked after as well.”
Qatar insists it is committed to labor reform.
Since it was chosen as World Cup host it has introduced a monthly minimum wage of 750 riyals ($206) and partially scrapped the exit visa system which required workers to obtain their employers’ permission before leaving the country.
Qureshi welcomed the changes but said Pakistan would push for more.
“I think other facilities like health cover and stuff like that can be negotiated and we will talk with them about that,” he said.
Qureshi’s trip to Brussels comes as cash-strapped Pakistan seeks foreign investment, with the government forced to announce an austerity budget after securing a $6 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund.
After talks with senior EU officials on Tuesday, the minister will sign a “strategic engagement plan” with the bloc’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini.  


No change in instructions on purchase of foreign currency by banks, clarifies central bank

Updated 22 July 2019
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No change in instructions on purchase of foreign currency by banks, clarifies central bank

  • Some media outlets misinterpreted the updated version of Foreign Exchange Manual, causing confusion
  • Commercial banks cannot replace exchange companies, says Malik Bostan

KARACHI: Pakistan’s exchange companies would continue to play their role in the country’s economy, clarified the State Bank of Pakistan on Monday, noting that there was no change in the instruction on purchase of foreign currency notes by banks who were already allowed to deal in international currencies through authorized branches.
The confusion was caused when some local and foreign media outlets misinterpreted the updated version of the central bank’s instructions in its Foreign Exchange Manual, thinking that the country’s currency exchange companies were being drive out of business and commercial banks were going to assume their role. 
“SBP is in process of revision of Foreign Exchange (FE) Manual in phased manner. In this respect, seven chapters (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 & 20) of FE Manual have been revised and circulated through FE Circular dated November 29, 2018, in the first phase. In phase II, three chapters 8, 9 & 11 have been revised through FE Circular No. 03 of 2019 dated July 16, 2019,” a statement issued by the central bank said. 
One of these revised chapters, 11, includes regulations on “Dealings in Foreign Currency Notes and Coins etc. by the Authorized Dealers (banks).”
“With respect to revised Chapter 11, it has come to our notice that there are some confusions/misinterpretations regarding Para 2 suggesting that SBP has allowed the banks to sell/purchase foreign currencies to/from public by amending the existing regulations,” the SBP said while clarifying that no such amendment had been made.
Currency dealers also said they were playing a vital role for the country’s economy "that cannot be downplayed."
“Banks were already authorized to undertake foreign exchange currency business through authorized branches, but they did not take interest in currency dealing which is evident from the fact that only a few of them established such branches,” Malik Bostan, president of the Forex Association of Pakistan, told Arab News on Monday.
Bostan added that “we are operating on meager profit that commercial banks can’t afford to make.”