Saudi, UAE offer Pakistan access to their labor market databases

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistan and Human Resource Development, Syed Zulifqar Abbas Bukhari Speaking at the Fifth Ministerial Consultation of Abu Dhabi Dialogue on regional migration and HRD on October 17, 2019. (Courtesy Zulfi Bukhari's Facebook)
Updated 19 October 2019

Saudi, UAE offer Pakistan access to their labor market databases

  • The move is aimed to boost the export of the Pakistani workforce to the two Gulf countries
  • The initiative will reduce fraud and exploitation of workers by middle-men

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have offered to open up their digital labor databases to Pakistan to boost the export of labor from Pakistan to both Gulf countries, Syed Zulifqar Abbas Bukhari, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistan and Human Resource Development, told Arab News from Dubai.
The offer was extended by UAE Minister of Human Resources and Emiratization (MOHRE), Nasser Bin Thani Al Hameli, during a meeting with Bukhari on the sidelines of the 5th ministerial session of Abu Dubai Dialogue held in Dubai last week.
“UAE offered linkage to its ‘virtual labor market database’, and Saudi Arabia has also extended an offer to Pakistan to send domestic workers to the Kingdom through new identity of the electronic home labor program, ‘Musaned,’” Bukhari said and added that the process would be complete in the next three months.
“Pakistan welcomed this, as this would help us in reducing unemployed Pakistanis in both the countries,” he said.
The initiative looks to provide Pakistan with up-to-date information about job opportunities in the labor market in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and gives valuable information regarding demand for different skills overseas.
Bukhari said the Saudi database also included new and other services developed to preserve the rights of the employer and the worker.
“Pakistan has agreed to connect this with its own digital portal,” he added.
Over 2.7 million Pakistanis live in Saudi Arabia and remit nearly $6 billion home every year. Additionally,1.6 million Pakistanis live in the UAE and are the second largest national group there, constituting 12.5% of the country’s total population.
“Pakistan wants to integrate its digital platform with UAE MOHRE to minimize the cost of recruitment and to make it fair, efficient, transparent, as Pakistan is digitally ready for this collaboration,” Bukhari said.
General Secretary of Pakistan Workers Foundation, Zahoor Awan, welcomed the move, saying it would result in “direct access” between workers and employers.
“Digitalization will help workers find jobs as employers will have direct access to them,” Awan told Arab News, and said the database would reduce the exploitation of workers by middle-men.
“The agents used to loot workers through tall claims about jobs in UAE but this step will lessen their troubles. The technology will provide digital information to employers about their availability and skills. They will contact them directly which will reduce fraud and exploitation,” he said.


Pakistan imports tomatoes from Iran to meet growing shortage at home

Updated 55 min 1 sec ago

Pakistan imports tomatoes from Iran to meet growing shortage at home

  • Says the US sanctions don’t apply on trade related to food items
  • The import will be for about four weeks to meet the shortage in local market, official says

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan government has allowed businessmen to import tomatoes from neighboring Iran to meet increasing demand at home and to control the skyrocketing price of the commodity in the local market.
“The tomatoes import from Iran is allowed for three to four weeks to meet the shortage,” Muhammad Ameer Sultan, Parliamentary Secretary for National Food Security and Research, told Arab News on Friday.
Tomato is one of the major staples in Pakistan and its recent shortage and resultant price hike in the market has fueled public protests and criticism of the government. This has prompted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government to allow import of the commodity from neighboring country which is otherwise struggling to discourage imports to bring down the ballooning trade and current account deficits.
Sultan said that the tomato crop arrival has been delayed in Sindh and Balochistan provinces due to cold weather while Punjab’s production has already hit the market. “This is a temporary shortage … the import from Iran will help bring down the commodity’s prices in the market,” he said.
He expected the imported tomatoes would reach Pakistani vegetables markets in the next few days. He also clarified that Pakistan had not been importing tomatoes from India since 2017 due to a ‘disease’ in the produce, which could harm the local crop seed.
“This is a misconception. We weren’t importing tomatoes from India even when the bilateral trade was open,” he said.
The tomatoes price shot up in the market in recent days owing to the acute shortage of the produce and it is being sold as high as Rs300 ($1.93) per kilogram in different parts of the country. The official price of one kilogram of tomatoes on average in major cities is calculated to be Rs164 ($1.05), according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
The government has not set any exact quota or quantity of tomatoes to be imported from Iran, the parliamentary secretary said, adding that the import would end automatically after the arrival of the new crop in the market by early December.
Iran has been under the US economic sanctions for its controversial nuclear program that has inhibited Pakistan and other countries to establish trade and economic relationship with the Islamic Republic. Islamabad therefore has no legal banking channel with Tehran for payments against any import or export. The volume of bilateral trade between the two countries stands around mere $400 million per annum.
“The US sanctions don’t apply on trade related to food items,” the parliamentary secretary said, “we have been doing barter trade with Iran for vegetables and fruits only.”