By Javed Iqbal, Special to Arab News
Publication Date: 
Tue, 2001-05-08 05:31

RIYADH, 8 May — The demand for Pakistani manpower in the Kingdom has witnessed a boost recently as the figures for year 2000 reach almost half as much again as those for the previous year. This was disclosed by Farhat Hussain, secretary to the Pakistani Ministry of Labor, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis in a press conference here.

Hussain, who, in his five-day itinerary, is to visit Jeddah and Madinah as well to meet with his compatriots, held extensive discussions with the Saudi deputy ministers of health and labor to discuss the feasibility of further cooperation in the manpower sector of both the states. He also met with the officials of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a number of local entrepreneurs.

“The Saudi Ministry of Health would like us to assist them in setting up various training programs in their health institutes,” said Hussain, adding that while responding  positively, he had also offered the services of Pakistani teachers of English for Saudi schools. “Additionally, we could set up high-tech vocational training programs for the Saudi students,” he said.

Pakistan, whose fiscal figures nose-dived after its detonation of the nuclear device, has had to depend on the remittances of its overseas workers. To boost its depleting foreign exchange reserves, the government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf is putting on offer various lucrative programs for overseas Pakistanis.

“We have decided that the insurance scheme for the overseas workers which formerly used to last only two years, will now run continually,” the secretary said, adding that one could benefit from the program and renew it every two years by paying a meager amount of 630 rupees. The total insurance figure would amount to 300,000 rupees.”

Likewise,” he stated, “an expatriate could get a monthly pension of 4,000 rupees after his retirement if he contributed only $30 per month for ten years.”

On the programs initiated by the government to specifically benefit overseas Pakistanis, Hussain said that the government had decided to apportion some land in every housing scheme to be solely allotted to the expatriate Pakistanis. Additionally, he mentioned, seats have been allocated for the children of overseas workers in various professional colleges.

Intensive studies have been conducted and Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA), in collaboration with the Investment Board, have on offer various small- and medium-sized industrial projects now,” he said.

Remittance figure from the overseas Pakistanis last year reached $ 1.1 billion, showing  an increase of 15 percent over that of the previous year. Of this amount, roughly 50 percent was the contribution of Pakistanis residing in the Kingdom, Hussain said.

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