Filipino group fears mass retrenchment of OFWs

Updated 26 January 2016
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Filipino group fears mass retrenchment of OFWs

RIYADH: A Filipino group has warned of mass retrenchment of overseas foreign workers (OFWs) in the Middle East and urged the Philippines government to take necessary measures to help these people upon their return to the country.
The warning, by Migrante-Middle East (M-ME), the Filipino group for migrants’ support, comes on the heels of the pink slip given to around 30 OFWs by a Saudi construction firm they had recently joined.
“We have been observing the current economic scenario and a sharp drop in oil prices in Saudi Arabia, which hosts more than a million of OFWs,” M-ME regional coordinator John Monterona told Arab News.
Monterona said the Saudi Arabian government has already undertaken economic reforms such as budget cuts and austerity measures. It has even increased the local oil prices by around 50 percent and is seriously considering imposing Value Added Tax (VAT) by the end of 2016, he said.
“Government projects, including infrastructure and the development of various economic cities, have also been affected. Some of these projects have been delayed and some have been temporarily stopped. Hence, many OFWs and expats from other countries working for private construction firms have received termination notices,” Monterona said.
According to him, at least 30 OFWs who were recently appointed by a construction firm were retrenched. “All are still under a three-month probationary period,” he said.
Monterona said: “The Philippines government should adopt short-term and long-term measures to assist the retrenched OFWs. Livelihood assistance loans and similar assistance packages must be made available to these workers, besides jobs,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Riyadh-based Filipino Expatriates Council for Justice, Peace and Order has expressed confidence that Saudi Arabia will handle pressing issues in a responsible manner. “We have full faith in the Kingdom’s peace initiatives, judicial proceedings and rulings, and protection of the country and its people,” it said.


Saudi civil aviation announces the opening of NEOM Bay airport

Updated 9 min 3 sec ago
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Saudi civil aviation announces the opening of NEOM Bay airport

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation announced on Tuesday the opening of Neom Bay Airport in the northern region of Sharma.
The authority said that the airport has been licensed and us ready to receive commercial flights starting next week, after the first phase of development work was completed and was registered by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) earlier with the code “NUM.”
At present, Neom Bay Airport will conduct regular flights to investors and employees of the Neom project.