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Posted On: 29 March 2013 11:51 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:12 pm

Govt urged to liberalise work visa policy

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Construction industry insiders say they anticipate the onset of a ‘real’ boom next year when the launch of mega development projects begins making an impact, but insist the government should liberalise its work visa policy to make things easier for them. Most of the visas issued to construction companies are for Nepalese and Sri Lankan workers, many of whom, taking undue advantage of the situation, have been demanding higher wages. Gone are the days when a semi-skilled Nepalese worker would agree to a monthly pay of QR700 to QR800. “They are now insisting on double that amount,” an industry insider told this newspaper yesterday. “No semi-skilled worker from Nepal is now willing to come here for a pay of less than QR1,200 or QR1,500,” a senior official from a large construction company said, asking not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue. He said he visited Nepal recently to recruit workers as part of his company’s plan to be ready with additional manpower, as a boom is expected to begin next year. “I was left shocked as the workers insisted on being paid up to QR1,500,” said the official. One of the reasons, according to sources in the manpower recruitment business, is literally an exodus of semi-skilled Nepalese workers to Malaysia and South Korea, since pay is quite high in those countries. Moreover, the majority of workers heading to South Korea and Malaysia are engaged in jobs related to interior fittings, so they are saved the hardships associated with open-air site work. As a result, not many Nepalese workers are willing to come to take up jobs here on lower salaries, say sources in the manpower recruitment circles. In the construction industry, semi-skilled workers from India are considered the best in terms of both efficiency and skills, but industry insiders say it is hard to get Indian visas. “If you ask for 100 Indian visas, you might get five. Maximum numbers of visas are issued for Nepalese and Sri Lankan workers. That is affecting our productivity,” said the source. “I can tell you this after being in the building industry here for a quarter century.” Besides, a semi-skilled Indian worker is available for up to QR1,200. “We, therefore, urge the government to liberalise its visa policy,” the source added.