Don’t panic over Saudi Arabia situation: Chandy

Thiruvananthapuram, March 30 (IANS) Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy Saturday said that given the diplomatic and trade relations with Saudi Arabia, people from the state in that country and their kin back home have little cause for worry.

“At the moment, there is no cause for panic over the labour issues in Saudi Arabia. We are confident that on account of the excellent diplomatic and trade relations that we have with Saudi Arabia, things can be sorted out,” Chandy told reporters at a hurriedly called press conference.

Chandy is leaving for Delhi on Tuesday to brief Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the external affairs ministry on the new developments in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has started to implement a new labour law that came into effect November last, and specifies that every business establishment should have a certain percentage of Saudi nationals.

“We are working out schemes, and all assistance will be provided to those people who have to return in the light of the new policy there,” Chandy said.

According to the annual report of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Saudi Arabia continues to be a desired destination among low- and semi-skilled workers from India, attracting 289,297 people in 2011.

In 2011, 2.28 million Keralites were working abroad. The number was 2.19 million in 2008, 1.84 million in 2003 and 1.36 million in 1998.

Meanwhile, opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist has said that the government had not planned in advance, despite being aware of the new policy that took effect six months ago.

“This government has been sleeping over this issue and they never took any positive steps to come to the help of the workers who would have to return all of a sudden,” said a CPI-M leader.

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