EXPORTING THE MANPOWER

The fresh export of 200,000 manpower would further push the remittances up by about $500 million in the first year

From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI, Islamabad
Aug 04 - 10 , 2003 

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad last week Federal Minister for Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis, Abdul Sattar Lalika told newsmen that the government has targeted to export 200,000 professionals, skilled and semi-skilled people to different traditional and non-traditional markets in North African and African countries.

He said that the purpose of manpower export was to contribute towards the poverty alleviation programme. "This export of manpower would bring relief to 200,000 families in the same way as the construction of four dams and two highways in different parts of Pakistan would bring employment and relief to 500,000 families".

He said the according to a conservative estimate, more than $4.5 billion, as compared to $3.1 billion received during 2002-03 has come to Pakistan from the expatriates during this year. The fresh export of 200,000 manpower would further push the remittances up by about $500 million in the first year. The minister claimed "people have faith and confidence in the economic policies of the government that have motivated them to send money to Pakistan. They are not only sending money but have also started investing in Pakistan".

Laleka said he had done his homework before setting the various targets such as earning through remittances and exporting manpower to different countries and was hopeful of "better than expected results". The irritants that had hampered employment opportunities for Pakistanis in countries such as Malaysia, Kuwait and few other countries had been sorted out and these countries are prepared to recruit large number of Pakistani labourers, trained manpower to different fields.

He referred to Malaysia and said a memorandum of understanding is to be signed either by the end of July or beginning of August on the issue of manpower export from Pakistan. "Export of manpower to Malaysia would begin after a pause of 11 years". An interval of 11 years in the export of manpower to Malaysia and to a few other countries was entirely due to the non-compliance of client's requirement, local laws, customs and disrespect to their traditions.

Laleka said, "all expatriates would have to abide by the laws of the land where they live and work. Social welfare attaches presently posted in 13 countries, would be monitoring their activities.

Later, Managing Director, Overseas Employment Corporation, while talking to the newsmen said that the manpower export accord with Malaysia will be signed in July end which will immediately provide job opportunities to over 10,000 persons. The demand for the skilled and educated manpower is high abroad, which would help reduce growing unemployment and earn valuable foreign exchange for the country.

He said a good demand of farm labourers, teachers, physicians, nurses, engineers computer operators, agriculture experts and animal husbandry experts is expected from Malaysia. The OEC Managing Director said that to expand the job opportunities, training courses would be started to produce an appropriate manpower and to raise the market value. "There is an unlimited demand for nurses in the United States but unfortunately our nurses are not trained according to the international standard," he said.

To overcome this drawback, in the short span, the Overseas Pakistani Foundation has launched a project for training of both male and female nurses and in the long run a school of nurses would be established. The National University of Sciences and Technology has allocated land for establishing the school and this project is in progress. In this school, the skill training, handling of the latest equipment, fluency in modern languages and preparation for the Commission of Graduates of Foreign Nursing School test, which is essential for jobs in foreign countries, would be provided, he added.

The National Training Bureau is also working under the Ministry of Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis, which conducts courses for training in various skills, the OEC chief said.

Responding to the query about the declining number of persons going abroad through OEC, he said, frequent visits of senior OEC officials are necessary to explore valuable jobs which is not in practice currently. "OEC is relying on its own resources and visits of OEC officials impose no financial burden on the Finance Ministry despite that approval for foreign visit is not granted to us," he said.

Iqbal Malik said their resources to contact international market depend on telephonic contact and by convincing the foreign delegations who visit Pakistan. "In such circumstances, we concentrate just on capturing the current clients," he elaborated.

About the current projects, he said, the lifting of a six year ban by Kuwait has opened doors for Pakistanis manpower and negotiations with them are going on as a good demand is also expected from that country. Regarding the growing unemployment of educated persons and the government's policy of rightsizing, he said, the government has limited resources and no investment is coming in the private sector which leads towards lack of job opportunities and the only way to counter this crisis is to encourage skilled manpower and explore new markets for them.