Qatar’s move to resume the process of issuing labour contract approvals will not only give confidence to the private sector in taking up projects but also address the key issue of shortage; even as it sought more clarity, including on the opening of Qatar Visa Centers (QVCs) in various global jurisdictions.
The MADLSA (Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs) on Wednesday said it will resume the process of issuing labour recruitment approvals, which had been temporarily suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, from November 15. It will issue recruitment approvals according to the actual needs of companies and establishment.
Terming the MADLSA’s move as a right step in the right direction, Jayaraj Kaniyattu Ramakrishnan, president of the Kerala Business Forum (KBF), said “the government has given us the confidence in taking up the projects.”
Although the market has opened up and there are more projects in the offing, he said the private sector was unable to respond to the increasing demand mainly due to the labour shortage.
But it (the latest move of resumption of the process of issuing labour contract approvals) will now help the businesses to respond dynamically and it has been possible because the government could rightly sense and gauge the pulse of the private sector," he said, adding the private businesses have always been ready to follow and comply with the various protocols, including that of the pandemic.
“Now with (labour) shortage being addressed, the works on projects could be fastened,” said Jayaraj, who is also the regional manager of Techno Steel.
However, the KBF president sought to know whether the companies, which already had approvals to bring labour (before the pandemic) but had not utilised fully, need to apply afresh and also on the opening of the QVCs.
Moreover, clarity was also sought on whether the new move includes approval to project and other short term visas, considering that there has been no clarity on the opening of QVCs.
In the last six months, there has been shortage of manpower due to the Covid-19 restrictions, which led to spiraling of the labour costs, which according to some estimates have gone up more than 50% in the unskilled blue-collar jobs.
Firoz Salam, the country manager of Sarens Gulf, a leading heavy equipment rental company, said the MADLSA move is the first step towards normalisation in the post Covid-19 new normal.
“It will greatly help in the labour mobilisation and timely completion of the projects, given the tight schedule,” he said.
The official said he would wait for more details to emerge, especially on the opening of QVCs, which are the focal point in the labour supply chain.
A top official of a contracting company said there are credible signs of buoyancy returning in the Qatar’s multi-billion dollar project market, especially considering the works in the free zones and special economic zones; but the issue has been shortage of labour across verticals. The move by the government would greatly help in the return of those people, who had lost jobs as part of manpower rationalisation.