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Oman government studying amnesty for illegal workers

There seems to be light at the end of a dark tunnel for blue-collar workers stuck in Oman without valid papers even as the Manpower Ministry relentlessly continues its crackdown on illegal workers in the country.

According to reliable sources, the government machinery has been set in motion to study the possibility of giving these illegal workers an exit out of the country without paying fines or at least some concession.

“That [waiving fines] is the best way out to allow illegal workers to exit and regularise the labour market,” reckons Indian Ambassador to Oman, Anil Wadhwa.

He told Gulf News that the mission was in the process of registering Indian expatriate workers without any legal papers.

The Indian envoy is in the process of meeting senior government officials with a proposal to waive fines of the workers, who wish to return home.

“I have had a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said Wadhwa, who is also expected to meet the Manpower Minister on the subject.

On the other hand, a group of volunteers lead by Indian Social Club’s Welfare Secretary, P.M. Jabir are camping at the Indian embassy to register Indian workers without legal papers.

“So far 11,000 have registered and we expect the number to go over 25,000,” Jabir told Gulf News.

Wadhwa appealed to workers without proper papers to approach the embassy and register as there has been no deadline set for the registering.

Since last October, the Manpower Ministry in Oman, in order to regularise the labour market, started a crackdown against people working without valid papers or doing jobs not specified in their work permit.

In Oman, a large workforce, mostly blue-collar workers, work on a freelance basis after paying yearly fees to an Omani sponsor for providing visas but, under a new law, even the sponsor faces a fine and prison term.

There is no organised registration of illegal workers at the embassies of the other Asian countries. However, the Manpower Ministry officials believe that if 25,000 Indians are seeking waivers for exit then the number of such illegal workers from the other Asian countries could be much higher.

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