Emigration Bill 2020 under discussion in Senate Standing Committee Meeting

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SENATOR MANZOOR AHMED, CHAIRMAN SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE ON OVERSEAS PAKISTANIS AND HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT PRESIDING OVER A MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE AT PARLIAMENT HOUSE ISLAMABAD ON AUGUST 26, 2021.

Islamabad,   (Parliament Times) :   The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development was held here at Parliament House. The committee was chaired by the chairman committee Senator Manzoor Ahmed Kakar.

The meeting commenced with a detailed discussion on consideration of the bill titled “The Emigration (Amendment) Bill, 2020. Senator Shahadat Awan objected to the bill and said that passing the bill would violate the “Mustafa Impex”. He opposed the bill in the light of Mustafa Impex case. Awan remark that the bill has been lying dormant for five years. He suggested that the bill should be taken to the House, and whatever decision is taken there, we will abide by it. The chairman of the committee said that he did not want to vote on the bill to be further improved. The Chairman committee recessed discussion on the bill until the next meeting.

The Chairman Committee also raised complaints received with the Secretary Overseas Pakistanis regarding the Workers Welfare Fund. The Chairman Committee said that the provinces where the labourers work under the Workers Welfare Fund have many complaints. Secretary overseas Pakistani apprised the committee that Funds are scarce in Sindh and KPK due to lack of industries. He assured that arrears of workers in Balochistan, Sindh and KPK would be settled soon. The committee chairman said that all possible facilities should be provided to the workers and the poor. He underlined that there are problems in Workers Welfare Fund in Punjab, KP and Balochistan. Senator Shaheen Khalid Butt said that Overseas Pakistanis Commission should be formed in other provinces like Punjab. He also called for a detailed briefing from the team of Punjab Overseas Pakistanis Commission (OPC). The committee chairman observed that firm ownership should be needed in the provinces to form OPCs. Overseas Pakistanis officials informed that KPK has set up an OPC and is operational. Sindh also agreed in setting up an OPC in the province. The Chairman Committee said that the problems could be overcome to a great extent if OPCs were formed at the provincial level. Regarding the issues of pensioners, the Chairman Committee sought details from the Secretary Overseas Pakistani and Human Resource Development in the next meeting.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmed raised many issues faced by overseas Pakistanis. He said that despite all the prevailing hurdles and difficulties, in FY 2020-2021 year, overseas Pakistanis sent 29 billion Dollars in remittances to Pakistan, with an increase of 5 billion Dollars. Unfortunately, the Ministry has not given the status and respect they deserved. He said that out of 9 million overseas Pakistanis, 2 million belong to KPK.

He questioned that why tickets were sold at Rs. 60,000 to overseas Pakistani despite the fact that they were in dire need of some compensation. General Manager PIA responded that these tickets have a tax of Rs.10,000. He further added that not everyone was charged Rs.60,000, tickets to some overseas were sold at a minimal price. Senator Mushtaq Ahmed said that Overseas Pakistanis had given us so much profit, but when they had a hard time, PIA increased the fare. He said that OPF did not provide any facility to the overseas Pakistanis who went to Kabul, and nothing has been done to sort out the matter. He also questioned the Ministry regarding the number of dead bodies being repatriated to the country.

Talking about the problems faced by those Pakistanis who want to go abroad, Secretary Overseas Pakistanis said they are working with the NCOC to arrange a booster shot for those who want to go overseas. He said that we do not have overseas funds. He asserted that OPF had made arrangements to repatriate Pakistanis released from prisons in Saudi Arabia and also repatriated Pakistanis from China.

The Chairman Committee directed the Ministry to present written and satisfactory answers to all the questions asked by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed in the next meeting.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, Senator Keshoo Bai, Senator Khalida Ateeb, Senator Liaqat Khan Taraqai, Senator Faisal Vawda and Senator Shaheen Khalid Butt attended the meeting while Secretary Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, other officials of the Ministry and GM PIA also attended the meeting.