Mar 03, 2020: Pakistani workers abroad will start getting annuity in future as the present government is moving forward to materialize a plan which will ensure their inclusion in Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) pension scheme.
“It is first time in the history of Pakistan that a government will be launching a pension scheme for Pakistani expats under the EOBI pension fund,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Overseas Pakistanis Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari told the Standing Committee of National Assembly on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development.
The informal labour of country would also be included in the said plan, the SAPM apprised the committee, which met here with Sheikh Fayaz ud Din in the chair.
“It will be a major breakthrough as we are moving towards the national pension fund which will cover domestic labourers, brick kiln workers, freelance journalists and others,” he maintained while highlighting the government’s social security initiatives for the overseas Pakistanis and the country's labourers.
Zulfikar Bukhari said the expatriates’ inclusion in the Sehat Sahulat Programme was also on the cards as a summary had been moved to the federal cabinet for providing them the Sehat Insaf Cards under the Ehsaas project.
Member of National Assembly (MNA) Syed Javed Husnain underlined the need for involvement of local politicians in short listing the deserving Pakistani expats for the Sehat Sahulat Programme and the EOBI pension scheme.
Highlighting the plight of Pakistani labourers residing in the labour camps of the Middle East countries, MNA Zahra Wadood Fatemi urged the government to take initiatives for their facilitation abroad.
Zulfikar Bukhari said he was aware of the issue and had taken up the matter with authorities concerned in the Middle East for ensuring provision of better accommodation to the Pakistani workers.
“I am the first minister of overseas Pakistanis who has visited the labour camps of Pakistani workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to hear their grievances.”
He said the government had approached the departments concerned in the UAE and ensured cancellation of 30 foreign companies’ licenses, which could not provide agreed facilities to the expats.
The draft of first-ever national emigration policy was also presented before the committee to get its approval.
A senior officer of ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development apprised the body that the draft had already been sent to the concerned committee of Senate.
She said the policy would be forwarded to the federal cabinet after getting approval from the parliamentary committees on Overseas Pakistanis.
To a question from a MNA, she said unfortunately, the emigration policy could not be formulated since inception of Pakistan despite two abortive attempts in 2008 and 2014, respectively.
However, this time a comprehensive policy was drafted after holding extensive consultation with the relevant stakeholders from the public and private sectors, she added.
Highlighting the salient feature of policy, she said it envisaged safe, orderly and regular emigration, welfare services for Pakistani expats, involvement of Pakistani Diaspora in policy making, signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with foreign countries for social protection of workers, exploration of new markets, contract enforcement and many other features.
After approval of the emigration policy, a high-level committee would also be formed to ensure its implementation, the officer said while responding to a query raised by MNA Zahra Wadood.
The Chairman committee asked the members to give their input on the policy in its next meeting.
The committee meeting was also attended by Mahreen Razzak Bhutto, Zulfikar Ali Khan Dullah, Aurangzeb Khichi, Sobia Kamal Khan and others.