Secretary criticised for saying Baloch ‘do not work’ when employed in projects

Updated January 24, 2019

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Senate body discusses bill for ensuring locals get 60pc of jobs in foreign investment projects. — File
Senate body discusses bill for ensuring locals get 60pc of jobs in foreign investment projects. — File

ISLAMABAD: A senator on Wednesday criticised remarks made by the secretary of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, who said the Baloch do not work when employed in projects.

“Because of this mindset in Islamabad, slogans of murdabad were heard a number of times in Balochistan, especially in Gwadar,” said Mir Mohammad Yousaf Badini, who is a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, during a meeting of the committee held at Parliament Lodges.

The committee was discussing a private member’s bill titled The Foreign Private Investments (Promotion and Protection) (Amendment) Bill, 2018 which was submitted by Senator Sherry Rehman and which suggests amendments to section IV of the Foreign Private Investment Act, 1976.

Senate body was discussing bill for ensuring locals get 60pc of jobs in foreign investment projects

She has said that section IV, which deals with conditions for foreign investments, should include that companies will give 60pc of the jobs to locals and the people of the province. Senator Rehman has also suggested making a database of labourers and skilled people so foreign investors will hire locals rather than bringing people to work from abroad. She said locals should also be appointed in Gwadar projects.

Secretary Parliamentary Affairs Aurangzeb Haque, who has served as the chief secretary of Balochistan, said that though he agrees with what was said, the locals are not right.

His remark angered Senator Badini who said: “You mean to say we do not work. This mindset in Islamabad has created problems”.

Senator Sherry Rehman also said that some provinces are angry that locals are not recruited in projects and that different countries have legislated to include 80pc of locals in foreign investment projects.

“India ensures that locals have the right technology and also includes in the conditions for joint ventures, the transfer of technology and skill training. Similar conditions were introduced for Vietnam just after the end of the war. Iraq also ensures the recruitment of locals. We should also do the same because otherwise, it would be difficult to introduce at a later stage,” she said.

Committee Chairperson Sassui Palijo said this is an important bill and that the time has come to introduce strong legislation to provide employment opportunities in investment projects. She said the bill was unanimously agreed on in the house and would provide ample opportunity for local labour to find jobs in projects being run via foreign investments. She said this was the right of the people of Pakistan and that parliament has to deliver.

Senator Sikander Mandhro said this issue has been neglected for long in various sectors including the exploration sector. He said the matter must be addressed urgently for the betterment of the common people.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan informed the committee that it is imperative to prepare skilled labour and that the prime minister is trying to bring foreign investment into the country.

The secretary Board of Investment said it would be appropriate to get suggestions from the relevant ministries including those of textile, industries, education and statistics so a draft can be prepared to benefit a large proportion of the country’s labour force.

The committee chairperson recommended that the chairman of the Board of Investment should brief the committee in its next meeting after which committee members can give their suggestions.

Considering the point of public importance regarding the stopping of finds for the National Institute of Blood Diseases, Karachi, Senator Mandhro said funds for poor patients with blood cancer and bone marrow illnesses have been stopped.

Ali Mohammad Khan told the meeting that a similar matter was discussed in the cabinet meeting and that the finance minister has ensured a supplementary grant for a number of projects will be provided. He said he will try to solve the problem in a fortnight.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2019