Qatar to ease visas for Pakistanis

More applications are expected to succeed as country bids to tackle acute labour shortage in the construction sector.

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By  Conrad Egbert Published  January 14, 2006

Qatar is expected to relax its visa restrictions on Pakistani nationals looking for work in the construction sector in a bid to tackle the acute shortage of workers in the country. While few details of the plan have emerged, the Embassy of Pakistan in Qatar confirmed that visa rules would be relaxed to allow more workers into the country. Hashim Popalzai, community welfare attaché at the Embassy of Pakistan in Qatar, said: “If the number of visas for Pakistani nationals allowed earlier, for example, were 50, then only 25 or so would get approved. The relaxation in the rules means that maybe 40 or all 50 visas will now be approved.” No official announcement has been made about the planned relaxation of visa rules by the Qatari authorities, but Pakistani diplomatic sources in the country are expecting one soon. The proposed changes are the latest concessions to be made by the government in response to complaints from the local construction industry. Restrictions on building material imports, problems with hiring labour and the heavily bureaucratic nature of the industry in Qatar has hit productivity on many projects throughout the country. Last year, the Public Works Authority (Ashgal) introduced a raft of reforms aimed at simplifying contract forms and relaxing import restrictions of construction machinery. The move to lift quotas covering the employment of foreign construction labour represents the latest attempt by the government to prevent projects being stalled by worker shortages. The authority also slashed payment terms for contractors from 90 days to 45 days. Up until now, contractors hoping to win work had to ensure that their workforce did not consist of nationalities likely to encounter visa-related problems.

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