Accountancy Forum

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A welfare fund and an insurance scheme for Indian workers in the Gulf will top a key meeting by Indian Ambassador to the Guld to be held in New Delhi. A welfare fund to help those in distress is one of the projects. The Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry recently donated huge amounts to NGOs working in the middle for protection of its workers right. The existing insurance scheme Pravasi Bharatiya Brima Yojana, now available to Indians on normal premium less than Rs. 200 will be enhanced. It gives coverage against death, disability and hospitalization.

Pakistan was the first who introduced the concept of immigrants insurance for its nationals working abroad. This was such a good brain child of Pakistan that I do remember the Philippines government then officially requested the Pakistan to help them study this scheme for introducing for their nationals. The scheme was perhaps the only single deed every done for real interest of Overseas Pakistanis. Initially its premium was Rs. 300/- once in two years. The State Life Immigrants Police covered death, injuries, disability etc upto Rs. 200,000/-. The premium was later increased the last known to me at Rs. 600/- which still was a very reasonable and cheap. Any OP working abroad could get this by just simply filling up the State Life Form and a cheque. Working abroad not merely I myself continued this policy for more than 10 years but also I do remember forcibly got many illiterate and semi literate and even highly educated ones to subscribes this policy. Some of my colleagues then also got their working wives covered under separate individual policies. Seeing my interest during my one visit to State Life the concerned Executive not merely appreciated my so much interest in welfare of labour class making them aware of this policy for their benefit even offered me to become officially an agent when State Life will give me commission which I declined.

Then cam our later mid 90s era when everything for our rulers and authorities mattered was money, money, money. To meet their increasing Umra trips, free loading PIA, Luxury hostelling, political appointments, heavy perks etc the policy was adopted to pull from the pockets of public under different labels rather than increasing production. Just to earn more money a condition was prescribed that only those could get this insurance who go abroad after paying and registering with the Protector of Immigrants. When once during such a leisure trip amongst the audience I questioned the then visiting Secretary Labour and DG Immigration that there was no written law prescribing that policy can be issued only to those who are registered with Protector of Immigrants he could only tell me there was a law but which Law he never told me. Since 4-5 years my query on the subject is lying with Ministry of Law and Justice for true interpretation of the rule, the Ministry is sitting tight with no progress on my query. When I approached the State Life they informed me they have no objection in issuance of Policy as was the practice in the past but they have been stopped by the Protector of Immigrant. This move was nothing but only and only force the workers abroad to get registration on a payment of Rs. 2000 to Rs. 3000/- with Protector of Immigrants for a non-existence protection. NADRA a few years back introduced a similar money minting scheme namely separate national identity cards for Overseas Pakistanis. The first and the very first reason given was that foreign authorities can not read Pakistani Urdu ID Card hence a need for separate English Card. The fact is in foreign countries no one ever demands one’s national ID Card as one’s identity universally is his Passport. I remained 26 years abroad during all this never the foreign authority ever asked me to produce my Pakistani ID Card Urdu or English. Likewise in those 26 years never in Pakistan any Bank, insurance, Passport Office asked me to produce my foreign Arabic language ID Card. Just was for a Rs. 2000 to Rs. 4000 per head and that without any explicit written law such a benefiting scheme which was really a worth product for poor illiterate and semi literate workers in case of unfortunate moments was murdered. The Philippines government covered medical treatment for parents in Philippines.

Amongst a very few fortunately still good but gradually diminishing organizations, the Account Committee of the National Assembly some three our years back observed that the Ministry Labour Manpower & Overseas Pakistan, Overseas Pakistanis Foundation and the Government have no interest with the Overseas Pakistanis whereas the Indian Government had introduced a number of welfare schemes for its workers abroad. In the books theoretically and in the "poetry" style there might be and in fact are many many incentives and schemes for Pakistanis working abroad like free baggage, VIP treatment on arrival at airports, admissions in colleges etc but practical worth of all is same as senior citizens under Ch. Shujat package are enjoying wonderful facilities. The true fact is the only practical facility these Pakistanis working abroad have is a Rs. 400 incentive per year who send Rs. 150,000 a year through legal channel i.e. a free passport worth Rs. 2000 once in five years.