DOHA: Qatar Chamber, representative body of the private sector, yesterday strongly defended the sponsorship and exit permit systems and said they favour both the workers and the employers.
The Chamber reiterated it is all for retaining the above systems. “Exit permit is merely a clearance,” said the Vice-Chairman of the Chamber, Mohamed bin Ahmed Tawar Al Kuwari.
When told that New York-based Human Rights Watch is bitterly critical of sponsorship and exit permit rules and wants them removed, Al Kuwari quipped: “The countries that are asking us to comply with international human rights norms themselves need to repair their record on that front.”
Defending the sponsorship system, the official said an employer has the right to retain a worker because the latter signs a job contract.
“Moreover, an employer brings a worker from overseas, provides him hands-on training to do a specific job and makes him skillful, so he has the right to retain him.”
It is not right on the part of a foreign worker to ask for sponsorship change because he owes his job and skills to his employer, said Al Kuwari.
“What is the problem with exit permit? It is merely a clearance,” the Vice-Chairman said when told that the Human Rights Watch is severely critical of it. Sometimes there are delays in issuing exit permits and that is primarily due to administrative problems, he said. About salaries of semi-skilled and unskilled workers being low, the Chamber official said: “But the workers sign employment contracts and the emoluments are mentioned therein.”
Talking of substandard living conditions at labour accommodations, Al Kuwari said such criticisms are baseless because labour inspectors conduct regular raids on labour camps and the Labour Ministry does not issue work visas unless workers’ lodgings comply with specified standards.