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Mideast states look at common policy on foreign maids

Five countries in the Middle East have begun to discuss setting up a common policy on the employment of foreign maids. The move aims to prevent recruiters from charging exorbitant fees and minimize other problems linked to the employment of millions of foreign domestic workers from Southeast Asia and the Subcontinent. At the 45th session of the Arab Labour Conference held from April 8 to 15, representatives from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman agreed to set regulations on contracts, employment transfers and a minimum wage for foreign maids, The National reported. Hind Al Sabeeh, Kuwait’s minister of social affairs and labor, said the common policy aims to prevent recruitment agencies from charging job-seekers and to employers excessive fees. Currently, some domestic workers are charged over US$3,000 in their home countries in order get jobs in the Middle East. Nasser Al Hamli, the UAE’s Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, said the policy would have to fit in with various states which have policies to protect the rights of domestic workers. “Domestic workers constitute an important part of the temporary employment [sector] in the Gulf countries, which are keen to protect their labor rights through applicable laws and practices,” Al Hamli said. Al Hamli said the policy would also ensure that the employment process would be fair and transparent, for the safety of the domestic workers. (ASIA TIMES)

India heading for ‘day zero’ water as reservoirs shrink

As South Africa’s Cape Town begins its countdown to the fast approaching “day zero” water crisis when taps will completely run dry, a new satellite study warns four countries – India, Morocco, Iraq and Spain – of the same fate. According to the US-based World Resources Institute, the developers of a new satellite which monitors the world’s 500,000 dams, as a result of fast depleting reservoirs, these four countries could be next in line to experience a “day zero” water crisis. Ahead of the peak summer months, the country could face a severe water crisis, according to the latest data from the meteorological department. As many as 404 districts will face mild to extremely dry conditions due to poor rainfall since October 2017, the Times of India reported. While most parts of the country experience water shortages during summers, what has worsened the situation this year is the poor winter rainfall. According to the meteorological department’s data, India faced a 63% rain deficit during January and February this year and 31% from March to April 11. The standardized precipitation index (SPI) data, a measure to determine drought, revealed that from January to March, about 472 districts experienced mild to extremely dry conditions, with 153 districts in the severe to extremely dry category. Most of these districts are in the north, central and west of India, including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan states. Few places in the east, particularly in Bihar and Jharkhand, have been classed in the same category. However, in the south the coastal state of Tamil Nadu has faced its worst drought in 140 years. A report by the World Resources Institute said a conflict between the states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh had arisen over the release of water from the Narmada river and the Indira Sagar reservoir, where levels had fallen to 33% lower than average. Also, last month the Gujarat state government stopped the water supply for irrigation and urged farmers to not plant crops. The state government said the remaining water would be used only for drinking purposes. India is also the world’s largest user of groundwater, accounting for about 25% of the world’s extracted water from below ground. Depleting groundwater levels is a major cause of water shortages in India. In some places the decline is more than one meter per year and Gujarat is a major exploiter, which uses aquifers for domestic, irrigation and industrial purposes. The state has already consumed 68% of its groundwater. According to a Times of India report, there has been a 70% drop in the availability of water in the past 60 years. By 2050, the country will have 22% of its present daily per capita water. (ASIA TIMES)

The Belt and Road

China to invest 800 mln USD in Abu Dhabi B&R project

Twelve Chinese companies will invest more than 800 million US dollars in a Belt and Road project in Abu Dhabi, creating more than 2,000 jobs. Agreements have been signed between the companies, 10 of which are from east China's Jiangsu Province, with the Jiangsu Provincial Overseas Cooperation and Investment Company (JOCIC), which is in charge of developing 2.2 square kilometers of land at the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad). China will build the industrial cooperation demonstration park within Kizad to boost practical cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. The provincial government of Jiangsu said it will build the industrial park into a landmark of China's Belt and Road Initiative, attracting companies from both inside and outside the province. Construction of the industrial park started in January. (ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


Li praises foreigners for help in opening-up

China will continue with supply-side structural reform and produce more appealing policies to attract foreign professionals to work here in an enhanced effort at opening-up further in 2018, Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday. "With our country's door to the world opening even wider, we will produce more appealing policies to attract foreign talents to work in China and provide more convenience for your lives here," Li told a gathering of outstanding foreign experts working in China. Ten days ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year, Li attended the annual event in the Great Hall of the People to send greetings and collect wisdom from more than 60 scholars and business leaders on achieving high-quality development, smart manufacturing and improving the quality of higher education. Li expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Chinese government to foreign experts in China for their contribution to the country's progress of modernization and reform. Noting that 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up policy, Li said the government will fully implement the five to 10 year visa policy for foreign experts and issue more favorable policies for foreigners working in China, including easing terms of applications for permanent residency. He said that under the Communist Party of China's strong leadership, with General Secretary Xi Jinping as the core, China's economy remained in good health in 2017, with a better than expected annual growth rate of 6.9 percent, the first acceleration in annual growth in seven years, contributing to more than 30 percent of the world's economic growth. "The Chinese economy will not face drastic fluctuation, as its economic structure has been remarkably improved with consumption leading its growth in the past several years," Li said, ruling out the possibility of a hard landing. The government will comprehensively deepen reform while preparing for all kinds of risks this year, he said. He encouraged experts from overseas to continue to actively participate in China's growth in innovation and industrial upgrading, adding that their ideas will be more than welcomed. Edmund S. Phelps, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics and dean of New Huadu Business School in Fujian province, told Li at the meeting that he has just received the new 10-year visa for foreign experts. "It is encouraging to see China creating an increasingly conducive environment for entrepreneurship and innovation," he said. "And I think this open policy will bring more foreign talents to China to showcase their expertise and to join in China's development." John Hopcroft, a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, shared his thoughts with the premier on improving the evaluation system of China's higher education. In January, China's State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs announced easier visa permits for foreign professionals and high-skilled workers who qualified among efforts to bridge the country's gap in foreign experts, with the expiration date of the visa extended to five to 10 years after issuance, with multiple entries and 180-day-stays for a single entry. (CHINA DAILY)

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