Corruption allegation irks cabinet

Bureau DG says no such information has been shared to date


Zafar Bhutta September 23, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting of federal cabinet in Islamabad. PHOTO: PID/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The cabinet has expressed serious concern over the alleged corruption in the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment.

Sources told The Express Tribune that during discussion in a recent meeting of the cabinet, its members raised grave concern over the performance of Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment, which included alleged financial corruption.

While acknowledging the need for reforms in the organisation, the secretary of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Division called for preparing a report in this regard and sending it to Prime Minister’s Office.

Overseas Employment Corporation (OEC) is a government-owned recruiting agency established to process only government-to-government demands.

However, its scope has widened and now OEC deals with the private sector as well with full use of government sources including the special services of community welfare attaches (CWAs).

All Overseas Employment Promoters (OEPs) are tasked to promote emigration of Pakistani citizens through legal channels.

OEC promotes emigration only for the sake of its own business interests and has never shared any information about the availability of foreign jobs to other OEPs.

Workers bearing running expenditures of the government-owned recruiting agency are not getting any benefit against the fee.

Sources said that poor workers were paying OEC while it made no efforts to help them secure a job. The fund is not being utilised for the promotion of emigration.

There is also conflict of interest as on the one hand the director general of the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment is running the regulatory authority of recruiting agencies while on the other hand, he is also the managing director of OEC.

This conflict of interest is giving discriminatory benefits to OEC and the remaining recruiting agencies are being deprived of fair competition.

Despite getting all favours from the government, the performance of OEC remains far poorer than hundreds of recruiting agencies in the private sector, sources said.

Due to this reason, the cabinet has pointed to the poor performance of Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment and has also alleged financial corruption.

The Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment is an attached department of the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development.

Under Section 5(1) of the Emigration Ordinance 1979, the federal government appointed protector of emigrants in the Protectorate Offices of the Bureau of Emigration.

The proposals for transfer/ appointment of officers of Bureau of Emigration as protector of emigrants under Section 5(1) of the Emigration Ordinance 1979 were submitted to the cabinet for approval.

The federal cabinet, in its decision dated May 7, 2019, directed all ministries and divisions to make necessary amendments in the respective rules to delegate the authority of appointment of officers concerned from the federal cabinet to the appropriate authorities.

The case for amendment to the Emigration Ordinance 1979 was under process in the Senate Secretariat.

Responding to the allegations, the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment director general told The Express Tribune that the additional charge of managing director of OEC was assigned to him by the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development and it is covered under the SECP Act xix, 2017, Section 187(1).

“It is further informed that work nature of bureau and OEC is different as the bureau is acting as a regulating authority for overseas employment and elaborating new labour markets for Pakistani manpower in private sector and welfare of Pakistani workers,” he said.

“On the other hand, OEC’s mandate is manpower export promotion as per Emigration Ordinance 1979.”

With regard to the allegation of financial corruption, he said no such information has been shared to date.

He called for providing the minutes of meeting or briefing to any cabinet meeting in which it was pointed out by the cabinet that the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment or any officer/official of the bureau was involved in corruption/malpractices.

Talking about the performance of the Bureau of Emigration in the recent past, he said that it deployed the “Registration of Intending Emigrants via Biometric Verification System linked with NADRA” to ensure transparency in the registration process and curb malpractices.

Moreover, the mandatory NICOP condition for registration was abolished with effect from October 2018.

The ministry began uploading foreign jobs to facilitate intending emigrants, data was provided to OEC for online linkage for match-making of foreign jobs and data of trained job-seekers, one-window fee collection desks were established in coordination with the National Bank of Pakistan to facilitate the emigrants.

Besides, payment of Rs1.4 billion as death/disability compensation and insurance coverage was enhanced to five years against one-time premium of Rs2,500.

Qatar visa centres at Islamabad and Karachi were established for facilitation and zero tolerance policy with respect to emigrants’ complaints was adopted.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2021.

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