Over 100,000 potential overseas job losses for Pakistanis due to COVID

Over 100,000 potential overseas job losses for Pakistanis due to COVID

KARACHI: The official estimates of Bureau of Immigration and Overseas Employment (BEOE) revealed that over 100,000 overseas job for which the recruitment process was going on in Pakistan, was disrupted due to COVID and is not going to recover unless the recruiting projects are revived.

The bureau categorizes this category as a potential loss, according to a report of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) released on Wednesday.

According to the official estimates of BEOE, more than 8.8 million Pakistanis were living abroad as of December 2017. Of these, 54 percent resided in the Gulf region, and the rest in other destinations, including Europe, UK, US, Canada, and Australia.

Furthermore, during the last three years, around 1.7 million people left for different destinations, of which around 98 percent proceeded for employment in the Gulf region and only a small fraction went to acquire permanent residency in high-income countries.

During the Covid-19 crisis, BEOE records reveal multiple channels of potential job losses for migrant Pakistanis.

Around 50,000 Pakistani migrants faced layoffs in different countries. These jobs may not be recovered in the short term and are thus extremely vulnerable.

Around 60,000 Pakistanis were recruited for overseas work, but could not proceed abroad due to travel restrictions and suspension of flight operations. The Bureau also categorizes these jobs as extremely vulnerable.

In addition to these, 50,000 emigrants (Azaad Visa excluded) returned on paid/unpaid leaves as of June 2020. These workers have not been laid off, but their job continuation entails risk.

For most of the returning workers, the lockdowns resulted in permanent cessation of income along with the loss of legal status and end of accommodation and health benefits associated with employment. In case of forced dismissals, workers also did not receive compensation, and other dues and therefore found it difficult to arrange travel expenses on their own.

The recent figure of stranded Pakistanis in different destinations is highly skewed towards the Gulf region with more than 91 percent in only two countries, i.e., Saudi Arabia and the UAE.