Nov 22, 2016, 11:58 AM
The members of the National Assembly meeting in Banjul on Wednesday ratified the agreement between the governments of the Gambia and the State of Qatar concerning the regulation of manpower employment in the State of Qatar.
The Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, Abdou Kolley, laid the agreement before deputies.
In moving the motion for ratification before parliamentarians, Minister Kolley stated that the agreement will enable Qatari companies and employers who desire to employ Gambian workers to make their requests through their government, which will forward such request to the Gambia government.
However, he was quick to add that the signing and ratification of this agreement does not open the gate for automatic migration to the State of Qatar.
He said upon receipt of such requests, the Government of the Gambia through the Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment will take all necessary measures to identify the required numbers, and facilitate all administrative arrangements for their departure to the State of Qatar.
"As the name of the Agreement implies, it is meant to regulate and formalise the recruitment of Gambian workers by Qatari employers. As and when Qatari employers need workers from the Gambia, they will forward their requests indicating the number of workers, the qualifications and/or skills required, and other conditions of service.
It is only then that Gambians that are interested and meet the requirements will be identified and sent to Qatar," he declared.
He revealed that the said agreement was signed in Doha by the two parties, on May 5th 2010 during the official visit to the State of Qatar by President Yahya Jammeh.
According to the minister, the governments of the Gambia and the State of Qatar have enjoyed very good relations for many years now.
He added that there already exist between the two countries several agreements aimed at further cementing the ties that bound the two.
Among these agreements, he went on, are the framework agreement on economic, commercial and technical co-operation, the agreement on reciprocal protection of investments and a memorandum of understanding between the two foreign ministries.
"The agreement before you honourable members, on the Regulation of Gambian Manpower in the State of Qatar, was signed in the same spirit in mind," he added.
"We all appreciate the significant role that remittances play in our economy. Consequently, upon coming into force of this agreement, my Ministry in collaboration with our Embassy in the State of Qatar will intensify contacts with the Qatari Government to ensure that the agreement comes into fruition for the benefit of Gambians who may wish to avail themselves of this opportunity.
"This follow up will also be intensified through the joint committee to be established for monitoring the implementation of the provisions of this Agreement as provided therein."
In seconding the motion, Hon. Adama Cham member for Kombo North said that this was a well-detailed agreement, which is of great interest to the Gambian people, and should be given the blessing it deserves. The MP, therefore, called on his colleagues to consider and ratify the agreement.
Several members namely, Cherno Cham, Paul L. Mendy, Seedy Njie, Mama Kandeh, Kebba Gaye, and Sainey Jaiteh echoed the same view.
However, while expressing similar sentiments, other members namely, Momodou L. Sanneh, the minority leader, Ensa Saidykhan, Babucarr Nyang, Babanding KK Daffeh, Bekai Camara and Sidia Jatta were all of the view that the labour laws of the State of Qatar should be well understood before approving the agreement.
They also highlighted the fact that great care must be given to the type of manpower to be sent to Qatar, with some expressing fear that the country might suffer from a "brain drain", when able and skilled personnel are sent to Qatar.