DUBAI: Indian Ambassador M. K. Lokesh promised his countrymen no "hiccup" in services and a 25 per cent reduction in passport and visa service charges."This has become possible with the new out-sourcing company contracted to conduct the job," he told a new conference yesterday.
Indian embassy ended its contract with Empost and new Dubai-based company, BLS International, will take over its out-sourcing job of passport and visa services.He did not elaborate why the contract was not renewed with Empost. The envoy said that the location of the new designated centres will be announced before the new company starts offering the services on April 6.
An Empost staffer said it presently charges Dh202 for renewal of passport and Dh240 for a tourist visa.The Empost centres receive thousands of applications for various passport and visa services and employees told Gulf News they did not know what will happen to their jobs when the contract with the missions ends.
The ambassador promised that a website offering details of the new locations will be up and running in the first week of April.
BLS International offers similar services for Indian expatriates in Kuwait. The missions were forced to out-source the job in 2009 as they were swamped earlier and could not manage the huge number of applications. At one point the consulate alone was handling 200,000 passports and 63,000 visas every year.
The ambassador said the embassy will not attest any labour contract unless it complies with the minimum wages rules issued in Indian for workers outside the country. "Naturally, we cannot enforce the new minimum wages announced for Indian skilled and unskilled workers in the UAE."He said the embassy will bring up the issue with the Ministry of Labour if violation to the rules were discovered. The new wages range from Dh950 for cleaners and office boys to Dh1,400 for skilled workers.
The minimum wage for maids set in 2008 as Dh1,100 has not changed.A new Indian Workers Resource Centre will be set up in Abu Dhabi in weeks time.The huge ransom demands by Somali pirates for Indian sailors is a case that has "consumed" the consulate for months, said Consul General Sanjay Verma.
Pirates had hijacked the ship, owned by Dubai-based Azal Shipping last March in the Gulf of Aden. On board were six Indian crew members. The shipping firm has reportedly stopped the negotiations with the pirates and family members of the crew are desperately seeking help from the consulate. The consul general said the media hype was not helping and called for more to be done on the international level.