‘1,300 overseas workers unable to leave for Qatar’
KUWAIT CITY, March 16: The number of Filipino workers in the Middle East continues to decline due to the extensive effects of coronavirus, in conjunction with the significant drop in oil prices; while the Philippine government is considering the return of hundreds of stranded Filipino workers in the Middle East after Kuwait and other Gulf countries imposed several restrictions on foreigners who travel as corona cases continue to rise and the Philippine labor secretary confirmed that 740 Filipinos heading to Kuwait have been affected by the travel restrictions, reports Al- Qabas daily quoting the Business Mirror website.
“Those who arrived in Kuwait have no problem, but those in Qatar and Dubai are not allowed to travel to Kuwait,” said Silvestre H. Bello. He continued, “The Kuwaiti government imposed travel restrictions because it would need seven days to purchase equipment to check passengers on their possible exposure to the coronavirus. The option of the Department of Labor and Employment is either to return Filipino workers abroad or wait until the embargo is lifted.”
Meanwhile, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Director Bernard Olalia revealed that the Philippines has already imposed travel restrictions, with President Rodrigo Duterte’s assurances that the government is ready to return Filipinos abroad who have been affected by the virus. In a related development, Bello said they are also ready to help Filipino overseas workers affected by the travel restrictions imposed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar; noting that 1,300 overseas workers in the Philippines were unable to leave for Qatar after it banned the entry of travelers.
According to Employment and Travel Advisor Manny Gislani, “The statistics show a steady decline in the number of Filipino workers abroad from 2017 till date due to the economic slowdown in Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.” He said the price of crude oil this year remained stable due to competition, which has faltered because of the widespread ‘corona’ disease which is sweeping the world now.
He added: “Crude oil prices decreased to the level of 2014 – at $40 a barrel, which further affects the economies of Middle East countries… Saudi Arabia recently reduced 30 percent of crude oil prices and increased production to 12 million barrels per day to offset the prices of Russia’s production of crude oil, which is now down to $30 a barrel.”
At the same time, he said the increasing number of travel bans imposed by some countries that are cautious about the spread of ‘corona’ may ultimately affect the deployment of Filipino workers abroad this year; noting that remittances of Filipino workers abroad will be “negligible” as the horrific disease continues to spread to many parts of the world.