India, Oman to boost trade, check human trafficking (Second Lead)

November 9th, 2008 - 12:00 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghMuscat, Nov 8 (IANS) India and Oman Saturday signed two major agreements to boost bilateral investment and to check human trafficking as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh began a three-day tour of the Gulf that will also take him to Qatar.India’s State Bank of India (SBI) and the State General Reserve Fund of the Sultanate of Oman signed the first agreement to set up the India-Oman Joint Investment Fund.

The new fund will be set up with an initial seed capital of $100 million, which will be expandable to $1.5 billion, said officials accompanying the prime minister.

The fund will identify projects in infrastructure, health, tourism, telecom and urban infrastructure in both countries.

The other agreement on manpower has been designed to check illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

Minster for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and Oman’s Minister for Manpower Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Abdullah Al Bakri signed the agreement.

According to officials, a committee comprising at least three members will be set up to ensure the implementation of the agreement.

Among other things, the committee will interpret the terms of the MoU in case of a dispute and exchange information on illegal recruitment and illegal trafficking.

It will meet alternatively in India and Oman at least once a year.

The MoU stipulates that terms and conditions of employment in Oman shall be defined by an individual employment contract between the employee and the employer and authenticated by Oman’s ministry of manpower.

Unlike in other Gulf nations where Indians form a vast majority of the labour workforce in the construction industry, the profile of the expatriate Indian community in Oman is very different.

At 500,000, Indians form the largest expatriate community in Oman.

Coming from all parts of India, they include skilled workers and technicians and professionals such as doctors, engineers, bankers, finance experts and senior management officers in the private sector.

A third agreement that was originally scheduled on cooperation between foreign service training institutes of the two countries could not be signed as officials from both sides were yet to finalise the modalities.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Oman’s Deputy Prime Minister Sayyid Fahd Bin Mahmoud Al Said held a meeting at the Palace of the Cabinet where the two leaders held discussions on a range of issues of common interest.

The Omani leader hosted a state banquet in honour of the visiting dignitary.

Earlier, the prime minister arrived in Muscat in the afternoon and was received at the airport by the Omani deputy premier followed by a guard of honour.

Singh is scheduled to meet Oman’s ruler Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said Sunday before departing for Qatar on the second and final leg of the tour.

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