Manmohan Singh arrives in Muscat

November 8th, 2008 - 10:07 pm ICT by ANI  

By Pankaj Chaudhry

Muscat, Nov 8 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was accorded a ceremonial guard of honour at the Royal Terminal of Oman international Airport.

Dr. Singh, who is on a two-day visit to Oman was greeted by the Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud bin Mohammed Al Said.

Tonight the Prime Minister will have a one-to-one meeting with Mohammad Al Said at the Cabinet Minister Building.

After that a delegation level meeting will also take place and in all likelihood some Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be signed.

According to the sources, at the delegation level meeting social security for the migrant labour and investment schedule would be discussed.

While on his way to Oman the Prime Minister had said that he would raise issues like the migrant labour problem and investment by Gulf countries in India on a priority basis during his visits to Oman and Qatar, as they merited attention in the wake of the current global meltdown.

In an informal chat with Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vyalar Ravi and Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed, the media was told that a MoU is to be signed to ensure that the minimum wage is pegged at between 250 to 300 dollars per month.

Besides this, they said that the government would also try to provide one mobile phone to each woman employee so that in times of trouble, they can contact the local embassy.

Another important item on the agenda is to set up a committee comprising of local labour and Indian Embassy officials. They will have periodical meetings. The government is also trying to have the payment of all employees directly transferred to their respective bank accounts.

On the investment front, the India-Oman Investment Fund is to be raised with 100 million dollars as seed money.

Oman also is interested in cooperating with India in the fertiliser sector.

Qatar is reportedly eager to have an investment of about four to five billion dollars, but the only hitch seems to be that it wants India to specifically identify the sector where Qatar should invest. India, however, is insisting on creating a fund first and identifying a specific sector thereafter.

Cooperation in the field of natural gas also seems to be a priority with India, and in this regard, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora will join Prime Minister Singh in Qatar, which has the worlds third largest reserve of oil and gas.

Dr. Singh is being accompanied by a high level delegation. In Oman, he will hold talks with the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos Bin Al-Sayed, and other leaders on various issues.

He was also be undertaking his first visit to Qatar.

During the visit, expansion of economic partnership, cooperation in the transport sector and joint ventures will figure prominently. Some MoUs are also expected to be signed relating to cultural exchanges between the two countries besides standardizing the commerce guidelines.

In Qatar, Dr. Singh will meet the Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, and other representatives on Sunday and the day after. They will discuss strengthening the mutually beneficial cooperative framework to realize the special vision for the bilateral relationship.

On the eve of his departure to Muscat, Dr. Singh had suggested that India could leverage the vast surplus funds in the Gulf region for its development needs in the backdrop of the current global financial crisis. (ANI)

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