Jamaica inks deal to pre-screen immigrants from India

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The government of Jamaica has entered into an agreement with the government of India to set up a pre-screening program for persons seeking work in the tropical island nation. There have been serious concerns in allowing any worker into such a small, economically isolated population. All such nations have to be very careful about who they allow in so as not to disrupt their economy and employment possibilities for current citizens and residents.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Derrick Kellier, has made arrangements with the Indian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Ambassador K.L. Agrawal, in the pre-screening process for prospective work permit applicants from India.

The minister got the commitment from the high commissioner during a meeting on Tuesday at the ministry's North Street office in Kingston, when he discussed the Jamaica work permit system and the situation of Indian nationals working in Jamaica.

According to a statement from the Labour Ministry, Mr. Kellier underlined the historic ties between Jamaica and India and the numerous bilateral agreements between both countries, and the importance of enforcing the provisions of the Foreign National and Commonwealth Citizens Act in order to protect Jamaican workers.

"His Excellency Agrawal promised to cooperate with the ministry in ensuring that only skilled persons were granted work permits for jobs for which there are no eligible applicants from the Jamaican workforce," the statement said.

In recent months, Mr. Kellier had come under harsh criticism by the Opposition on the number of work permits granted to foreign workers. Opposition Spokesman on Labour, Rudyard Spencer, during the Sectoral Debate in June, had dismissed a claim by the Government that there were not enough locally trained workers to fill job vacancies on some construction sites in the hotel industry.

The Opposition spokesman had also questioned the accuracy of data provided by the Labour Minister regarding the number of work permits granted by his ministry. He said the minister needed to explain to the country why 228 applications for work permits were granted in elementary (unskilled) occupations.

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