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Blocks visas for Indian IT professionals

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Blocks visas

Although the focus has been on the United States, visas for IT professionals to work in Singapore have fallen “to a trickle,” inciting the government to put on hold the analysis of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) indicating a violation of the trade pact.

With Indian firms being advised to hire local talent, they are seeing at relocating some of their operations to other nations in the region. From HCL & TCS, which were the first movers to Singapore, the list has increased to include Wipro, Cognizant, Infosys and L&T Infotech.

“This (visa problem) has been lingering for a while but since early-2016, visas are down to a trickle. All Indian companies have received communication on fair consideration, which basically means hiring local people,” Nasscom president R Chandrashekhar stated. For all practical purposes, visas have stopped for our people, added another industry executive. Prompted by problems for IT and the banking sector — where there is lack of transparency on the capital requirement, the Indian government has now decided against expanding the scope of goods where import duties would be cut unless the concerns of domestic industry are addressed.

Sources said that Singapore authorities were requesting on what is termed “economic needs test” (ENT), which requires compliance with certain economic criteria, to refuse access to Indian professionals. “They are doing it despite the CECA clearly stating that there will be no ENT or quotas on agreed services. This is a violation of the agreement,” told an Indian officer, who did not wish to be named due to the ongoing discussions.

The prospect of the government is that it is important to assess the benefits that Indian industry obtains from the agreement before going ahead with allowing to expand its scope.

Services trade globally faces such difficulties for professionals with nations insisting on meeting various conditions, including assuring that a local professional is given a primary chance if he or she possesses the same or alike talent.
In recent years, Singapore has emerged as a key opponent of allowing international professionals into the island nation.

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