LAHORE: The Migrant Resource Centre (MRC), which had been functioning under the auspices of the Punjab Ministry for Labour and Human Resource Department and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), has been non-functional for more than three months.
The centre was set up in 2016 at the Industrial Relations Institute (IRI) in Township with the purpose to reduce the information gap on migration. Its mandate included provision of information and counselling to prospective labour migrants on issues such as overseas employment, rights and protection of migrants, skills development, vocational training and so on.
Sources in the labour department claimed that the centre was non-functional because of the non-availability of funds which were to be provided by ICMPD.
They also claimed that both these entities were reluctant to cooperate with each other because ICMPD is not registered in Pakistan and its terms with the provincial labour department are not as good as before.
Hina Masood, Programme Manager, ICMPD, confirms the centre is non-functional for the last three months and the reason simply is the non-availability of staff. According to her, the staff members have resigned in toto and ICMP has decided to hire new people on merit. She said the vacant posts in the centre had been advertised in newspapers and ICMP would complete hiring process by the end of this month. On the prolonged delay in the new hiring process, she said it was for the reason that Secretary Labour and Human Resource had approved these vacant posts quite late.
When the scribe contacted Secretary Labour and Human Resource, Sara Aslam, she was unaware of any such development and chose not to comment. However, Dawood Zahid, Deputy Secretary Labour and Human Resource Punjab, said the department has only provided space to ICMPD for MRC in Lahore and has nothing to do with the hiring process. ICMPD independently hires its employees and is therefore itself responsible for the delay, he added.
This stalemate has rendered the prospective migrants clueless who visit the centre only to find its office closed. Earlier, dozens of people used to visit the centre on a daily basis to seek information on safe migration but now they have lost this opportunity, said Saqlain Zaidi, former official of the centre. He urged the quarters concerned to take required measures and revive the centre.