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Landmark labour reforms signal end of kafala system in Qatar

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Qatar has announced sweeping reforms to its labour market, with a view to ending the kafala system and marking a momentous step forward in upholding the rights of migrant workers.

On 16 October 2019, the Council of Ministers of the State of Qatar  unanimously endorsed new legislation allowing workers to change employers freely. Workers in Qatar had previously required a no-objection certificate (NOC) from their employer in order to do so. A Ministerial Decree by the Minister of Interior was also signed, removing exit permit requirements for all workers, except military personnel. Together, these steps mark the end of kafala in the country.

In addition, the Council of Ministers endorsed a new law to establish a non-discriminatory minimum wage, the first in the Middle-East.

“The ILO welcomes these reforms and recognizes the commitment of the State of Qatar to transforming its labour market. These steps will greatly support the rights of migrant workers, while contributing to a more efficient and productive economy. I am pleased that the ongoing ILO technical cooperation programme in Qatar is tangibly contributing to the government’s effort to advance social justice and promote decent work in the country,” said Guy Ryder, the ILO Director-General.

The elimination of the NOC requirement will allow workers to freely change employers following an initial probationary period. Should they wish to change employers during this period, the new employer would need to reimburse recruitment costs to the original employer.

The decision on exit permits means that domestic workers; workers in government and public institutions; workers employed at sea and in agriculture; as well as casual workers are free to leave the country either temporarily or permanently without having to obtain the permission of their employers. This covers all workers not covered by Law No. 13 of 2018, which removed the requirement to obtain exit permits for most workers covered by the Labour Law.

Meanwhile, the establishment of a non-discriminatory minimum wage that applies to all nationalities and all sectors will guarantee a minimum level of protection for all workers. The minimum-wage level will be set later in the year, based on a joint study already completed by the ILO and the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (ADLSA).

“Qatar is changing. The new tranche of laws will bring an end to kafala and put in place a modern industrial relations system. We recognize that a new evidence-based minimum wage rate will ensure dignity for migrant workers. We urge the government to announce this as quickly as possible. The partnership between the Qatar Government and the ILO, supported by the ITUC, is working to change lives,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.

Roberto Suarez-Santos, Secretary-General of the International Organisation of Employers, said: “We congratulate the Government of Qatar on the major steps they have taken to adapt their labour market standards. IOE is proud to have supported the government’s efforts over the past several years. I would like to express our appreciation to those leading this process for making decent work and sustainable economies a centrepiece of development in Qatar.”

The respective draft laws will now be referred to the Advisory (Shura) Council, and subsequently for the approval and signature of the Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The legislation is expected to come into force by January 2020.

These reforms are part of the ILO-ADLSA cooperation agreement signed in 2017, which resulted in the opening of an ILO Project Office in Doha in April 2018 .

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Finance

Jordan: US$85 million for a New Industry Development Fund

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The World Bank has approved US$85 million in financing for the Jordan Support for Industry Development Fund Project, which aims to promote investments and exports in the manufacturing sector through the operationalization of a new Industry Development Fund. The fund is one of the commitments Jordan has made under its Economic Priority Plan 2021–2023.

Jordan urgently needs to create inclusive and broad-based job opportunities to promote resilient recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, requiring a shift towards a resource-efficient, export- and investment-driven growth model. Manufacturing, among the largest employers in Jordan’s economy, suffered acute shortages of cash during the COVID-19 pandemic. To diversify and expand their exports, and generate more jobs, companies now need to move out of survival mode to a new level of competitiveness.  

The Government of Jordan is establishing the Industry Development Fund to put its development policies and programs on manufacturing into practice. The government asked for the World Bank’s support in designing and operationalizing the fund as an efficient, transparent, and effective delivery platform for support for firms, and as a key financial enabler for industrial transformation. Its focus will be upgrading and modernizing industries; export development and promotion; and incentivizing companies toward high performance in areas critical to the sector reaching its full potential, such as increased climate-responsiveness and female employment.  

The Industry Development Fund is a key instrument in our Economic Priority Plan 2021–2023 to help firms in the industrial sector recover and build back better following the COVID-19 crisis,” said H.E. Nasser Shraideh, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of Jordan. “It will serve as a stimulus to promote private sector-led investment, as well as modernization, upgrading, and export development, which are key engines of growth for the Jordanian economy.

The project aims to support more than 500 export-oriented firms directly through the fund’s programs and to mobilize at least US$17 million in additional private capital. It will also support the building of effective delivery mechanisms and a robust governance and operational capacity, enabling the fund to support the transformation of the industrial sector in the longer term.

Jordan’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has been broad-based, but many sub-sectors are operating below their pre-pandemic level and external shocks have led to higher unemployment, especially for women and the youth,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, Mashreq Regional Director, World Bank Group. “This project will complement the integrated package of support for private sector development that the Bank and the Government of Jordan are implementing to foster enhanced public-private partnerships for inclusive and resilient recovery and growth.” 

The main activities financed by the Fund will include: (i) Industry upgrading and export development programs; (ii) Outcome-based incentives program; and (iii) Easing access to export credit insurance and to new supply chain finance products.

The project prioritizes gender balance and includes measures to ensure the inclusion of women business leaders/owners and employees, and of various vulnerable groups in the fund’s programs.

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Tech News

Implications of remote conformity assessment for developing countries

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The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is pleased to announce the launch of a publication titled “Remote conformity assessment in a digital world: Opportunities, challenges and implications for developing countries”.

The publication provides a high-level overview of how remote assessment/audit techniques have developed in recent years and applied in different conformity assessment contexts. It also highlights the associated benefits of such techniques along with the challenges and implications for the future. 

Quality Infrastructure is the combination of initiatives, institutions, organizations, activities, and people that help ensure products and services meet customers’ requirements. Conformity assessment is a central part of this important work as it links regulation, industry, and markets. Evidence shows that establishing a Quality Infrastructure can assist a nation in pursuing a development track in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Remote assessments/audits play a crucial role in the context of digital transformation of Quality Infrastructures around the world, with the global disruptions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic having accelerated this process and injected urgency into the adoption of new technologies. where the use of remote assessment techniques to ensure the continuity of conformity assessment and confidence in its outcomes became a strategic imperative.

The need to stay abreast of the latest developments to ensure that no country is left behind in the increasingly digitalized world of conformity assessment makes this publication relevant for developing countries and a wider audience. Pragmatic steps that can be taken to address this need are presented accordingly.

UNIDO remains committed to continuing its support to developing countries, assisting them in overcoming the challenges and making the most of the opportunities posed by the growing use of remote assessment techniques.

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Tech News

Privacy vs Security in the online world

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New technological developments and the rise of the internet allowed many people access to the digital world by making it possible to do so from anywhere and anytime. But, with all its benefits, this has significantly increased the amount of data we have on the internet. From cookies to the browser and device fingerprinting, we leave data behind every time we visit a website. How private or secure is your data online?

What is the difference between privacy and security?

Some people use these terms interchangeably, but there is a difference between them. Privacy is related to your right to control your personal information and how that information is used, while security determines how that personal information is protected.

For example, you can choose to share your data on a social media platform, which is a matter of privacy, while how that platform protects that data is a matter of security. The same applies to signing on the eCommerce site. You are choosing to disclose your data to them to use their services, but it is up to them to keep your data safe, maintaining your privacy and security. If they sell or release your information to a third party, your privacy would be compromised, but not necessarily security. In a successful cyberattack, both your security and privacy have been compromised.

Compromised privacy doesn’t necessarily threaten your online safety, but it remains an essential aspect of it.

Dangers of privacy and security loss

With our growing online presence, more and more of our personal data ends up online. This data is in danger of being compromised by companies selling or sharing it with unauthorized 3rd parties to be used for advertising, political manipulation, or other nefarious purposes. The risk gets even higher on social media, where people reveal various details about them that malicious parties can use. Luckily, they are starting to realize the importance of data privacy. According to the research, 81% of people are more concerned about their social privacy than last year.

The loss of privacy is real, but how does this impact our security? The truth is it leaves us vulnerable to various types of cyberattacks and fraud attempts, such as data breaches and identity fraud. The threat from cybercriminals, hackers, and fraudsters keeps growing with our rising dependence on the internet. While the cyber attacks are nothing new, the truth is that the development of technology has allowed them to step up with their malicious attacks, making them harder to trace and able to affect more people than ever. According to the Telegraph, cyber fraud is currently the fastest-growing category of crime, and it shows no signs of slowing down. But does that mean you have to stop using the internet to remain safe from these threats? Of course not; you just need to take the proper steps to minimize the risk while enjoying your online life.

How can you ensure your privacy and security online?

With our digital footprints growing constantly, it is time to start taking necessary actions to protect ourselves.

  1. The first step you need to do is install Antivirus and Firewall programs to protect yourself from various cyber threats. Just remember to keep them up to date, and you will significantly reduce the danger.
  2. Practice good password hygiene. More than 80% of data breaches directly resulted from poor passwords, which is why you should never use easily guessable passwords such as your date of birth or even something simple like “123456”. You should also always choose unique and complex passwords for all of your accounts, making it harder for cybercriminals to gain access to different accounts.
  3. Reduce the risk of your account data being stolen and used for malicious purposes by not saving credit and debit cards in the system when making online purchases. The truth is that every website is vulnerable to attack. You don’t want to put yourself at unnecessary risk because you need to invest a few more seconds to type in your card details.
  4. Be mindful of what you share online and on social media. Most people are not aware of how public the data on social media actually is, and they keep oversharing. This can allow cyber criminals and fraudsters to discover important personal information and use it for their malicious actions. Review your privacy settings on social media sites and think twice before posting something personal.

Cybercriminals and fraudsters keep evolving their methods to exploit as many people as they can reach. Learn how to protect yourself and stay safe online.

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