[Lagarde says Europeans essentially are responsible for their own fate.]

WASHINGTON, APRIL 22, 2013 (MALAYA) Written by AP - The head of the International Monetary Fund said Wednesday the greatest threat to a lasting economic recovery in Europe is “the fatigue of both governments and populations” over painful steps taken to boost growth and combat national debt.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the economy seems better in the United States, although she’s watching the effects of automatic budget cuts.

Lagarde was asked on “CBS This Morning” about a Time magazine cover asking, “Can this woman save Europe?”

She responded that Europeans essentially are responsible for their own fate.

Lagarde said that recovery efforts will take time because 17 countries are trying to get together for a political and financial accommodation. Lagarde also said she worries that Europeans might be thinking “they’ve done enough and now it’s time to reap the benefits.”

Most governments in Europe have been on a quest to reduce high public debt for the past three years. The spending cuts and tax increases necessary to do so, however, have hurt economic growth. The 17-country eurozone is expected to have remained in recession in the first quarter. Countries that have had to take the most aggressive austerity measures have been in protracted recessions — Greece’s economy has been contracting for over five straight years.

The measures are taking a toll on people, with living standards dropping as unemployment hits record highs. Eurozone unemployment is now at 12 percent, with youth joblessness at a staggering 23.5 percent.

Discontent has spread and led to street protests and general strikes. Political parties that oppose austerity measures have gained in popularity, destabilizing governments.

2,000 undocumented OFWs mass in Jeddah Details Published on Thursday, 18 April 2013 23:00 Written by ASHZEL HACHERO .

CAMP SITE. Overseas Filipino workers set up camp outside the Philippine Embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Photo by Migrante-Jeddah.

THE Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday said it will negotiate with the Saudi Arabian government for the speedy repatriation of 2,235 undocumented overseas Filipino workers who are camped outside the Philippine consulate in Jeddah.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said government will ask Saudi Arabia for the waiver of certain requirements like the no-objection certificate from employers who can no longer be contacted.

Hernandez said the DFA is also coordinating with the Filipino community in Jeddah for assistance in locating undocumented OFWs who need assistance or repatriation.

He said consulate officials in Jeddah are obtaining the narratives of each OFW “in order to render sound, legal advice and the appropriate assistance on a case-to-case basis.”

He also appealed to the OFWs to return to their previous residences while the consulate is processing their repatriation documents instead of risking their health camping out under the sweltering Saudi heat.

The OFWs, according to migrant workers groups helping them, are anxious to get out of Saudi Arabia before July, the deadline for illegal workers to legalize their stay in the desert kingdom.

The Saudi government earlier said it would enforce labor laws and punish illegal workers with imprisonment and fines amounting from 1,000 to 50,000 Saudi riyals.

Saudi Arabia has the largest number of OFWs of about 1.5 million, according to figures from the Overseas Workers and Welfare Administration.


PH asks Saudi to waive fees for undocumented OFWs by Posted on 04/19/2013 4:40 PM | Updated 04/20/2013 9:17 AM

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia- Stranded and undocumented Overseas Filipino Workers

MANILA, Philippines - To expedite the repatriation of undocumented overseas Filipino Workers, the government is negotiating with Saudi Arabia to waive some of the penalties required for the issuance of their exit visas.

But Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Raul Hernandez stressed that even as the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah continues to assist OFWs in the area amid the crackdown on illegal and overstaying workers, the process will still take time.

"Even if we have the money for the airfare and fines, our workers will have to go through the process of getting the no objection certificate and going through other government agencies," Hernandez said Friday, April 19.

About 2,500 OFWs have set up camps beside the Philippine Consulate Building in Jeddah as of Thursday, April 18, according to the Middle Eastern chapter of Filipino migrants rights group Migrante.

Hernandez said the consulate is providing the campers with food, water and basic necessities. However, the DFA has also been appealing to the Filipinos to return to their respective homes in Saudi.

Last week, the Saudi Arabian government gave all undocumented foreign workers a 3-month grace period to allow them to obtain all the necessary requirements for their exit visas.

To be eligible for an exit visa, foreign workers need to secure a "no objection certificate" from their previous employer and pay penalties consisting of about 2,000 Saudi Arabian Riyals (SAR) or about P22,000 for absconding, SAR2,400 (P26,000) for updating their iqamas or resident booklet, SAR1,000 (P11,000) for losing their iqamas and additional fines of between SAR600 to SAR650 (P6,500 to P7,100) -- depending on the length of time they have stayed in Saudi Arabia.

"We are committed to helping them in paying their repatriation costs, including some of the penalties. We are trying to reach out to the Saudi government to waive these penalties. Because this is a big amount of money," Hernandez said.

'Be responsible for your actions'

Hernandez reminded all undocumented Filipinos in Saudi Arabia of their obligation to face the consequences of their actions.

"When they are in host countries, they really have to follow the regulations, the immigration laws, the labor laws of that country," Hernandez said. And when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. If they need to come back, go through the usual process, go through POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) and get the proper legal papers so they can work there without any problems with the laws of the host government," he said.

Next month, the government and Saudi Arabia are expected to sign a bilateral agreement on the recruitment of Filipino household workers. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz will visit Saudi Arabia on May 13 for the signing, Saudi Ambassador to Manila Abdullah Al-Hassan earlier said. - with reports from Angela Casauay/

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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