Monday, January 31, 2011

Thailand to set up more nationality verification centers

Monday, 31 January 2011 13:26 Aung Myat Soe

Bangkok (Mizzima) - The Thai government will set up more nationality verification centers for Burmese workers in Thailand, according to The Nation newspaper.

The Thai Labour Minister Chalermchai Sri-on visited Burma last week to meet with Burmese deputy foreign minister Maung Myint.

‘The Burmese authorities will establish an office to identify workers' nationality in Ranong and also send more officials to Chiang Rai's Mae Sai checkpoint’, the newspaper quoted the Labour Minister as saying. Mae Sai is opposite the Burmese border town of Tachilek.

Labour Minister Chalermchai Sri-on added that Burmese authorities might send officials to be stationed at a border checkpoint in Nakhon Sawan Province, as a replacement for the nationality verification center in Mae Sot, which has been closed.

‘We have asked for more nationality verification centers for a long time. Moreover, the authorities of the two countries should put pressure on the broker companies to reduce service fees. Currently, the service fees are high’, he said.

In the nationality verification process, it cost 200 baht (about US$ 6) for the temporary passport and 1,900 baht (about US$ 62) for a Thai visa.

However, many migrant workers have to pay about 5,500 Baht (about US$ 177) including the service fees and transportation fees to private broker companies, which assist the workers in making application. Some workers pay nearly 10,000 baht (about US$ 322), observers say.

According to a source close to the Thai Labour Ministry, Burma wanted to know the total number of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand. Organizations which assist migrant workers say there are a total of about two million Burmese migrant workers in Thailand.

According to the Migrant Information Note issued by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on November 26, 188,323 out of more than 800,000 legal Burmese migrant workers have completed the nationality verification process as of September 30, 2010.

The Thai Ministry of Labour had earlier estimated that all the nationality verification process should be completed by the end of February 2012, the IOM said.

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