India's Commerce Ministry says it is in discussion with Singapore on providing visas for its IT professionals but denies that the issue has led to the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (Ceca) being put on hold.
"India has not put the India-Singapore Ceca on hold. It continues (to be) in force," said a Commerce Ministry spokesman in response to a query from The Straits Times.
The ministry denied a report in The Times of India that the review of Ceca had been put on hold due to disagreements over the movement of professionals.
The National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) has complained that the movement of Indian software professionals to Singapore had been reduced to a "trickle'' since January last year and that it was hurting software firms, some of which were even looking to relocate.
India's Ministry of Commerce and Industry also expressed concern that restrictions on the movement of Indian professionals to Singapore violate the terms of Ceca but said the matter was under discussion.
The pact has a chapter which basically provides for citizens of one country going to the other for temporary stays to provide services, including professionals who are in a specialised occupation.
"The movement of natural persons is explicitly provided for in the agreement (Ceca)," India's Commerce Ministry spokesman said in response to a query from The Straits Times, on the impact of the move on an ongoing review of the agreement. "Recent policy measures by Singapore that do not respect this provision are a cause of concern and are being discussed with the Government of Singapore."
Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry said yesterday that it was committed to working with India to conclude the Ceca review.
In response to a query by The Straits Times, it said it had not received official notification from India that the Ceca review had been put on hold.