Call for review of labour reforms in Bahrain


The demands of the chamber to reconsider the implementation of the project might have come late as the labour market reforms law that imposes annual and monthly fees on expatriate workers will take effect from January. The law took almost five years to be drafted, reviewed with businessmen and passed by parliament.

In a statement, the chamber said that there was a need to search for other options to promote the employment of local manpower as increasing the cost of expatriate workforce would affect national economy and citizens.

The statement said that with the soaring prices of oil, economic growth and decline in unemployment in Bahrain, there was no need to impose restrictions on businessmen and reduce their revenues by forcing them to pay taxes on their foreign employees.

The Acting Executive President of the Labour Fund, (the organisation responsible for collecting fees on expatriate workers and allocate them to train local manpower), Abdulelah Al Qasimi said that the reconsideration of the implementation of the law would affect the progress of the fund’s projects. "The law will benefit businessmen in the long run as it would reduce their independence on foreign workers and enhance the efficiency of Bahrainis."

He said that the fund’s projects wouldn’t only focus on training manpower, but also mechanisms to enhance the productivity of the private sector.

The fund is being operated with a BD21 million annual budget collected from training fees paid by companies and the amount isn’t enough to implement all the projects. The fund is expected to pay part of the salaries of Bahraini employees working in private companies to attract locals to join the private sector as well as launch different employment and training projects. The fund will also support companies with Bahrainisation initiatives.

The chamber’s statement came after the parliament proposed last week to the government to postpone the collection of fees from companies to 2009 and the suggestion was rejected by the Minister of Labour Dr Majeed bin Mohsen Al Alawi who said that all should contribute to reform the labour market and the efforts to end unemployment.

The fees will be determined soon by the government. When the law was first introduced to public, the proposed fees were BD75 per month and BD400 per annum on each expatriate worker.


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