Bahrain extends freeze on expat worker tax
Manama, July 2, 2012
Bahrain has extended a nationwide freeze on a foreign worker tax, agreeing to suspend the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) fees until the end of the year.
The announcement came during the weekly Cabinet meeting chaired by HRH Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa at Gudaibiya Palace.
The fees have not been imposed since April last year in an attempt to ease pressure on companies suffering as a result of the unrest and global economic challenges.
Business leaders had been lobbying for an extension of the freeze, which was due to end yesterday, and a study will now be conducted to assess the viability of the scheme going forward.
The ministerial committee for financial and economic affairs will conduct the survey in co-operation with the Industry and Commerce Ministry, while the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry will be engaged in efforts to identify alternative schemes.
Results of the study will be submitted to the government in November.
The fees were introduced in 2008 and required companies to pay BD10 ($26.52) a month for every expatriate they employed, in addition to a BD200 payment every time an expat's contract was renewed.
That money was intended to fund training programmes and other Tamkeen initiatives to boost the number of skilled Bahrainis in the job market and support local businesses.
Businessmen have welcomed the decision to freeze the fees on foreign workers, sayng it will go a long way in helping them recover from the unrest.
"It is a great decision and what we were demanding," said Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) old suq committee chairman Mahmoud Al Namlaity.
"We had been pushing for this for a long time and were demanding the fee be frozen for another year. But even now, this is welcome. Six months will do us a lot of good. Hopefully, businesses will be in a much better position to pay soon."
However, Al Namlaity said the committee would go ahead with a plan to meet BCCI members today and give to them a petition in support of their demands.
"We will also give copies of the letter to the office of His Royal Highness the Prime Minister and the Industry and Commerce Minister," he said.
Al Namlaity said among their demands were to get Tamkeen to help businesses with more support and to freeze the municipal fees on business. “We are also demanding the BD30 licence fees every year we have to pay to the Industry and Commerce Ministry be temporarily waived," he said.
"We are also currently fined for any unpaid insurance premiums and that should also not happen. We are willing to pay but a delay should not attract a fine,” he added. – TradeArabia News Service