Bahrain firms dispute expat worker fee
Manama, September 2, 2013
Bahrain's business community has launched a petition against the reintroduction of a tax on foreign workers, a report said.
The government announced last month that the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) would start collecting the fees from employers starting from yesterday, according to the report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Each company is supposed to pay BD10 ($25.8) a month for each expatriate employee and BD200 to renew their work permits, but the tax was shelved in April, 2011 to help business recover from the effects of unrest.
The business community is again calling for the fees to be frozen, even though they have been halved for businesses with no more than five foreign workers.
A petition was launched at the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), Sanabis, yesterday - coinciding with the reintroduction of the LMRA levy.
The money funds Tamkeen projects to train the workforce and support entrepreneurs, but BCCI members claim they can't afford to pay.
"There was an event held for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) during which several businessmen, owners and individuals protested against the LMRA fees," said businessman Hisham Mattar.
He told the GDN that the business community in Bahrain was "disappointed and angered" at the reintroduction of the fees.
"Our economy still needs time to recover as businesses are shrinking and these fees are not helping us," he added. "Even members of the Bahrain Contractors Association are upset as clearly their members employ more than five foreign workers."
Mattar said they have collected close to 1,000 signatures from businessmen, businesswomen, small traders and individuals who are against the LMRA fees.
"The petition is addressed to the wise leadership - showing our objection and requesting them to put this decision on hold as it requires further review," he said.
He added they were not taking signatures of businessmen who signed petitions earlier and were only accepting new names on the list. The BCCI and traders protested against the fees even before unrest in 2011 impacted their profits. – TradeArabia News Service