Failure of Dialogue between BCCI and Gov’t on Flexible Work Permits...Likely Confrontation in Parliament
2019-02-26 - 4:10 am
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Although multiple Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) meetings were held with Bahraini Finance Minister Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa and Industry and Commerce Minister Zayed Al-Zayani, following the BCCI chairman's criticism of the method of applying the value added tax (VAT), as well as his fierce criticism of the flexible work permit system, it doesn't seem that both parties are heading towards a compromise on a certain method, especially regarding the flexible work permit issue.
Also, despite the recent meeting between the Crown Prince and Samir Nass and his two deputies, the latter still shows a clear desire for participation in the economic decision-making process in order to preserve the interests of the business class, noting that Samir Nass and the Chamber behind him have the special support of Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman, who has always known how to meet the interests of this class, which in turn gave him a lot and shared with him and his son Ali, his grandchildren and those close to him in "business and interests".
The head of the Labor Market Regulatory Authority, former officer Osama Al-Absi, participated in a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce management. It seems that he reveals what the Crown Prince's team is thinking about the criticism of traders. "You can not solve the problem- any problem- in the same way of thinking that created the problem in the first place," he said in a tweet, hinting at the increased criticism. "Do not try to explain or justify it; your friends do not need an explanation, and your enemies will not believe you," he said in another.
The government; however, in which the crown prince now has the upper hand, appears to be forced to justify. A parliamentarian asked the Labor and Social Development Minister Jamil Humaidan about the "flexible permits" system applied by the LMRA on non-organized labour in Bahrain.
The question was posed by the most prominent representatives of the Chamber of Commerce in the House of Representatives, and the flag-bearer of traders' interests, Ahmed Salloum, who in addition to being an MP, managed to gather a number of MPs around. He is a businessman and an elected member of the Board of Directors of Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He's the chairman of the Bahrain Society for Small and Medium Enterprises Development since its establishment in 2010, chairman of the Board of Directors of the nonprofit Center for Development of Small and Medium Enterprises since 2017, chairman of the Board of Directors of the nonprofit Bahrain Gate Center for Support of Small and Medium Enterprises since 2017, and CEO of the Farouk Center for Support and Development of Small and Medium Enterprises since its foundation in 2013.
Salloum asked for clarifications on the "legal basis for granting foreign workers flexible work permits." He further asked whether "these workers apply to the definition specified in the law. He also asked what is meant by a person qualified to work and reside in the Kingdom of Bahrain without an employer according to the Labor Market Regulatory Authority, and how one worker can work for a number of different employers."
"Flexible visa holders in Bahrain fall in an area that is not legally defined," Al-Salloum said. "They do not meet the definition of an employer or worker, because they are neither entities nor employers, nor are they workers of a specific party. They do not fit the definition of an employer or worker as stipulated by the law; therefore we demand the suspension of this type of employment visas."
A question from an MP and a member of the Chamber of Commerce about the flexible work permits is more than enough to know that the dialogue between the two parties has failed, and that the Crown Prince's team at the helm of the government will not relinquish this system, which has generated large sums of money for the treasury, even if this system goes against the interest of traders and ordinary citizens who have been severely affected by this decision.
To be more precise, the official news of a meeting held on February 5 between the Chamber of Commerce, the Minister of Industry and Commerce Zayed Al-Zayani, the Minister of Labor Jamil Humaidan and the head of the Labor Market Regulatory Authority, Osama Al-Absi, can be clearly shows the government's view. It also includes a brief not so clear comment by the Chamber head, Samir Nass, and the most important part of this news, which is what Zayed Al-Zayani told the Chamber, noting that "holders of flexible work permits pay about 3 to 6 times more than what the trader or entrepreneur pays in monthly fees". This is the government's conclusion: money, and that's it.
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