Report on ‘free visa’ reviewed

Manama : The House of  Representatives reviewed a special report on “free visa” phenomenon, an illegal employment issue, during their weekly meeting in Gudaibiya yesterday.

The discussion of the report, submitted by a special investigative committee formed to look into the phenomenon and the ways to tackle it, was delayed several times during the past few months.

Formed three years ago, the eight-member committee was tasked to probe the causes behind the increasing phenomenon and to recommend effective methods to eradicate it.

The committee discussed the matter with the relevant authorities that included Labour and Social Development, Industry, Commerce and Industry, Interior and Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministries, in addition to the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA), the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), municipal councils of the four governorates of the Kingdom, Bahrain Chamber for Commerce and Industry and several labour unions and societies.

More efforts needed

During the discussion, a number of MPs including Adel Al Assoomy, Majid Al Majid and Adel Hameed, accused the authorities of not making sufficient efforts to tackle the issue.

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Al Assoomy, who heads the investigative committee as well as the council’s Public Utilities and Environment Committee, criticised the shortage of inspectors tasked by the authorities to monitor the labour market.

He claimed that “there are 64 inspectors to oversee over half a million foreign workers” while comparing the Bahraini procedures to Kuwait which he said has 800 inspectors.

Al Assoomy added that the lack of an official authority tackling the Free Visa employment issue and nonexistence of a hotline to receive complaints related to the matter are some of the problems that require immediate solutions in Bahraini.

Labour and Social Development Minister Jameel Humaidan was present at the discussion to answer MPs’ questions.

In his reply to Al Assoomy, the minister confirmed that “the ministry has increased the numbers of inspectors in 2017 to 75 inspectors”, adding that “35, 000 inspection campaigns were conducted last year”.

Humaidan rejected MPs’ accusations of the lack of coordination between the different official authorities to tackle the issue, affirming that “a strategy is followed as per the directives of the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa to coordinate between the different authorities to eradicate the irregular employment phenomenon” and that this includes Interior, Foreign Affairs, Labour and Social Development, Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministries and other official authorities.

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“HRH the Crown Prince has directed to eradicate the causes that benefit citizens from irregular employment. As a result, several procedures were implemented, including the Flexible Work permits,” the minister added.

As reported earlier, the Flexible Work Permits were launched last July and allow certain categories of illegal workers, who meet conditions, to work and reside in Bahrain without the need of an employer.

The lawmakers passed the report by the end of the session and called to adopt its recommendations to end this phenomenon.

Source Credit: DT News

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