Fees reprieve ‘will benefit businesses’

Embattled business sectors reeling from the Covid-19 crisis will gradually feel the positive impact of the waiver or reduction of labour fees, predicted a top official.

Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) chief executive Ausamah Al Absi believes hundreds of businesses will benefit from the move.

“We had the waiver of labour fees from April until last month, while fees for issuance and renewals of work permits were reduced by 50 per cent during the same period,” said Mr Al Absi.

“The second phase of measures helps the affected sectors with waivers and a reduction of fees starting from July until September.”

Mr Al Absi’s comments follow an edict issued by Deputy Premier and Ministerial Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs and Fiscal Balance chairman, Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, to exempt some sectors from paying LMRA fees from the beginning of this month.

The sectors covered include travel and aviation, hospitality and restaurants, personal services (salons, gyms and entertainment halls), transportation and communications, rehabilitation and training (including kindergarten), retail (not including food), administrative services (public relations, media, and event organisation), in addition to local newspapers and magazines.

The above companies are further exempted from paying the fees levied on issuance or renewal of work permits in the first year of validity.

“We issue work permits with three different validities – six months, one year and two years,” explained Mr Al Absi.

“For example, if a work permit with two-year validity is renewed, or issued, then the employer does not pay the fees for the first year.”

Mr Al Absi added that if a permit for one-year validity is renewed for the same period, it is also covered under the fees exemption.

Furthermore, the official said the sectors affected by the pandemic will be provided with much needed relief through the fees exemption until September.

“Businesses are slowly opening up despite consumers and owners being cautious at this stage,” he said.

“However, some firms have not reopened due to high operational costs, and the fees exemptions will help them. We will gradually see a positive impact on businesses.”

Amnesty

Meanwhile, Mr Al Absi said the introduction of a flexi-work visa that allows expats to sponsor themselves for less than BD400 for a year – including medical insurance and an air ticket – had received a good response.

The permits are available to expats who have lost their jobs, or undocumented workers with expired or terminated work permits, those who have not been paid salaries and have filed cases against their employers, and expats whose workplace has a cancelled Commercial Registration (CR).

“We are seeing a good number of migrant workers absorbed in the economy,” said Mr Al Absi.

The official previously said that based on their assessment more than 8,000 irregular workers were absorbed in the economy in April and May.

The labour watchdog launched a nine-month general amnesty until December 31, under which irregular workers can leave the country without paying any fees or penalties.

It covers those with expired or terminated work permits and those workers who absconded from their employer.

In addition, the LMRA last month launched a job portal (talentportal.bh) for expats and Bahrainis affected by Covid-19.

More than 2,500 people have so far registered for the free service.

 

Source: http://www.gdnonline.com/Details/837600/Fees-reprieve-‘will-benefit-businesses’

 

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