Living standards for Bahrainis pledge by MPs

MPS have pledged to work on ensuring the standard of living for Bahrainis will not drastically change post Covid-19.

Parliament’s five permanent committees made the commitment yesterday during an online Press briefing that lasted more than two hours.

The chairmen of all five committees were responding to public concerns that wages, allowances and social welfare would be reduced or stopped as the public and private sectors experience losses due to the pandemic and slumping oil prices.

In March Bahrain launched a BD4.3 billion economic stimulus package to offset the effects of the coronavirus, which include paying for wages of Bahrainis in the private sector for three months, deferring loan instalments for six months, shouldering utility bills for three months, waiving government fees and helping small and medium enterprises.


However, services committee chairman Mamdooh Al Saleh said Parliament will not stand by as private sector firms roll out pay cuts among Bahraini staff.

“The government is now shouldering most of the costs for the private sector to ensure salaries of Bahraini workers are not affected,” said the MP.

“The law allows pay cuts (for Bahrainis) if the company is struggling or nearing closure, but this needs authorisation from the relevant ministry.

“It should also be done on the condition that the company has already either made expat redundancies or pay cuts, and that Bahraini employees should agree to the cuts so it does not affect their financial commitments and obligations.

“But even here we are expecting the next support package – whether from the government directly or through us – to shoulder the difference and ensure that both the employee and employer stay unharmed.

“In the case of civil servants, the government does not plan to cut wages or allowances.”

Public utilities and environment affairs committee chairman Hamad Al Kooheji also suggested the formation of a joint fund to manage economic crises.

“The government supported wages for three months in the private sector and even delayed fees and tariffs with the intent of keeping Bahrainis as the pillar of development,” he said.

“We will not allow employers to cut wages by a single fils after the three months because the rights of Bahraini workers are non-negotiable.

“People’s living standards is a red line and they have financial commitments to meet and it is time the government and the main business body formed a fund to manage economic disasters.”

Their comments were reiterated by financial and economic affairs committee chairman Ahmed Al Salloom and foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman Mohammed Al Sissi.

Mr Al Sissi also discussed how the digitalisation of some services would create new job opportunities in a refreshed economy post Covid-19.

“Businesses should accustom themselves to the new norm,” he said.

“The government support has absorbed losses, although not generated profits in most sectors, but when things settle globally then the new norm will show positive signs.”

Legislative and legal affairs committee chairman Mohammed Al Abbasi added that people’s wages, allowances and social aid will not be affected during this period.




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