By BEGENA P PRADEEP
A BAHRAINI, caught yesterday selling appointment tokens at the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) claimed he was only trying to help the expatriates.
He was caught after the LMRA was tippped off by the GDN.
The man apparently offered expatriates the “opportunity” to get a token for BD1, for an appointment to renew or obtain new CPR cards, which should otherwise be free of charge.
Bahrainis are given priority for appointment tokens as the LMRA only deals with Bahraini clearing agents to process visas and CPR cards.
However, expatriates can get their CPR cards in person, but have to wait for their turn after the Bahraini agents.
Some expatriates are told that the tokens were finished near the end of the day and they have to return the following day to make an appointment.
Witnesses told the GDN that some Bahraini clearing agents who get tokens misuse their privilege and get as many as they can to sell them to expatriates waiting in queues for hours.
“As soon as we received information from the GDN we set out to investigate the matter and our security men caught the culprit,” said LMRA e-services manager Waheed Al Balushi.
“We are questioning him in co-ordination with the legal department, after which we will transfer him to the authorities concerned.
“The LMRA will not tolerate any such unlawful activities and will take prompt and appropriate action.
“The Bahraini says that he sold the tokens with good intention, but an illegal action is always wrong even if you try to justify it.
“It seems he wanted to help the people who were waiting to get tokens.”
Expatriates began reporting to the LMRA for their CPR procedures since November.
The Sanabis-based LMRA processes such services on working days between 2pm and 8pm.
The initiative has been co-ordinated with the General Informatics Organisation (GIO) to cut waiting lists for expatriates and their families.
Under the new measure, expatriates are required to report to the LMRA to submit their photos, fingerprints and e-signatures.
The data would then be referred to the GIO to issue them with their CPR cards.
The LMRA had earlier urged employers to notify their expatriate employees not to report to the LMRA in the morning hours.
However, expatriates claim that only if they arrive at the LMRA before noon do they stand a chance to be in the front of the queue and thus get a token for an appointment.
“I am a regular visitor to the LMRA because I help people in filling out forms and explain procedures to them,” said an Indian businessman and social worker, who didn’t want to be named.
“We (expatriates) need to be here at least from 9am if we have to be in the first part of the queue to get our token,” he said.
“I know of many examples where people have waited since morning to get a token.”
An Indian accountant told the GDN he was better off paying to get a token instead of having to miss or be late to work. “I’ve been visiting the LMRA office for three days now to get my wife’s CPR,” said the applicant, who didn’t want to be named.
“Every day I am asked to wait in this long queue and later told that the tokens are over so we should return the next day.
“Since there is no guarantee for how many more days I need to wait, I’d rather pay some money to get a token and finish my work.” LMRA chief executive Ali Radhi told the GDN that he was aware of the problem and pledged to deal strictly with offenders.