By GEOFFREY BEW,  Posted on » Sunday, April 05, 2009

MANAMA: Businessmen yesterday called for the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) to be axed during a workshop held to discuss private sector reforms.

The demand came during heated discussions between traders and government officials at the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).Hundreds of businessmen turned up to complain about the BD10 expatriate employee fee and ask where Tamkeen (Labour Fund) money was being spent.


LMRA chief executive Ali Radhi admitted the meeting had been heated but said it was also productive. “We were able to clarify a lot of things and we hope they (businessmen) will think about it again,” he said.

Mr Radhi said the LMRA had agreed to accept a list of businesses affected by the fees, but added that so far no one had provided any proof.

Despite the anger, BCCI president Dr Esam Fakhro called for businessmen to think long term, saying the labour fees had been introduced for a noble cause.

“This will have a long term benefit such as high productivity and it will reduce unemployment,” he said. “Any responsible man cannot say no to an initiative of this kind.

“We will continue to carry out additional awareness campaigns to inform the small and medium size enterprises on why the fees are required. Before we think of cancelling this (the fees) we have to think what is the alternative and how else can we combat unemployment?”

Hundreds of contractors have been holding weekly protests outside the LMRA headquarters in Sanabis, demanding an end to the labour fees and another will be staged today.

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