Labour fee exemption bill blocked

A BILL that would have exempted a government body from paying expatriate labour fees has been blocked by Shura Council members.

Parliament passed the bill in February, saying it would help the Sunni and Jaffari Waqf (Endowment) Directorates to pump finances towards developing existing facilities and building new ones.However, the Shura Council said the decision was made to prevent other religious, charitable and humanitarian societies, institutes and establishments from seeking the same privilege.

There are 320 expatriate workers listed under the Sunni Directorate including caretakers, muezzins, cleaners and supervisors, while there are 17 in the Jaffari Directorate.

“Either we exempt all societies, institutes and establishments concerned with religious, charitable and humanitarian services from Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) fees or we don’t exempt anyone,” said services secretary Khalil Al Thawadi.

“The two directorates are self-sustaining as they have huge assets and investments from their endowments.

“And we can’t continue depriving the LMRA from income and adding more to the exemption lists, which already include housemaids, because this would affect its financial strength taking into consideration that the monthly BD10 fees on expatriate workers have now been suspended for more than a year.”

Mr Al Thawadi said the LMRA would shut down if all institutions were exempted from the fees.

“If we decide to approve all (exemptions) then the LMRA will become redundant and its closure would be imminent since it would be without any income.”

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