Flexi work visa rethink

Manama, Aug. 24 (BNA): His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, today chaired the weekly Cabinet meeting, held remotely.
The Cabinet congratulated HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister, on the success of his medical tests, and wished him continued good health as he supports the advancement of Bahrain’s progress across all sectors, under the leadership of HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

The Cabinet praised the role played by the Supreme Council for Women, headed by HRH Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of HM the King, for advancing women’s participation in all facets of society on its 19th anniversary.

The Cabinet commended healthcare personnel and first responders for their tireless dedication which has allowed for Bahrain to maintain relatively high COVID-19 recovery rates, testing rates and strengthen efficient contact tracing efforts.

The Cabinet also commended the high level of COVID-19 awareness and compliance with precautionary measures among citizens and residents across the Kingdom.

Following the meeting, the Cabinet Secretary-General, HE Dr. Yasser bin Issa Al-Nasser, made the following remarks:

1st: Based on the recommendation of the Government Executive Committee, chaired by HRH the Crown Prince, the Cabinet approved new regulations for issuing the Flexible Work Permit, in order to optimise the work permit system in a manner that strengthens labour market regulations, creates job opportunities for Bahrainis, makes citizens the first choice of employment and preserves the rights of workers.

The new regulations for the flexible work permit policy were approved based on the feedback of the Shura and Representatives Councils and the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), which were shared at meetings held to discuss all available options.

The Cabinet expressed its appreciation to the Legislative Authority and BCCI’s continuous cooperation towards supporting Bahrain’s development goals.

New procedures include intensifying inspection campaigns on flexible work permit holders to ensure that they do not work in professional activities that they may not engage in without obtaining a permit, and intensifying inspection campaigns on irregular workers to take the necessary legal action. Workers who do not comply with the regulatory procedures or who hold a business commercial registration are not allowed to apply for the Flexible Work Permit.

Furthermore, a committee consisting of members from the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, the Ministry of Finance and National Economy, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning, the Ministry of Electricity and Water Affairs, the Labour Market Regulatory Authority, BCCI, and the Education and Training Quality Authority will propose regulatory standards for 20 identified professions and any other professions the committee deems relevant to include. Recommendations will be shared with the Supreme Council for the Development of Education and Training within two months.

Measures also include barring Flexible Work Permit holders from registering industrial motor vehicles used in construction and transport buses.

2nd: Based on the recommendation of the Civil Service Council, chaired by HRH the Crown Prince, the Cabinet approved to transfer the subordination of the National Communication Centre (NCC) to the Director General of the Office of the First Deputy Prime Minister, in order to enhance the NCC’s role in unifying the government’s narrative and communication coordination. The Cabinet approved a draft decree amending some provisions of Decree No. (84) of 2016 regarding to the establishment and organisation of the National Communication Centre.

3rd: The Cabinet approved a recommendation by the Ministerial Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs and Fiscal Balance to amend provisions of Decree-Law No. (15) of 1977 on issuing Development Bonds. The amendments will raise the debt ceiling from BHD 13 billion BHD 15 billion, in order to finance the state’s general budget expenditures and to cover debt instalments due during 2020 and the next two fiscal years 2021 and 2022.

The Committee’s recommendation aims to minimise the effects of falling oil prices which resulted in lower oil revenues, and non-oil revenues that were lower than expected due to a slowdown in global economic activity resulting from COVID-19 precautionary measures. Despite the challenges, the government is committed to the Fiscal Balance Program which has so far achieved notable results in enhancing spending efficiency and reducing recurrent government expenditures.

4th: The Cabinet was briefed on a presentation by HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Ministerial Committee for Development and Infrastructure projects on the Committee’s achievements during the first two quarters of 2020. A total of 22 meetings were held and 40 follow-up meetings, during which the committee issued 357 decisions pertaining to 7 priorities. These decisions include following up on projects financed by the GCC development program, housing policies, public-private partnerships, housing services, food security, natural resources stewardship, and infrastructure that supports long-term sustainable development.

5th: The Cabinet approved a draft decree-law amending Article (173) of Decree-Law No. (54) of 2002 regarding the internal regulations of the Council of Representatives. The constitutional and legal changes will amend the legislative deficiency regarding the organisation of the public debate mechanism in order to

ensure it is more disciplined.

6th: The Cabinet approved a proposal regarding electricity and water support for micro, and small and medium-sized Bahraini enterprises, which has already been achieved through past decisions taken in this regard through government support for non-domestic electricity consumption segments, at up to 5000 units, which amounted to BHD 24 million during 2019.

7th: The Cabinet approved the Government’s response to a proposal to remove the requirement for medical students to train at a government health institution, and to limit internships to graduates of local universities enrolled in training programs approved by the Ministry of Health.

8th: The Cabinet approved a proposal to convert Askar field into a youth centre alongside Askar Sports Complex, which has begun providing its services to Bahrain’s youth, and the Southern Youth Centre located in Jau.

9th: The Cabinet approved a proposal to incorporate media and communications technology courses into government school curricula.

In the items of Ministerial reports, the Cabinet reviewed a report submitted by HE the Minister of Interior on the outcomes of the inspection committee’s assessment of narcotic drugs stored at Salmaniya Medical Complex.

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