Bahrain businesses sign petition against new expat worker levy

Published:  5 Sep at 6 PM
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The Bahraini government announced late last month that the formerly cancelled tax on foreign workers was to be reintroduced with immediate effect.

The announcement by the Labour Ministry Regulatory Authority came as a shock to the country’s smaller businesses, many of which are still struggling to turn around after the 2011 unrest which caused the tax to be cancelled. Rates due equal $26.38 per month per foreign worker plus a fee for work permit renewals.

Although the fees have been cut by 50 per cent for firms with fewer than five expat workers, a petition was launched last Sunday and gathered 5,000 signatures. Businessman Hisham Mittar, leader of the campaign and member of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce, presented the petition to the Prime Minister’s office yesterday.

According to Mittar, the business community is urging the government to freeze expat worker fees as the strain on struggling businesses is too great. He adds that the economic situation in the country is still not conducive to growing businesses damaged by the unrest two years ago.

Mittar told the press that invoices for the fees are expected within a few days, explaining that, should the fees not be paid immediately, businesses’ commercial registrations will be frozen. Small business owners, he said, will then be treated as criminals under prosecution and will be unable to operate their business concerns.

A second petition, he added, will be launched in the immediate future, giving even more members of Bahrain’s business community the chance to air their grievances.Totals of fees collected are used to train Bahraini workers and support entrepreneurs in order to reduce the need for foreign labour.
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