Six-year residency cap sparks debate in Bahrain

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Dubai, Oct 22 (UNI) A proposal to impose a six-year residency cap on expatriate workers has sparked off a war of words between the Bahrain government and the business community.

Labour Minister Dr Majeed Al Alawi, earlier this month, had said the GCC labour ministers backed the proposal to preserve the Gulf identity and to ensure that unskilled foreign manpower do not live in the region for long periods that might entitle them to the rights of immigrant workers under UN conventions.

The minister's comment came under criticism from the businessheads with a joint committee of CEOs and MPs terming the proposal ''irresponsible'', Gulf News reported.

The committee, comprising of members of the Bahrain Businessmen's Association and MPs, warned that the residency cap would have negative effects on the economy and scare away investors from the region.

''The minister has no right to make a statement on the issue before a law is issued and published in the official gazette,'' Abdul Jalil Al Ansari, a businessman, was quoted as saying at the joint committee meeting.

Mr Al Alawi, a former opposition figure who joined the government in 2002, yesterday charged that some members of the business community were compromising national interests for the sake of their own interests.

''Those who have opposed the proposal are business people who prefer the protection of their company interests over the defence of their nation,'' he said in a brief press statement.

''They are so keen about their self interests that they do not really care that the nationals will be a minority in their own country and expatriates the majority,'' he added.

UNI

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