The CEO of Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) Osama Bin Abdullah Al Absi said that there was no legal link between the travel ban and renewing the work permits of foreign workers.
He also stressed that the authority didn’t freeze the transactions of the foreign worker, and didn’t hesitate to offer their services to employers in the event of a court ruling preventing a worker from travelling due to private financial claims.
The statement of the CEO came during a meeting with the Building and Construction Sector’s Committee of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Bahrain headed by its chairman Samir Abdullah Naas and a number of its members.
Al Absi said that the authority was about to develop a clear and defined technological mechanism that would be available via the Internet and through the TRA website for the completion of the transactions related to work permits for foreign workers who had judicial rulings preventing them from travelling.
Relating to the same issue, Al Absi said that there was a continuous coordination with the Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments, where the authority was now revamping all the transactions of that category of foreign workers through receiving their applications directly at the headquarters of the authority.
The Chairman and members of the committee discussed the difficulties facing the contracting sector and the employers in general, in case one of their employees or workers got involved in financial problems associated with bank loans, or credit cards and judicial rulings were issued preventing them from travelling until their financial cases were resolved.
They pointed out that the transactions of the employers’ commercial institutions related to the authority, like the renewal of work permits, requesting new permits and moving applications, would all be stopped in the event of a travel ban on any foreign worker for them, as a result of some banks giving foreign workers loans and personal financial facilities.
They highlighted that in case the foreign worker was not able to be committed to pay the amount of the loan, the bank would file a lawsuit against the worker, and rulings in favour of the bank would be issued preventing the worker from travelling, and eventually all the transactions of the concerned employer would be stopped unless the loan was paid. Which, ultimately lead to a great loss for the employer because of the court ruling on one of their workers, even though the employer was not involved when their workers received such loans.
Al Absi said that there was no legal or administrative link between preventing travelling and freezing the transactions of the commercial institution, for the authority had coordinated with the Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments in this regard, and with a direct interest from the Minister Khalid Bin Ali Al Khalifa.
It was explained that prevention of travelling either because of the involvement of the foreign workers in a financial transaction with banks or companies of credit cards, or other reasons. That didn’t mean that the authority would prevent renewing their work permit, or wouldn’t provide all its services to them, including the renewal of their residence as workers, in case their employer provided the renewal requirements and followed the procedures stipulated by law.
The foreign worker would be allowed to submit a request to move to another employer, in condition of being committed to the authority’s procedures needed to be achieved.
During the meeting, Al Absi directed the officials of the authority to be more flexible when dealing with the businessmen in such matters, as they were not involved.
Al Absi added that the authority adopted clear regulations and laws, and that the database of the authority was currently keeping biological data (fingerprint and the personal photo) and the personal data of more than one million and two hundred thousand foreign workers, dealing annually with an average of 120.000 applications for issuing work permits.
The CEO of the (LMRA) stressed that the authority had done its best efforts with all of its partners at the market to correct all the errors, achieve more organization and integration within the concept of partnership, and maintain negotiation to reach the best solutions without prejudice to the interests of any party in accordance with law.
For his part, the Chairman of the Building and Construction Committee Sector at Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Samir Naas praised the maximum flexibility of the authority when dealing with the private sector according to the regulations approved in the law of the authority, pointing out the smoothness of procedures and the level of understanding shown by the authority’s officials.