Authorities could finally decide on the Bahrainisation level needed in the gold and jewellery sector. A study has been commissioned into the sector and results would be revealed next month, said a Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) spokesman.
It comes after the Industry and Commerce Ministry called for serious efforts to be taken to encourage Bahrainis to work in the sector, which was losing business as bulk customers were going to other markets.
"After the study, we will meet with officials of the trade, specifically with the members of Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry's gold and pearl jewellery committee to decide what the percentage should be," said the spokesman. "We have received representations from the committee and are looking into them. We are now awaiting the results of the study before we decide on a figure." The spokesman added that authorities were taking the issue seriously in a bid to develop the trade in Bahrain and protect its interests. Committee head Mohammed Sajid Shaikh said the market was suffering because the traders had failed to meet the Bahrainisation quota.
"We are not allowed to recruit expatriates if we do not have a 15 percent Bahrainisation level," he said. "That we cannot do since there are no skilled Bahrainis available in the business. "In addition to that, the LMRA is ignoring our plight and not acting on our request," he pointed out. "We had asked them a while ago to consider our demands but have not had a response." Mr. Shaikh said authorities should initially impose a five percent Bahrainisation. "We could then increase it gradually until we had enough trained Bahrainis in the sector," he added.
Mr. Shaikh said the mandatory BD10 LMRA fee per expatriate employee would add to the problems faced by many traders. "The summer is here and we are suffering from lack of customers," he said. "How can we pay this money? We want it to be suspended further at least till the end of the year." Mr. Shaikh had said skilled persons as diamond cutters, engravers and polishers were not available among Bahrainis so they had to depend on expatriates.