Tamkeen 'not hit' by freeze on labour tax
Manama, July 4, 2012
Funds for nationwide projects to train the Bahraini workforce will not be affected by a decision to suspend monthly fees for foreign workers, said an official of Tamkeen, the kingdom’s labour fund.
However, the Cabinet decision to extend the freeze on a BD10 ($2.652) Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) tax could disrupt Tamkeen's long-term plans.
The levy, which was suspended since April last year, is used to fund its programmes, including training Bahrainis, creating jobs and supporting local businesses.
It was extended until the end of the year on Sunday as a reprieve for the business community that has been lobbying for the suspension, saying they were still recovering from financial downturns of last year's unrest and global economic challenges.
"The decision to extend the suspension of the monthly fees levied against every foreign worker will not affect our short-term plans and projects because the BD107 million budget for the 2012 programmes has already been approved," said Tamkeen marketing communication manager Hala Sulaiman.
The existing budget would be used to launch 20 new initiatives this year, she added.
The LMRA fee was introduced in 2008 and requires companies to pay BD10 monthly for every expatriate they employee, in addition to a BD200 payment every time an expat's contract was renewed.
However, Sulaiman said if the suspension is extended any further, then it would have severe consequences on the organisation's initiatives.
"The decision will, however, have long-term effects because we depend on the funds obtained from LMRA to finance our programmes," she added.
"Any drop in these resources, therefore, forces us to re-evaluate our initiatives and budget allocations," Sulaiman said.
She said Tamkeen would continue to utilise its financial resources to benefit the private sector, despite any decision.
"Whether we decide to focus on the larger programmes, or cut back, postpone, or cancel niche ones, our principal objective will remain the same - to spend our financial resources optimally on initiatives that maximises the benefits for the private sector," she added.
Since January this year, Tamkeen has supported more than 1,750 distressed enterprises and signed several agreements with leading organisations to identify new support opportunities.
It has been a "key force" in shaping wider reform initiatives in line with Bahrain's Economic Vision 2030, she said.
"With nearly 180 programmes to date either already launched or in development, Tamkeen has been the primary enabler in the growth and development of Bahrain-based enterprises across all sectors," she explained.
It has nearly 30,000 youth empowerment programmes and nearly half of its beneficiaries are Bahraini women. – TradeArabia News Service