|06 April, 2020

Bahraini workers’ salary plan backed

Shura Council permits govt to withdraw money from Unemployment Fund to pay for the wages of Bahrainis in the private sector for April, May and June

Image for illustrative purposes. Central Bank of Bahrain official shows new BD$10 on first day of its release in Manama.

Image for illustrative purposes. Central Bank of Bahrain official shows new BD$10 on first day of its release in Manama.

REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

A key draft law aimed at reducing the impact of the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) pandemic on Bahraini workers in the private sector has crossed the final hurdle.

The Shura Council unanimously passed an urgent legislation permitting the government to withdraw money from the Unemployment Fund to pay for the wages of Bahrainis in the private sector for April, May and June.

The actual mechanism of the payout is being worked out, said a minister adding that guarantees are also being put in place to ensure employers pay all the Bahrainis on their payrolls.

Withdraw

The BD215 million which the government will withdraw from the fund is expected to support more than 100,000 Bahrainis.

The move is part of the government’s BD4.3 billion economic stimulus package to offset the financial impacts of the pandemic.

Following the MPs’ approval last Tuesday, the legislation will now be fast-tracked by the Cabinet for ratification by His Majesty King Hamad.

“The news that Bahrainis’ wages are guaranteed over a three-month period has come as a balm at a time of uncertainty,” Labour and Social Development Minister Jameel Humaidan told Shura Council members during their weekly session yesterday.

“Mechanisms and guarantees to ensure that payments would be made exactly and on time by employers are being drawn up by the ministry, the Finance and National Economy Ministry, the Social Insurance Organisation (SIO) and the Information and eGovernment Authority (iGA),” he added.

Parliament and Shura Council Affairs Minister Ghanim Al Buainain told the GDN that the payments will be made to employees insured from February.

“The lists will be produced by the SIO, matched by iGA and authorised by the Labour and Social Development Ministry before the money is divided by the Finance and National Economy Ministry,” he said.

The BD4.3bn package comprises eight initiatives including a waiver on electricity and water bills for all accounts – including individuals and commercial – for three months and a delay of bank loan instalments for six months for those impacted by the virus.

The other initiatives include doubling the Liquidity Fund to BD200 million, and exempting tourism facilities from fees for three months, among others.

Finance and National Economy Minister Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said the wages measure was aimed at helping private sector Bahraini employees mitigate the impact of the crisis.

“This is like an insurance against unemployment; we are studying solutions to other segments not included in this move.”

Shura services committee chairwoman Dr Jihad Al Fadhel said the entire world was facing a tough time, but in Bahrain the effect has been to its minimum.

“At least for three months, the fear that Bahraini employees in the private sector might be sacked has been put to rest with this measure; if more is needed then the government will always find something,” she said.

“Thankfully, we are unlike many other countries where citizens are unemployed; we in Bahrain have seen the least impact of the pandemic and solutions are being sought to ensure that we don’t face hardships as others.”

mohammed@gdn.com.bh

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