Civil Service Bureau President Absent from National Employment Project, Is It Being Taken Seriously?
2019-02-28 - 5:41 am
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The Bahraini Government not taking the decision to abolish the parallel Bahrainization system, and the absence of the head of the Civil Service Bureau, Ahmad Al-Zayed from the press conference held on Monday, February 25, 2018 by five ministers and the CEO of the Tamkeen Fund, are enough to know that the project launched this week by the Prime Minister under the old repeated title, "the National Employment Project" is nothing but circumvention by the government, who is running from the main problem, which is: the employment of Bahrainis.
The absence of the head of the Civil Service Bureau responsible for employment in the government sector is a shocking move, by which the government wants to indirectly tell unemployed Bahrainis what the naturalized businessman Yousef Mashal told them a few days ago: The government is not bound by you!
One of the most ironic aspects of this press conference is that in the nine front seats reserved for the press sat at least four foreign journalists and Bahrain state television reporter. Meanwhile, Bahraini journalists were distributed, as a minority, among the rest remaining seats. This reveals the reality of the situation, as this event on the employment of Bahrainis was being mainly reported by the news agency, state television and some newspapers, who occupy jobs that should be occupied by Bahrainis.
The government has held on to money and profit more than the Bahraini citizens themselves, by its adherence to the parallel Bahrainization system, which basically allows the merchant to pay the state money instead of commiting to maintaining the rate of Bahrainization, as well as its adherence to the flexible work permit system as a means of collecting funds by increasing the amounts imposed on unorganized labor, leaving the door open for illegal labor.
The government did not concede any of the systems that Bahrainis object to, along with the labor bodies that represent them, such as the General Federation of Workers Trade Unions in Bahrain or the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In its new project, the government has not talked about any steps that regarding the most important issue, namely, "employment." It will pay temporary amounts and subsidies from the unemployment insurance's pocket, which is a huge financial body (more than 583 million dinars), collected by cutting 1% of Bahraini employees' salaries in both the private and public sectors. The government has long aspired to reconsider its way of management and investment, and the opportunity has now come.
One of the paragraphs of the National Employment Project, announced on Monday, says the government has made an amendment to the Unemployment Insurance Act. It did not; however, talk about the details of these amendments, whose content will be revealed when presented to the House of Representatives.
The government, whose percentage of foreign employees amounted to 9% until 2005, has now reached 16.6%. MP Ahmad Al-Salloum says that the percentage of foreigners working in the government jumped to 28% following the voluntary retirement program. The government has not spoken of any plan to replace the foreigners with Bahrainis in these positions, and even the person in charge of employment in the government sector was absent from the conference. The attendance of Minister Ghanim Al-Buainain, who represents the service bureau before parliament, is not enough.
"We refused to be the tenth choice in hiring. Being the first choice is now an ambition that is hard to achieve" wrote lawyer Abdullah Hashim on Twitter. "Granting 30 dinars as compensation for unemployment or 50 dinars is a charity and not a right we are asking for, the right of citizens to work is constitutional and today we are witnessing a flagrant violation of the Constitution by the authorities".
In the midst of all this, the government has not made any bold decisions, such as restricting some sectors to Bahrainis, such as accounting, or human resources management, for example, which is something that has been done by other Gulf states. Saudi Arabia has issued successive decisions to eliminate unemployment, by limiting jobs to only Saudis in a number of sectors, so employers cannot hire any foreigners in these sectors.
The Saudi program is called the Oriented Naturalization Program. In one of the sectors, such as the retail and sales sector, there are 27 areas of work that have been restricted to Saudi nationals only, as well as the gold and jewellery sector. The implementation of the program is followed by four ministries including the Ministry of Interior.
Thus, the project aims to Saudize more than one million jobs, offering them to Saudi citizens instead of foreigners.
No specific employment procedures
Here lies the Achilles heel of Bahrain and the core of the expected failure. There is no oriented Bahrainization of any sector and no replacement of foreigners in government jobs. There's nothing of that sort. There's nothing but the money deducted (1%) from the salaries of employees and workers to be spent later on sedatives and painkillers to temporarily alleviate the suffering of the unemployed. If there is any saying that summarizes all this, it's the cruel idiom that says "let him bathe in his own blood". This is the essence of the so-called "National Employment Project".
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