Bahrain’s Labour Minister and Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) board chairman Jameel Humaidan said on Sunday that implementing a minimum wage policy will not have a direct impact on reducing the unemployment rate among the low- skilled Bahrainis.
He explained further that if they imposed a standard minimum wage for both Bahrainis and expatriates, the wage increase would only benefit expatriate workers.
The comments came as part of LMRA’s recommendations in response to questions by the parliamentary committee, led by Ahmed Al Salloum, in charge of probing falling living standards for citizens, reported Bahrain’s Gulf Daily News.
He also explained that the process which is costly can create a discriminating minimum wage by giving a higher value to Bahrainis over expatriates, creating a further rift between the labour.
He explained further economies that were able to apply the minimum wage system have a lower percentage of expatriate workers in their labour markets.
Nonetheless, he added that an increase in the minimum wage had a direct impact on the cost of recruiting foreign workers.
Humaidan said the extent to which Bahraini workers would be able to compete in the labour market with their expertise and skills should be taken into account before raising fees for expatriate workers.
He also added that the current fees that are imposed on employers in return for issuing work permits to foreign workers were currently being studied by the ministry and the authority based on an urgent proposal received from Parliament recently.
Bahraini citizens have a minimum wage of BD 300 to BD450 depending on their degree; however, the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFTBU) has made various calls to raise the minimum wage for Bahraini workers to BD 700 (US$1,857) to be able to meet the current living standards of the country.
The country has no minimum wage for non-nationals and private sector workers.