8,000 make an Easy Exit

The much talked about Easy Exit Scheme concluded yesterday with about 8,000 expats availing of it. The scheme, introduced early this year as a limited period clemency to this workforce, offered irregular workers – those who either been overstaying after the expiry of their visas or violated the terms of employment rendering the visa invalid, a chance to leave the kingdom.

At the time of launch an estimated 40,000 irregular workers were believed to be residents in the kingdom. These included 5,700 Bangladeshies, around 3,000 Indians with Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Filipinos and other nationalities making up the rest.

Most of them also could not afford to pay the accumulated immigration fines for overstaying which ran into hundreds of Bahraini Dinars.

Under the scheme, the fines were waived and a nominal BD15 was levied on those who overstayed on work visas and BD 25 for those had visit visas. The final tally of the scheme beneficiaries is likely to increase as hundreds of people have submitted their applications in thier respective embassies and can leave the kingdom by the end of the next month.

When asked, Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) officials said that there was no plan to extend or revise the scheme.

“It showed that many would take the chance if the opprtunities were provided. Be legal and live legal in the Kingdom was our appeal” they told DT.

The Labour Ministry plans act tough once the scheme expires and nearly two dozen teams have already started conducting inspections round- the- clock to identify the irregular workers.

The LMRA has prepared a data-base of all legtimate workers and would go to them directly in order to weed out the irregulars among them with the help of various ministries.

The officials are also visiting offices of airlines asking them to verify the validity of visas of people comong to Bahrain for employment. “If the papers are not in order, they will be sent back in the same plane,” the LMRA officials said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief of Mission & Counsellor in Bangladesh Embassy Md Saiful Islam thanked the Bahraini authorities for the scheme wich enabled several irregular workers to leave the island without any problems.

Speaking to DT, he said that the Kingdom could accommodate the remaining workforce, which was skilled but unemployed, as bringing new ones would take some time.

The Bamgladesh Government will extend all cooperation in this regard, he added.