LMRA to speed up services

By Sandeep Singh Grewal ,  Posted on » Thursday, March 15, 2012

PLANS are in the pipeline to speed up the registration of foreign workers at Bahrain International Airport (BIA). The Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) is set to open more counters and hire more staff in a bid to eliminate lengthy queues.

It will coincide with a major expansion of the airport, in which its passenger capacity will be tripled to 27 million a year, said LMRA chief executive officer Ausamah Abdulla Al Absi.

“We are in talks with the Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) as part of its expansion plans by 2014 to have more counters and manpower to assist workers in registering their details including their fingerprints,” said Mr Al Absi.

“We suffered 22 down times (glitches) in the system from last year until March.

“This led to delays and queues, which we intend to solve by having a back-up system to have a systematic and flawless service.”

Mr Al Absi said people needed to be aware that the LMRA system was linked to the Health Ministry, General Organisation for Social Insurance, Interior Ministry and the General Directorate of Nationality, Passports and Residence.

“So if one system is down it affects others and results in a backlog,” he said.

“The entire process of registering details at the LMRA counter takes about 45 seconds.

“The number of applications we receive daily on an average ranges from 1,000 to 2,000.

“I have already sanctioned overtime for my staff to clear the (application) backlog if it is more than five days old.”

Mr Al Absi said officials were also mulling over increasing its team of labour inspectors.

“We have 58 labour inspectors who not only conduct inspections but check records of companies,” he said.

 “They go to hotels or construction sites as part of their duties, but I want the people’s perception to change as they are not monsters but their friends.”

 Mr Al Absi pledged to equip labour inspectors with “soft skills” in order to help them create the right work environment.

 The official said work permit applications were hit by the unrest in the labour market last year, but recovered during the second quarter of last year

He added investors had showed confidence in Bahrain that resulted in good response from the market towards the end of 2011.

 Parliament last week voted in favour of extending a freeze on the controversial BD10 monthly labour fees levied on businessmen for another two years. Mr Al Absi said all options were on the table.

“It is being studied and debated at high levels,” he revealed.

“A high percentage of the money collected is injected into the private sector to increase skills of Bahraini workers.”