Citizens, expatriates to be allowed free movement across GCC

Citizens, expatriates to be allowed free movement across GCC     

RIYADH: 7 August 2014

GCC labor ministers are expected to finalize a draft study by November aimed at easing work and travel of both citizens and residents across member states, local media said.

The move, however, is poised to heighten fears among GCC officials, who say free movement may have an adverse impact on job nationalization in GCC private sector companies, a local daily reported.

These officials have maintained that a decision to allow expats to move around freely between GCC states is risky if not governed by certain regulations, the paper said.

“This move may not be appropriate since priority should be given to GCC citizens in order to ensure the success of nationalization schemes,” said Abdulrahim Naqi, secretary of the Federation of GCC Chambers (FGCCC).

The labor ministers are currently exploring a series of moves to enhance job opportunities among GCC citizens and ease restrictions for expats, Kuwaiti Social Affairs Minster Hind Al-Sabeeh told a local daily.

The Kuwaiti minister, however, declined to divulge further information on the issue.

Fawzi Al-Majdali, Kuwait’s secretary-general of the Manpower and Government Restructuring Program (MGRP), concurred with Naqi, saying such a move would create fierce competition for jobs, hindering nationalization initiatives.

“Nationalization rates are on the increase thanks to effective schemes,” he said. “Around 4,000 to 5,000 of our citizens have already taken on jobs previously done by expats.”

“Loopholes in private sector companies still exist, an issue which can be resolved through government support and allowances,” he said. “Kuwait offers huge incentive to the nationalization programs even though the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar are more inclined to recruit GCC citizens.”

GCC officials explored a series of measures and plans in June aimed at enhancing job opportunities in the private sector and coming up with initiatives that will increase free movement, the paper said.


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