DOHA: The business community in Qatar is opposed to changes in sponsorship and exit permit rules and says the new system being proposed would hit them and the national economy hard.
The system (sponsorship and exit permit rules) should be changed in such a way that the interest of both businessmen and workers is protected, said the community.
Businessmen are of the view that proposed changes are entirely in favour of foreign workers.
A meeting of top businessmen and senior officials from the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on the issue took place on Wednesday.
It aimed to seek businessmen’s opinion on changes the government has proposed to sponsorship and exit permit rules recently.
When the proposed changes were announced to the media, the government had said it would seek views of the business community and the Advisory Council.
Prominent businessman, Ali Al Khalaf, who took part in the meeting, told local Arabic daily Al Arab that the draft law (with proposed amendments to sponsorship and exit permit rules) was not circulated at the meeting to businessmen for review.
The proposed changes were conveyed verbally by officials of both ministries at the meeting.
“We basically discussed how we would be dealing with foreign employees once the new system is in place, how workers’ jobs would end and how they would be allowed to switch jobs as per conditions indicated in the proposed law,” Al Khalaf told the daily.
He said ministry officials were clear about the changes being proposed.
“But I said that if implemented, the changed system would create confusion in the business community.
The changes will have a negative impact on businesses and the national economy.
“We call on authorities to make such changes in the sponsorship and exit permit system that would help protect the interest of businessmen and workers,” he said.
Al Khalaf said there was the need to hold more meetings between businessmen and senior government representatives on the issue.
“It is important that the viewpoint of the business community is taken before making any changes to the system,” he added.
The businessmen who spoke at the meeting included Yusuf Jassem Al Darwish and Sheikh Ali bin Hamad bin Khalid Al Thani.
Al Darwish told Al Arab that there was the need for an in-depth study of the proposal to ensure that the interest of Qatari companies and citizens was protected.
Sheikh Ali, agreeing with Al Khalaf and Al Darwish, said it was important to ensure that businesses are not harmed by new rules.