By IE Sunday December 2, 08:18 PM In a move that is expected to benefit Indian job seekers, Bahrain will allow companies to employ more foreign workers with the relaxation of the hiring policy from the middle of the next year.

The percentage of Bahrainis that must be employed by private sector firms is being lowered from July 1 next year, allowing companies to hire more foreigners, it was announced.

"The private sector will still be required to employ a certain percentage of Bahrainis" even after the new rule comes into effect, Labour Minister Majeed Al Alawi was quoted as saying by the Gulf Daily News.

"However, they will get some concession in the percentage to be maintained. It will vary from one category to another. For example, the construction sector - which now has to maintain 10 per cent Bahrainisation - will be required to maintain only 8 per cent starting from July," he said.

The Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) will start charging BD200 (Rs 20,930) every two years for expat work visas and employers will also pay a monthly levy of BD10 (Rs 1046) for each foreign worker starting on July 1 next year.

Businessmen have criticised the move and claimed it could put medium and small firms out of business.