Dubai (PTI): In a move that could impact the huge expatriate community in Bahrain as well as the businesses, the government has decided to charge a levy of 200 Bahraini diners every two years for work permits.

The cabinet, at a session chaired by Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa on Sunday, approved the BD200 (Rs 21,000 approx) levy. The fees package also includes a monthly BD10 payment for each expatriate worker -- to come into effect from July 1 next year.

At the meeting, the Prime Minister recommended the need to strike a balance between labour market reform requirements and its development.

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

However, Labour Minister Majeed Al Alawi denied that the cost of employing foreign workers would almost double.