Manama: Around 17 per cent of the employees in the public sector in Bahrain are foreigners, the parliament affairs minister has said.

“The numbers of foreigners being recruited in the civil service have been steadily decreasing, going down from 791 new employees in 2011 to 593 in 2015 and to 173 in 2016,” Ghanem Al Buainain said in his answer to a query by a lawmaker.

The cost for hiring non-Bahrainis in the departments of the public sector in 2016 was 223,000 Bahraini Dinars per month, the minister added.

The foreigners were hired after the authorities checked whether there were Bahrainis who had the profile and met the requirements to hold the positions.

“All the foreigners hired in the public service have short-term contracts since per the kingdom’s regulations, only Bahraini citizens could be recruited permanently,” Al Buainain said in his answer to the questions by MP Jalal Mahfoodh, posted by Bahraini daily Al Bilad on Thursday. 

“At the end of the contract, there is a full assessment to check whether the position could be given to a Bahraini who meets the requirements.”

Under Bahrain’s rules, no position is advertised abroad until it is announced in the local media or checked with the job database at the Civil Service Bureau.

Al Buainain insisted that the Bureau was working on the existence of competent Bahrainis who would replace the current department heads and employees in all the positions in the public sector to ensure a smooth continuity.

Amid concerns about unemployment among native communities and the presence of large numbers of foreigners, several lawmakers in Gulf countries are pushing for boosting employment opportunities towards the citizens and replacing expatriates.

However, officials have stressed that the mere fact of holding a university degree does not automatically qualify the citizen to replace a foreigner and that other requirements had to be met.