ABU DHABI // The Minister of Labour pledged yesterday to reform the sponsorship system, but said the UAE did not intend to abolish it.
His statement came in response to a question by Yousef al Neaimi, a member of the FNC, who asked the minister to outline his position as Gulf countries such as Bahrain and Kuwait begin to adopt measures to abolish the system.
"It is not acceptable for the rights of workers to be damaged," said Mr al Neaimi.
Sponsorship law dictates that workers or people who want to start businesses in the UAE must have a local partner. Expatriate labour costs the UAE Dh55 billion a year, according to FNC figures, including providing services.
An urgent Emiratisation plan was being prepared in the next three to four weeks by Tanmia, the country's employment authority, in collaboration with the private sector, said Saqr Ghobash, the Minister of Labour.
"We are confident locals can enter the workforce and are capable of competing," he said.