x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

FNC will tackle agency fees for domestic help

FNC members will grill the Minister of Economy, Sultan Al Mansouri, at this week's session.

ABU DHABI // High agency fees for bringing domestic workers into the UAE must be monitored, a Federal National Council member will argue this week.

At the FNC session on Tuesday, Ali Al Nuaimi (Ajman) will point out to the Minister of Economy how hiring agencies are exploiting residents with fees between Dh8,000 and Dh12,000.

“The fees are not unified between the different agencies,” he said. “It is all commercial and some agencies are not monitored.”

He said that once the fees were paid and a maid was brought to the country, if she decided to leave or was not compatible with the family, agencies would not refund the fees.

In his capacity as the head of the Higher Committee for Consumer Protection, Sultan Al Mansouri will be asked about the discrepancies and what acts the ministry is taking to monitor the agencies.

“Through discussions I will raise a proposal for an agreement between the UAE and countries maids come from on fees to bring them to the UAE,” he said.

Mr Al Nuaimi also plans to question Mr Al Mansouri over the ministry’s work to encourage Emirati exports.

Other members who plan to question Mr Al Mansouri include Marwan bin Ghalita (Dubai), about the ministry’s efforts to monitor economic activity in the country’s free zones, and Mohammed Al Raqbani, about support given to small and medium enterprises and how to help them to benefit from the country’s Expo 2020 victory.

“Basically, the country won Expo 2020, and this file is now given to the country, not the emirate. The question is what the Ministry of Economy is doing to support small and medium-size companies in getting investment opportunities for Expo 2020,” he said.

He said benefits of the event should not go only to international companies, but that SMEs should also profit.

“The Ministry of Economy should let SMEs know of what opportunities are available for them,” he said. “What support are we willing to give to these companies?”

He said it was now the ministry’s turn to reach out to all emirates to offer insight on all Expo 2020 prospects.

“People think that it is like any other exhibition,” he said.

During the second half of the session, members will debate the anti-fraud bill, replacing the outdated 35-year-old law.

According to Mr Al Nuaimi, amendments made to the law will increase its coverage to combat service and contractor fraud, as well as commercial fraud.

Even though commercial fraud was minimal, Mr Al Nuaimi said it was still a concern in respect to counterfeit goods, including bags, toys, clothes, electronics and car parts. Occasionally cases involve fake food and medication.

Those found to be breaking the law will be subject to two years in prison and/or a fine between Dh50,000 and Dh250,000.

Those who commit commercial fraud in human or animal food products or medication could face the same prison term and up to Dh1 million in fines with the new law, up from the previous Dh10,000.

The new bill also punishes establishments that advertise bogus prizes and those with unclear product descriptions on items for sale.

Contractors will also be subject to the law if they fail to meet contract specifications.

The public session will be held at the FNC headquarters in Abu Dhabi, starting at 9am.

osalem@thenational.ae