x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Minister of Labour replaced by Minister of State at FNC debate on Emiratisation

Days before a debate on Emiratisation is held before the Federal National Council, members received upsetting news of a change in plans.

ABU DHABI // The Minister of Labour will not attend an FNC debate on Emiratisation this week.

Council members were informed Saqr Ghobash would not be taking part just days before the scheduled discussion.

The FNC is to call for changes to the labour law, subsidies for Emirati salaries in the private sector and the introduction of Emiratisation quotas in an effort to reduce the high unemployment rate.

Replacing Mr Ghobash will be Abdullah Ghobash, a Minister of State appointed in March and the chairman of Tanmia, the National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority.

The decision to replace the Minister of Labour was made by the Cabinet on November 11 – just a week before the session.

Humaid Al Qattami, Minister of Education, is also due to attend the debate in his role as chairman of the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources.

At last week’s opening session of the council, Hamad Al Rahoomi (Dubai), head of the Emiratisation committee, told the FNC Speaker, Mohammed Al Murr (Dubai), that the Minister of Labour should come, not the head of Tanmia.

“We prepared our report in the committee while meeting with officials from the Ministry of Labour, including Minister Saqr Ghobash, and the undersecretary,” he said. “All discussions were with them and they need to be at the final public debate.”

But since the committee meetings, Abdullah Ghobash has been appointed as a Minister and to the role of heading Tanmia, replacing Saqr Ghobash and overseeing the country’s Emiratisation file.

Mr Al Rahoomi made it clear that Saqr Ghobash should be present because the Ministry of Labour was a vital part of the debate, but has since been told that the Cabinet’s decision is final.

Mr Al Rahoomi said today he had made his peace with the decision.

Although Abdullah Ghobash now takes on a new role, Mr Al Rahoomi said it should not stand in the way of the much-anticipated debate.

“I am not worried, even if he is new he should know everything,” he said. “Now the issue is in front of him, and so is the report we prepared.”

“We are not expecting any apologies on his part for not being able to answer any of our queries. To me this not a problem. A minister present representing the government is what is important.”

The debate will start at 9am on Tuesday at the council’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi. It is rare to have two ministers at a debate, Mr Al Rahoomi said.

“This shows the importance of the issue,” he said. “It touches on every Emirati family.”

osalem@thenational.ae