Slow 'Kafala' Reform To Harm Diversification Ambitions
BMI View: Qatar's proposals for labour reform - including an overhaul of the controversial 'kafala' system - will not be implemented quickly. The slow pace of reform will continue to damage the country's international image, in turn harming the government's ambitions to turn Qatar into a knowledge-based economy.
Qatar unveiled tentative plans for labour reform on May 14, in a press conference that largely fell short of human rights groups' expectations. The government announced a series of changes meant to address concerns over the country's treatment of migrant workers, including the eventual abolition of the controversial labour sponsorship system, known as 'kafala'. Yet no timetable was given, and the proposed reforms will now have to go through the advisory Shura Council, as well as Qatar's Chamber of Commerce and government departments, for approval. This is in line with our view that comprehensive labour reform, while inevitable over the longer term, will be slow and gradual - damaging Qatar's international image in the process.
Reforms Good On Paper, But Implementation Is Key