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New fees plan ‘won’t hit Bahrainis’

Bahrain News
Wed, 16 Nov 2016

AUTHORITIES are studying ways to introduce further fees on government services, MPs were told yesterday. 

Cabinet Affairs Minister Mohammed Al Mutawa said the country was forced to implement the new levies amidst financial constraints to ensure services provided were at par with the approved standards.

However, he reassured MPs that the proposed fees would not affect citizens, particularity low-income Bahraini families. 

He was speaking during parliament’s weekly session yesterday as MPs debated and later approved a proposal to prevent the government from introducing any more fees or increasing existing ones – unless approved through the new four-year action plan that will be presented by the end of 2018.

“We are committed to the four-year Government Action Plan until the end of 2018 and whatever decision we make will take the public interest into account – we are all here to serve the nation,” said Mr Al Mutawa.

“Bahrain has the lowest fees imposed on government services amongst others in the region, despite (the dire) financial and economic situation.

“We don’t want the quality of government services to be affected and the fees we have imposed or will impose will not harm our competitiveness in the region.

“Bahrainis will not shoulder the financial burden and that’s something we are working to achieve – to clarify we are talking about the average Bahraini, not businessmen.”

However, several MPs, including financial and economic affairs committee vice-chairman Mohammed Al Ahmed, said the government levies that have already been adopted have drastically affected ordinary citizens as well and not just the business community.

MP Mohsin Al Bakri said he was lobbying his colleagues to launch a probe into the government’s commitment to implement its four-year plan.

However, his comments were rejected by Parliament and Shura Council Affairs Minister Ghanim Al Buainain who said everything was going according to plan despite financial constraints.

“For example, the Education Ministry is committed to building 10 new schools in the four year period – it has already completed five before the end of the first two years,” he said. Meanwhile, a proposal to have an annual government award for the best performing ministries and government bodies has received support from Mr Al Mutawa, who said it would elevate work done by government employees.