MANAMA: Bahrain’s main business body yesterday launched an urgent appeal to scrap the new fees for Commercial Registration (CR).
The Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) said it has requested His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, to reverse the decision stating many small and medium enterprises might go bankrupt.
The new fees which are 20-fold higher for some business categories like construction and industrial activities were announced by the Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry via an official statement on August 2.
In an official letter to HRH the Premier, the BCCI expressed “deep concern over small and medium enterprises and all businesses in general, which might go bankrupt or exit the market as a result (of the increase in fees)”.
The chamber also reinstated the importance of being consulted as the representative of the private sector, prior to having any laws and regulations relevant to the private sector implemented, said the statement.
Announcing the new fees, the ministry had said that it was implementing a decision approved by the Cabinet last year on special fees to be levied on commercial activities.
The revised fees, it said will take effect from September 22 and asked all owners of commercial establishments, individuals, companies and institutions to check the fees applicable on their activities by visiting the website of the Commercial Registration Portal (www.sijilat.com).
The ministry also called on traders to review their activities in the Commercial Register to determine whether they would like to keep them or cancel any activity, keeping in mind the new fees.
It also said the new CR fees as payable to it would not include the fees of other licensed official bodies.
The GDN reported on August 8 that some construction firms in Bahrain were attempting to bypass the 20-fold increase in the annual fee by changing their commercial registrations.
Attempts by business owners to switch their CRs from ‘construction’ to ‘building maintenance’ in order to avoid paying the increased fee, had prompted the ministry to issue a warning that companies making the change would not be entitled to engage in any construction activity, said the report.
The fee hike had been criticised by Bahrain Contractors Society board member Abdulaziz Shamlan, who had said it could have a major impact on small and medium sized companies.
The report quoted Mr Shamlan as saying that there were more than 10,000 CRs in the construction sector including small contractors, which meant that the ministry would collect more than BD10 million a year through the revised fees.