An Arab expatriate who works at a well-known optician chain recently called me and presented a unique problem.
He wanted to know if I could help him address an issue he was facing, since he had exhausted all means to do so.
However, before he could explain in detail, I did tell him that though I do not address people’s problems through my writings, I would give him a patient hearing and do what I could to help.
I also told him that I receive many calls from people, friends and otherwise, who want me to write about their issues so that these could reach the concerned authorities.
I must say here as well that whenever I have raised issues that concern the general public, the relevant authorities have seldom, if at all, contacted me to try and get to the bottom of the problem.
Coming back to this gentleman and his grievance, he said he had approached the National Commission for the Regulation of Occupations and Health Services to renew for another year of his commercial licence.
But, since he was late by three days as a result of the New Year holiday and some other commitments, he was asked to pay BD600.
Taken aback, he wanted to know why this was so and was surprised to be told that the “late fee” is BD600, whether one is late by a day or a full year.
That, apparently, is the way it is.
To say the least, this is unbelievable and defies all logic.
After all, it was only a three-day delay and in case a fine were to be levied, it should be commensurate with the overdue period.
This gentleman said he tried all avenues and failed to meet any senior official who could perhaps help him.
He was, however, told that the only way he could get around this was to prove that he was outside Bahrain.
Since this wasn’t the case, he refused to do so.
To be honest, I tried through my contacts to meet someone who would explain to me the whole affair but have, unfortunately, received the same answers.
This is appalling.
The question is, if we in Bahrain wish to attract investors and encourage investments, there has to be some flexibility and confidence in the investor.
It is, therefore, necessary to look at the spirit of law rather than be rigid, which can be a barrier.