AN 18-member board of Bahrain’s main business body, which will be elected tomorrow, will have to play a vital role in reshaping the economy amidst “challenging times”, stressed a top government minister.
Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed Al Zayani said the ministry was “excited” to welcome the new board, adding that the government would maintain an “open door policy” with the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).
Mr Al Zayani was speaking yesterday as he hosted the candidates contesting the 29th BCCI elections over a luncheon at the BCCI headquarters in Sanabis.
“We look forward to working with the new board members in adapting the new changes that we have to face,” Mr Al Zayani told the GDN on the sidelines of the event.
“As we know, we are going through challenging times where we have to reshape our economy and the chamber plays a vital role in that process.
“The ministry is very excited to welcome the new group and we expect the team to take on what has been done and build upon what exists.
“We have an open door policy and will be happy to sit down with the (new board) and see what new initiatives they have, which will help us to understand their plans and strategies for the chamber which in turn will help the economy.”
Seventy-two candidates, including 12 women, are contesting the polls which will be held from 8am to 10pm at the Isa Cultural Centre in Juffair, in which 18 seats are up for grabs.
“Many records this year – the largest number of candidates, the largest number of voters and the largest number of female candidates, all of these are a testament to the democratic process that we have in Bahrain,” added Mr Al Zayani.
“And we see the evolution of the process where we have more inclusion and more representation.
“In this year’s elections those who emerge successful, I hope, will represent a wider spectrum of the industrial and commercial base in Bahrain.
“And those who may not make it, we say, that there are many things that they can still do and support the chamber, be part of the various committees or working through their own initiatives.
“On Saturday we hope to see a testimonial day as will look forward to the maximum number of voters to turn up.”
A total of 32,745 businessmen and women have registered to cast their ballot as 26 polling booths have been set up at the venue.
The BCCI witnessed a major restructuring of its board in 2016 with Ahmed Bin Hindi and Abdulhakeem Al Shammary replacing Nabeel Kanoo and Khalid Al Amin on its seven-member executive committee.
Mr Kanoo resigned in January last year citing allegations of nepotism, unjustified spending, internal rifts and a monopoly on foreign trips.
In February last year board member Othman Al Rayes also resigned alleging the role of BCCI chairman Khalid Almoayed had been hijacked by other members and general body resolutions on membership fees were bypassed.
BCCI board also passed a vote of no-confidence in July 2016 against its former chief executive and voted to replace him with Dr Khalid Al Ruwaihi.
After the board reshuffle Mr Almoayed resigned in 2016, citing frustration at alleged interference by the Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry, but the board rejected his resignation.