Commercial Registration fees review urged for Covid-hit sectors in Bahrain

MPs have urged the government to review Commercial Registration (CR) requirements for businesses adversely impacted by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Owners of several businesses closed since March, such as sheesha cafés and gyms, have approached MPs to either get their annual fees waived or postponed.

Proprietors of salons, restaurants and cafés, and tourism facilities that have resumed limited operations have also demanded a similar reprieve.

Renewal fees in addition to activity fees range between BD100 to BD500 depending on the services provided.

Tamkeen asked owners to renew their CRs by paying all fees to be eligible for the Business Continuity Support Programme, under which BD1,050 to BD12,000 have been given to businesses over a three-month period as financial aid.

However, the Cabinet last week ordered Tamkeen to prepare a further support package for affected business for July to September.

Parliament financial and economic affairs committee chairman Ahmed Al Salloom, who is also Bahrain Bloc president, said the review would help keep the businesses afloat post Covid-19 rather than collapse by year’s end.

“Paying CR renewal of BD100 is not an issue as it is an annual levy, although many closed businesses consider it a financial burden,” said the MP who is also the chairman of the Bahrain Small and Medium Enterprises Development Society and a Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry board member.

“It is more about the costs of activities as it is illogical to pay health fees of up to BD500 when a sheesha coffee shop is closed or a restaurant or café is only providing home deliveries or takeaway services.”

He said Tamkeen had stopped payments to several businesses because they had not renewed their CRs; many had either borrowed or asked others to help just to ensure they can pay rent, expat employees and other expenses.

Parliament foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman Mohammed Al Sissi, who is also National Action Charter Bloc president, said affected businesses should only be charged renewal fees while a grace period should be provided for other levies.

“Unprecedented circumstances require some way out for businesses to survive,” he said.

“On a normal day, the affected businesses are all profitable but the prolonged closure or limited operations have negatively impacted their sustainability.

“There has to be a case-by-case review with activity fees being slashed, dropped or postponed, and then gradually reinstated when things return to normal.”

Insta Café owner Fouad Al Nakkal said it was unfair to pay CR fees when his place has been closed since March.

“Fees are for active services; my business has been closed since March which means I paid for 12 months while I had business for only eight months,” said the sheesha cafe owners’ spokesman.

Exemption

“Why do we have to pay BD500 for serving and seating activity at a sheesha café when the Health Ministry continues to shut us down despite us pledging to follow all preventive measures due to Covid-19?”

The government paid wages of Bahraini employees in the private sector along with bus and taxi drivers and kindergarten teachers for April, May and June with six affected sectors only eligible for 50pc payments for July, August and September.

It also exempted everyone from paying electricity and water bills and waived municipal, tourism and labour fees for April to June.

However, from July to September, Bahraini households are exempt from electricity and water bills and labour fees have been slashed by 50pc with affected sectors exempt fully under criteria to be determined.

Rents

All rents of government property for the three months until last month had also been dropped.

Besides Tamkeen grants to affected businesses, others were given low-interest loans under the Liquidity Fund, which has been doubled from BD100 million to BD200m.

Bank loan instalments for Bahrainis have also been deferred for six months.

This was all part of the BD4.3 billion government support package and another smaller package that followed to offset the impact of the pandemic.

 

Source: https://www.zawya.com/mena/en/business/story/Commercial_Registration_fees_review_urged_for_Covidhit_sectors_in_Bahrain-SNG_179076051/

 

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