Free medical care for citizens urged

A CONSTITUTIONAL amendment that would force the government to provide all necessary healthcare free of cost for citizens has been approved unanimously by a parliamentary committee.

“We need the free guarantee because the government could turn around any day and decide to charge people for medical care,” said Parliament’s legislative and legal affairs committee chairman Fadhel Al Sawad in a Press conference held remotely yesterday.

“It is true that health insurance is set to be introduced soon in Bahrain and people would get access to government and private medical institutions through policies paid for by the government entirely,” he added.

“But that could change as the government classifies services as free or chargeable.

“Agreed, the government will continue providing services but may start charging for some, with the government facing a cash crunch.”

The government has been authorised by Parliament and Shura Council to borrow up to BD15 billion until the end of next year.

Mr Al Sawad added that another constitutional amendment has also been referred to Parliament Speaker Fouzia Zainal but was not aware about its details.

He added that the new advocacy law, which was originally presented by the Shura Council in 2008 but has never seen the light, will be presented in a totally new, revamped version soon.

“Advocacy as a profession is very complex and the legislation presented by the Shura Council 13 years ago is not up to standard,” he said.

“A complete makeover with the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry is in process during the five-month National Assembly recess.”

The committee will work on 23 pending legislations to be presented in October.

“We were under pressure to complete legislations that the committee is directly concerned with, and give legal opinion to all other parliamentary committees on bills they are debating,” said Mr Al Sawad.

“We have been handed 52 new legislations and managed to complete 29.

“This compares to 121 legislations presented for opinion by other committees of which 104 was complete and 17 remain with us as we plan to push them out of the way soon to focus on our core work.”

Mr Al Sawad said new rules that would allow members of dissolved political societies through final court verdicts to run for next year’s general elections or memberships of any society, federation or association board has not been presented to his committee for review.

The GDN has learnt that the proposal would amend the current legislations from a life ban to only five years.




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