New CR curbs are sought on expatriates

NEW restrictions, including a minimum capital per business, could be imposed on expatriates wishing to obtain or renew commercial registrations (CRs) in Bahrain, if MPs have their way.

Industry and Commerce Minister Abdulla bin Adel Fakhro has been summoned for an urgent meeting on Sunday by the parliamentary probe committee into nationals’ low standards of living.

The committee, headed by Ahmed Al Salloom, met yesterday and reached 23 conclusions and 35 recommendations to tackle the issues causing a fall in the standards of living.

The meeting followed intensive inspection visits to markets, shopping centres and supply sources over the past three months, besides expert studies on the cost of living, spending and savings.

Mr Al Salloom said allowing expats to obtain or renew CRs openly without restrictions damaged the local market and nationals’ ability to have successful businesses and sources of living.

“There have to be new tougher restrictions that limit expatriates’ ability to obtain or renew CRs, terms and conditions need to be updated with nationals’ interests coming first,” said Mr Al Salloom, who is also the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Society chairman and Bahrain Chamber board member.

“Allowing expats to obtain or renew CRs openly without any prerequisites, compatibility requirements or need in the local market has had a huge negative impact on business flow,” he added.

“This, in return, has affected the living standards of Bahraini businessmen and their employees.

“This is why we feel that there has to be a change in the way CRs are currently issued; maybe impose a minimum capital per business for expat businesses.

“All options are on the table as we meet the Industry and Commerce Minister urgently to push for the move.”

Meanwhile, Mr Fakhro told MPs in writing that more than 11,500 companies registered in Bahrain are 100 per cent owned by expatriates.

He added that the 11,664 CRs represent 15 per cent of the total active CRs in the market – 80,126.

The minister said that 16pc of active CRs – 13,106 – were partly owned by expatriates while 5,052 CRs were cancelled and 188 companies liquidated during 2023.

“The most prominent reasons for the cancellation of a CR include legal and regulatory procedures applied in various cases such as the failure to renew on time or the desire of CR holders for voluntary cancellation,” said Mr Fakhro.

“Reasons also include selling the establishment or transferring its ownership as well as cancellation by the licensing authorities due to violations and non-fulfilment of requirements.

“In most of the mentioned cases, the CR can be revived by rectifying the situation.”

According to Mr Fakhro, the most common legal form adopted by these companies is Limited Liability Company with their total capital value in Bahrain amounting to BD1,753,506,842.

The most attractive areas for foreign companies in the economic sector in Bahrain include professional, scientific and technical activities, information and communication as well as administrative and support services activities.




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