New law to ensure food safety stocks

A NEW-LOOK legislation that would make it compulsory for the government to have clearly-labelled food reserves will be debated by the Shura Council on Sunday.

The 17-article legislation, presented by five Shura members led by services committee chairwoman Dr Jihad Al Fadhel, is a spin-off from earlier proposed amendments to the 2015 Consumer Protection Law.

The government had informed the Shura Council in January that they needed to review the proposed amendments.

Under the new legislation, a clear indication of the minimum amount required in percentage terms of safety stock would be an obligation.

The Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry in co-ordination with relevant authorities will have to draw a framework, suggest plans and prepare a database and ensure the continuation of necessary items.

Safety stock is a term used by logisticians to describe a level of extra stock that is maintained to mitigate risk of a shortfall caused by uncertainties in supply and demand.

Adequate safety stock levels permit business operations to proceed according to their plans, and, in this case, an ability to feed a nation in troubled times.

All suppliers will be obliged to present the ministry with details of labelled items within a week.

The ministry would also have the right to launch an electronic link with suppliers to check directly on available stocks.

Shura public utilities and environment affairs committee has reservations on an article that defines the punishment for improper storage as a fine between BD100 and BD5,000 – which it believes should be amended to include jail time.

Traders cheating the system would be punishable with no less than a year in jail, fined between BD1,000 and BD10,000, or both.

The Cabinet has allocated BD2.5m this year in the 2021-2022 state budget as operating costs for securing strategic stockpiles.

The GDN has learnt that Shura’s amendments are intended to be the mechanism for its operations.

The GDN published last year that Bahrain has created strategic food stock reserves for six months because of the exceptional global health crisis.

It has been created on orders from His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince Prime Minister, to offset possible emergencies that Covid-19 would create.

This buffer stock has been created in a record time, said Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed Alzayani at the time.

He said the ministry received directives to ensure food reserves on March 8, 2020. From March 24 to April 2, 2020 import and storage agreements for a six-month period were signed and import operations were started.

The ministry’s role comprises controlling and inspecting the private sector to ensure food reserves are available under all circumstances, he pointed out.

However, when asked by the relevant committee for their opinion on the new law, the ministry said it was not concerned.

The Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry is still to submit its opinion on the matter.




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