Proposed changes to CR rules scrapped

BAHRAIN’S commercial registration (CR) rules are set for a revamp to incorporate changes to the way business is done these days.

The Shura Council yesterday agreed with MPs to scrap amendments to the 2015 Commercial Registration Law.

The changes would have obliged the Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry, rather than the applicant, to follow up on approvals related to the issue of the CR.

The Cabinet, the Ministry and the Legislation and Legal Opinion Commission asked the legislators to rethink the amendments, saying they were unclear and did not follow cohesive progression.

Shura financial and economic affairs committee chairman Khalid Al Maskati has been tasked to conduct a comprehensive review and recommend necessary upgrades in line with international trade best practices.

New commercial rules were introduced in Bahrain at the end of 2018 to help move the country from a “dangerous” to “safe” category following observations by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force and The American Foreign Tax Compliance Act.

They included amendments to the 2001 Companies Law through a royal decree by His Majesty King Hamad.

Commercial law changes witnessed administrative and commercial punishments increased for CR violations to prevent tax evasion, money laundering and funding of terrorism.

“We are seeking an ambitious, visionary, and forward-thinking makeover,” said Mr Al Maskati.

He believes CR law was “rushed through” in 2015 and although loopholes were addressed and further amendments made in 2018, the world of trade, commerce, finance and economics has since moved on significantly.

“Due to Covid-19, Bahrain’s businesses are not just operating locally. Electronic trade is being carried out across the region and around the world and this means elevating our commercial registrations to international standards.”

He added that limitations to the business licensing system, Sijilat, were under way in co-ordination with the ministry.

The Shura Council also voted on amendments to the 2014 Sand Dredging, Extraction and Sale Law, which would allow sale of sand abroad and ease restrictions despite MPs seeking more restrictions.

The amendments have been referred to a joint National Assembly session but such a session has never been held for legislations in dispute.



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