Ration card and loan deferral plans get go-ahead

TWO major proposals aimed at enhancing the living standards of Bahrainis have been given the go-ahead by MPs.

Parliament yesterday unanimously voted in favour of introducing a ration card with a fixed sum of money to cover the cost of essential items for low-income families and pensioners.

They also approved another proposal to defer all bank loan instalments until the end of the year for Bahrainis and local businesses.

Both proposals were submitted by MPs led by Bahrainisation Committee chairman Ebrahim Al Nefaei.

The current loan deferral option expires on June 30. The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) has been urged to encourage the government to back the proposal so arrangements could be made with banks.

Mr Al Nefaei said the aim was to allow people, businesses and the economy to ‘properly recover’ from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which were still negatively affecting them, despite positive indicators as the economy rebounds with the easing of health-related restrictions.

Global repercussions of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict are also causing concern, he said.

Both proposals have been referred to the Cabinet for review.

“Food prices have skyrocketed over the last few months,” claimed Mr Al Nefaei.

“People from all walks of life are struggling to make ends meet, and its particularly hard for low-income families and pensioners.

“We are proposing pre-paid ration cards to cover the cost of basic foods to ensure people in Bahrain don’t go to sleep hungry.

“The ration cards would reduce the burden on the public and allow them to use money for other requirements.”

Meanwhile, Mr Al Nefaei stressed the need to continue deferring loans until the end of the year so that people’s purchasing power is not curtailed.

“Deferrals have helped the market refresh and allow cash and business to flow. However, our concern is that the moment it is cancelled, people may limit their spending,” said Mr Al Nefaei.

“There is a risk of a market setback after all the efforts made over the past two years.”

Arab Parliament Speaker and local MP Adel Al Asoomi said Bahrain should learn from the Kuwaiti experience.

“Kuwaiti government has been spending KD120 million annually on either providing free commodities or goods under discounted rates for 1.8 million people through ration cards,” Mr Al Asoomi said.

“The cards help stabilise prices of basic products and ensure that items are provided at affordable rates.

“For example, baby milk that costs KD6 is sold for 500 Kuwaiti fils.”

Loans were deferred from March until August 2020 without bank charges. They were deferred a further four more times under optional deals in which interest was calculated from August 2020 until June this year.

MPs also approved amendments to the 1976 BDF and Public Security Wages and Pensions Law. It will be now reviewed by the Shura Council.

They also approved amendments to the 2015 Commercial Registrations Law that would see rogue traders who fail to remove or correct violations within a given deadline fined up to BD20,000 and have their commercial registrations (CRs) suspended for up to six months.

They also said that cases should be immediately referred to court rather than handled by the Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry.

MPs also approved the following proposals and referred it to the Cabinet:

l Increasing the age of Mazaya (social housing financing) scheme beneficiaries from 35 to 45.

l Presenting the Prince Salman bin Hamad Medal for Medical Merit to social media influencers who raise awareness on critical issues.

l Developing Samaheej Club.


Source: https://www.gdnonline.com/Details/1049440/Ration-card-and-loan-deferral-plans-get-go-ahead


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