Rents waiver proposed for six months

RENTS could be waived for six months for tenants of properties owned by the Jaffari and Sunni Waqf (Endowment) Directorates, it has emerged.

The Southern Municipal Council approved a proposal which is aimed at offsetting the impact of Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19), and referred it to the directorates for review.

The councillors want tenants to be exempted from rent on commercial, residential and empty plots of land.

“Bahrainis and expatriates should be exempted from paying rent on waqf property as the country is facing a tough time due to the Covid-19,” said Abdulla Abdullatif who is spearheading the proposal.

“In the case of Bahrainis who have leased shops or empty plots of land, or built on them or turned them into farms, it is clear there is either no business or low business.

“For expats renting apartments in residential buildings, most work as teachers in private schools or in sectors that are negatively hit so they have asked for time to make the money.

“I understand this is endowment money that should go towards worship places, but Islam is about giving to the community and showing compassion.”

The Cabinet on Monday approved an economic package worth BD4.3 billion to support the country and people hit by the Covid-19 crisis.

The eight financial initiatives include a waiver on electricity and water bills for all accounts – including individuals and commercial – for three months and a delay of bank loan instalments for six months for those impacted by the virus.

The other initiatives include doubling the Liquidity Fund to BD200 million, and exempting tourism facilities from tourism fees for three months, among others.

An urgent legislation withdrawing excess from the Unemployment Fund to support the wages of Bahrainis in the private sector for the next three months has been referred to the National Assembly.

It aims to support 100,000 Bahrainis at a cost of BD215m.

Both Parliament and the Shura Council will have two weeks to review and vote on the legislation or it is considered ratified by His Majesty King Hamad.

Meanwhile, Mr Abdullatif said worship places and all other associated facilities have been closed by both directorates so the costs of repairs, maintenance and meeting needs is not an issue.

“The mosques are only open for the prayer call five times a day and for a minute and are not being used by the people, so there is less consumption of detergents, soap, tissue and other needs,” he said.

“Utility bills and municipality fees will be paid by the government for three months starting April so spending on other expenses is also resolved and several government entities leasing property like Edamah, the government’s real estate arm, and Seef Properties have already stopped charging rents for three months.

“People have come to us with tears in their eyes demanding a solution because it would take them at least a year to come out from the dark tunnel they are currently in and it is our role to serve the people regardless of their race, religion, background or ethnicity at a time when the world has to unite.”



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