Security deposit plan for expat businesses

EXPATRIATES seeking to obtain a new commercial registration (CR), or renew their existing one, could be asked to provide a security deposit.

This is aimed at tackling unfair business practices, said a group of MPs who have presented a proposal in this regard to Industry and Commerce Minister Abdulla bin Adel Fakhro.

He yesterday attended a meeting with a parliamentary committee probing the citizens’ low standards of living at the National Assembly complex in Gudaibiya.

The same committee, chaired by MP Ahmed Al Salloom, last week proposed new restrictions on expatriate businessmen and businesswomen, including imposing a minimum capital per business.

Earlier, Mr Fakhro responded to MPs’ queries on the ministry’s plans to tackle unfair competition being posed by expatriates to Bahrainis, and the ministry’s reasons behind CRs being issued to expats for businesses that add no value to the economy.

He said businesses owned 100 per cent by expatriates in Bahrain number 11,664, which is 15 per cent of 80,126 total active CRs in the market.

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

The sectors in Bahrain that most attract expatriate businessmen include professional, scientific and technical activities, information and communication as well as administrative and support services activities.

“Expatriate business activity needs intensive and thorough follow-up, inspections and monitoring for public good as improper market activities continue to cause harm,” said Mr Al Salloom, who is also the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Society chairman and Bahrain Chamber board member.

“Last week, we proposed measures that include minimum capital and are also giving the ministry other options to look into as we restrict business ownership by expats to businesses that add value to the economy,” he added.

“Now, we are proposing a safety deposit calculated per business activity.

“Also, we want all expat-owned businesses to be compulsorily registered for value added tax under the National Bureau for Revenue.”

The probe committee continued reviewing its 23 conclusions and 35 recommendations to tackle the issues causing a fall in the standards of living.

The GDN reported on Saturday that Bahrain’s authorities have stepped up inspections of small businesses, especially those owned by expatriates, to ensure they adhere to laws in force in the country.

Two companies have been closed administratively for violating regulations, the Industry and Commerce Ministry said.

It urged expatriate businesses to abide by the laws regulating to commercial activities – warning them against ‘exploiting facilities’ provided by Bahrain.

The campaign is being held in co-ordination with the Labour Market Regulatory Authority.

The ministry said it was constantly reviewing the requirements for establishing commercial companies in line with recent developments while also taking into account changes in the labour market.

It called on customers who deal with trading companies to verify its status and activities before conducting any transactions.




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