Bahrain’s Deputy King has directed EWA to continue reissuing water and electricity bills for Bahraini citizens at their primary residence account. He has also instructed government departments to ensure the accuracy of services provided. As a result bills will be issued in September, October and November based on last year’s bill if that is lower. The Directive was given as the Deputy King met with the National Audit Office where a report on the accuracy of bills for the previous three months was presented. Recalculations of bills at that time were needed. The Deputy King has also directed EWA to reform its billing system.
Bahrain’s Cabinet has approved a Financial Action Task Force-compliant real estate Decision. The Decision defines the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing procedure obligations of licensees in the real estate sector. The aim is to ensure they comply with the highest international practices, rules and standards. It has also been issued in line with recommendation from the Ministerial Committee for Legal and Legislative Affairs. The Cabinet also approved the National Risk Assessment Report and the Interim Action Plan for Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and instructed all Ministries to enhance compliance with Financial Action Task Force standards and recommendations.
Bahrain’s King has directed the Prime Minister to expand quota preferences given to SMEs in Government procurement and tenders and in service facilities in Government entities. The Cabinet has decided the current quota of 10% of companies bidding for provision of Government services should be expanded to include tenders. The same percentage will apply. The Cabinet supported the measure following a review of the memorandum submitted by the Ministerial Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee.
Two Parliamentary investigations have been launched into illegal abortion clinics in Bahrain. According to reports, houses and apartments are being used to perform illegal abortions and hymen reconstruction surgeries. The reports have added those carrying out these procedures are charging between 300 and 500 Dinars each time. The Parliamentary investigations will focus on the smuggling of medicines like Cytotec to assist abortions. Under the existing law, abortions can only be carried out at authorised hospitals if a woman’s life is in danger and if three consultant doctors approve it.
Bahrain’s Cabinet has approved draft amendments to the Commercial Companies Law promulgated by Bahrain Decree-Law No. 21/2001 proposed by Parliament, following a recommendation from the Ministerial Committee for Legal and Legislative Affairs. The amendment will facilitate procedures for attending General Assembly meetings on behalf of partners using special power of attorney, without having to be authenticated by the relevant authorities.
Bahrain has agreed to allow companies with foreign capital to own 100% of exploring for oil and natural gas operations in the Kingdom. The approval was contained in Bahrain Edict No. 10/2019 which has been issued by the King. The conditions for these permits include a requirement for foreign parent company to sign or be in the last stages of signing an exploration agreement with the Bahraini Government.
The Chairman of the Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security of Bahrain’s Council of Representatives has announced a draft law to increase the penalties for social media misuse is under consideration. It is part of Government attempts to clampdown on this misuse. Among other things, social media misuse covers defaming someone, insulting someone or spreading rumours.
Bahrain’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority has launched a model contract for use between real estate sellers and brokers. The CEO of the Authority said it is not mandatory to use the model contract and is intended for use as a unified model for mediation contracts, with more items to be added in line with the relevant regulations. The model was prepared following consultation with the relevant parties including real estate brokers and sellers. The Authority is going to prepare more models and guidelines in the coming months, covering other types of real estate transactions.
Bahrain’s Shoura Council have approved four laws including a new Providing Cloud Computing Services to Foreign Parties Law. It is aimed at international cloud providers who have shown an interest in establishing in the Kingdom following the launch of Amazon Web Services. The Council also approved a Letters and Electronic Transactions Law which will establish a new framework for associated banking and financing services.
Bahraini MPs have approved an amendment to the 2001 Non-Bahrainis Ownership of Property and Plots Law which will mean expatriate property investors will not be able to own property in areas which aren’t designated tourism or investment zones. Previously foreigners were able to buy property anywhere in the Kingdom. It follows concerns Bahrainis were being priced out of the market. The Shoura Council will now consider the amendment.