Bahrain - Tougher punishments for rogue traders could be on the way quicker than expected.

The Shura Council’s financial and economic committee referred amendments to the 2012 Consumer Protection Law following a request during this week’s session to make changes.It was originally presented by the Shura Council last year and approved by MPs earlier this month.

“We have made changes as asked to bring punishments in the law in line with executive bylaws,” said committee chairman Khalid Al Maskati.

“Improper trade activities evolve with the progress of business and we have decided to give the concerned minister powers to determine suitable additions to the list of misconduct.”

The original format of proposed legislation states offenders would be handed no less than a month in jail, or fined between BD5,000 and BD20,000, or both for selling, possessing or promoting counterfeit or tampered items.

For those found guilty of hoarding and hiding such goods, the punishment would be a fine of between BD1,000 and BD10,000. Violating outlets would see their business suspended for up to three months and all items, equipment and goods confiscated. If an offence is repeated within three years, the outlet would be closed for six months or its commercial permit terminated.

Anyone found preventing inspectors from doing their work would also face fines of between BD1,000 and BD10,000.The government had asked legislators to reconsider their stand saying the current law continued to achieve its intended purpose in punishing offenders.

The amendments were originally intended for the next term later this year, but have been pushed upfront following a meeting with Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry officials.

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