AN urgent proposal to stop local banks from charging higher interest rates and administrative fees on existing loans was approved unanimously by MPs yesterday.

The proposal, spearheaded by five MPs led by Strategic Thinking Bloc spokesman Khalid Bu Onk, will be now reviewed by the Cabinet.

It comes as MPs claimed they have been bombarded with calls by people who have seen their loan repayments increase drastically.

“In one case, someone who borrowed BD30,000 and was to have repaid BD42,000 is now being asked to pay BD60,000,” said MP Mamdooh Al Saleh.

“The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) should intervene and take action because this is a clear breach of loan contract,” he added.

MP Hamad Al Doy said the issue was with only two banks which he named and waved loan agreements of.

“These two banks called people saying the CBB had increased mortgage loans, with an increase of around BD7,000 and BD15,000,” he added.

“Around 62,000 people referred by the Housing and Urban Planning Ministry are now suffering.”

Mr Bu Onk said banks claim people have signed contracts which contain a clause stating that interest rates are subject to change.

“People need money or homes so they will sign on anything. Instead of rich money-making banks reducing instalments or administrative fees they are increasing them.

“This has to stop.”

MPs also unanimously approved an urgent proposal to provide automatic boat trackers for fishermen and referred it to the Cabinet.

MP Jalila Al Sayed said 90 fishermen were unable to go out to sea because the ‘orange’ tracker is either damaged or lost.

“They approached the Coastguard asking for replacements, but the device is not available, meaning that 90 fishermen are out of work.”

Parliament Speaker Ahmed Al Musallam said he was personally following up with the Interior Ministry and they have asked for a week to reply.

MP Abdulla Al Dhaen suggested that the government should shift to tracking phone apps, saying it was much cheaper and efficient.

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