New rules have been put in place to ensure thousands of dinars in rents on municipal properties are collected on time, it has been revealed.

Municipalities Affairs and Agriculture Ministry Municipal Affairs Under-Secretary Shaikh Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told the Muharraq Municipal Council yesterday that a “special electronic system” has been introduced in which all leasers are listed.

The system sounds an alert on due dates and over prior notices for properties be it plots, buildings or shops.

“We understand that some businesses could be going through a rough time during certain periods of the year and due to that overdue monthly payments could accumulate for three months,” said Shaikh Mohammed.

“However, if the payments are not made for more than three months then a seven-day ultimatum is issued for a response,” he added.

“Should the payments not be made or other arrangements agreed upon, then the amounts are deducted from the deposit paid when the contract was first signed with the municipalities.

“The deposit is a three-month rent amount so it covers what is owed.

“The deposit then needs to be renewed by the leaser within 15 days or else legal action is taken to recover the amount and terminate the contract.”

Shaikh Mohammed stressed that the ministry was committed to collecting all the amounts due.

“This is public money entrusted upon us and we intend to ensure it enters municipal coffers,” he said.

“Municipal properties are provided at reasonable rates that are affordable by businesses.

“There are many on waiting lists, who have presented financial guarantees, wanting to lease plots, shops or buildings occupied by defaulters.”

The council’s financial, administrative and legislative committee chairman Fadhel Al Oud requested a full report on the defaulters and due payments, saying that as per his own knowledge thousands of dinars were owed.

“Municipal properties are in high demand due to their somewhat lower-than-market rates,” he said.

“If there are defaulters then it means that their businesses aren’t doing well, are being mismanaged or are simply providing lacklustre services, and they should be gone to allow others in their place.

“We need to know who the defaulters are and their due amounts, so whenever we approve any future leases, we ensure it is not in the pattern of those that are failing.”

Mr Al Oud said the door should remain open for grievances in cases where businesses are facing tough times.

“Some businesses could be thriving but facing bad times due to infrastructure work such as roads and sewage being carried out by the government for long periods in their areas,” he said.

“That’s the only exception that needs solutions and exceptional arrangements. Other than that, those not making payments should face legal action.”

The GDN reported last month that Bahraini traders who have had their livelihoods turned upside down by major work to create a state-of-the-art market boulevard in Muharraq were set to receive help to combat their current financial woes.

The Muharraq Municipal Council has unanimously voted to drop all municipal payments owed by shops to help the businesses stay afloat until improvements to the area, costing more than half a million dinars, are completed later this year.

The proposal was forwarded by council chairman and area councillor Abdulaziz Al Naar following a petition from traders pleading for assistance as dramatic trade losses caused by the infrastructure work could result in many of them going bust before they can benefit from the investment.

Municipal fees were waived on leasers during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic for three months.


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