15 January, 2020

Action call against 'greedy traders' who raised prices excessively citing VAT

Bahrain Financial Harbour (L) and Bahrain World Trade Center are are seen in diplomatic area in Manama, Bahrain, February 28, 2018. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Bahrain Financial Harbour (L) and Bahrain World Trade Center are are seen in diplomatic area in Manama, Bahrain, February 28, 2018. Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

TOUGH action is being sought against traders who have raised prices of products, citing Value Added Tax (VAT).

MPs voted unanimously in favour of the urgent move proposed by the Bahrain Bloc during their weekly session yesterday.

They also directed the Cabinet, which will review the proposal, to strengthen monitoring and open complaint channels round-the-clock, besides taking action against violators.

A VAT of five per cent is imposed on the retail price of commodities or services, with 94 exemptions.

MP Zainab Abdulamir claimed the prices of some commodities have jumped higher than 5pc.

“Greedy traders claim that VAT was being imposed at every stage from raw materials to production and that is why the prices have shot up,” she said.

“However, the rule is that the 5pc should be imposed only on the original retail price.

“We want tough action against violators in addition to strengthened monitoring and opening complaint channels round-the-clock.”

MPs also voted unanimously on another urgent proposal by the same bloc to double social aid for families in need during Eid Al Fitr, Eid Al Adha and at the beginning of the school year.

Earlier, Labour and Social Development Minister Jameel Humaidan responded to two questions by MPs on Bahraini families who receive monthly social aid as part of a number of welfare schemes costing millions of dinars.

“What MPs describe as a poverty line is a wrong description as it is the basic living needs, and in 2010 we came to parliament following a recommendation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to include government financial support alongside personal income but it was rejected despite it providing a clearer picture of the people’s living standards,” he said.

“Things have changed since then and the calculation of living standards has become complex with the addition of governments services like education and health.

“There is an issue with backdated unemployment allowance payments, but it is technical and is being addressed.”

He told MPs earlier that 123,795 Bahrainis receive anti-inflation allowance of BD100, BD70 and BD50 depending on the monthly income at a cap of BD1,000.

A total of 17,105 Bahrainis also benefit from social welfare, with an individual receiving BD70 and a couple receiving BD120, while extra payments of BD25 are made per additional family member.

A total of 11,850 Bahrainis with disabilities also receive BD100 a month.

The social aid schemes also include meat allowances given since subsidies were lifted in 2016, with 164,112 getting direct payments.

Breadwinners receive BD5 a month, children aged above 15 receive BD3.500 and children below that age receive BD2.500.

The minister said these figures were the latest update until October last year (2019).

He added that 48 Bahrainis who earn below BD1,500 received up to BD2,000 as a one-off payment for fire compensation until August last year (2019).

The minister also said the number of Bahrainis with autism spectrum disorder reached 746 until November last year, aged between zero and 49.

He added that are also 500 cases on the waiting list to join government-supported specialised centres.

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