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|11 April, 2018

Bahrain MPs call on government to withdraw bankruptcy bill

Parliament and the Shura Council each have 15 days each to approve the legislation because it was labelled “urgent”.

Photo used for illustrative purpose. Members of parliament are seen during a closed door session during weekly parliament session in Manama.

Photo used for illustrative purpose. Members of parliament are seen during a closed door session during weekly parliament session in Manama.

REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Bahrain - MPs yesterday demanded that the government withdraw a draft 195-article Bankruptcy Law submitted on Monday.

Parliament and the Shura Council each have 15 days each to approve the legislation because it was labelled “urgent”.

Failure to vote on it within that time period means it is automatically approved, but MPs say they are already facing a backlog – with the National Assembly‘s four-year term ending on May 15.

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“Existing legislation already deals with bankruptcy,” argued MP Ahmed Qarrata.

He complained that it would not be given appropriate attention by MPs if it had to be fast-tracked, while accusing the government of abusing an article in the constitution that allowed it to impose tight deadlines on the National Assembly.

“When would we have time to review it or meet with concerned ministers if there are only 15 days, with weekends, to review it?” he asked.

“This new law will have an affect on the commercial, industrial and economic sectors.

“If we can’t complete it and our businessmen are affected, we are to blame since technically we will pass it even if we run out of time.”

However, Parliament and Shura Council Affairs Minister Ghanim accused MPs of failing in their duty if they were not up to the task.

“It is shameful that MPs don’t want to practise their role in legislation,” he said.

“MPs can just spare more time and do it in the given 15 days, which is our right in the constitution.”

He added it was within MPs’ powers to scrap Article 87 of the constitution, which allows the government to label certain bills as urgent in order to fast-track them.

“Scrapping Article 87 from the constitution is something legislators can work on if they want to, but it is there and we will use it if we believe there is urgency,” he added.

Parliament chairman Ahmed Al Mulla added extraordinary sessions would be held over the next four weeks to finish pending legislation.

“This law will either be debated in one of our Tuesday sessions, or in an extraordinary session,” he said.

“We are managing things to clear all legislation and proposals before the term ends.”

Parliament’s previous four weekly meetings had to be ended early because not enough MPs returned to their seats in the afternoon to discuss pending bills.

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