Bahrain MPs propose privatising gov't assets

Lawmakers recommend that Mumtalakat caps stake in assets such as Gulf Air at 30%

Bahrain MPs have called for the government to place a 30 percent cap on its stake in state-owned assets as it aims to boost government revenues in the wake of falling the oil price, it was reported.

Lawmakers called for Mumtalakat Holding Company, the Gulf state’s its sovereign wealth fund, to reduce its stakes in government owned assets to 30 percent, according to a report by Gulf Daily News.

Mumtalakat currently owns stakes in a range of companies including, flag carrier Gulf Air, the Bahrain Airport Company (BAC), telco Batelco, Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) and the National Bank of Bahrain (NBB).

However, the proposal excluded the sale of stakes in oil and gas-related industries and the Bahrain International Circuit.

The proposal has been drafted by the cabinet and has been approved by the parliament and the Shura Council.

“It means that the government can free up some of its funds,” said Abdulrahman Buali, chairman of the parliament financial and economic affairs committee.

However, the proposal was not universally welcomed: “Privatisation, or the reduction of government shares as a first step, will harm the power of those companies and affect employment there,” argued MP Abdulrahman Bumajeed.

“If we fully privatise those companies it means we will be unable to monitor their activities – we are already facing difficulty in that… We are already probing Mumtalakat’s affairs and should wait for recommendations before approving these amendments.”

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