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Sun 22 May 2011 09:41 PM

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Bahrain gov't agrees to waive hotel fees for 3 months

Cabinet says 5% fee levied on hotels in kingdom will be scrapped from July 1 to September 1

Bahrain gov't agrees to waive hotel fees for 3 months
Hotel occupancy in Bahrain has been badly hit during the unrest.

Bahrain's government on Sunday confirmed it will waive its levy on hotels in the country for three months from July.

The government's cabinet said the five percent fee levied on hotel services would be scrapped from July 1 to September 1, as part of the efforts being exerted to boost the tourism sector, which has been rocked by recent uprisings.

Last week, Culture minister Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa said she had given her initial approval to the proposal, which needed to be agreed by the cabinet.

The cabinet also alloted more than BD1bn ($2.65bn) for development projects in the 2011-12 budget, with ministers urged to start spending the money "without delay".

Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa said that the projects, which aim to "improve the quality of services provided to citizens" were the government's top priority.

The kingdom’s economic and social development marches will achieve remarkable qualitative leaps, the PM said in comments published by state news agency BPA.

He said that BD360m will be spent on housing, BD660m on education, BD534m on healthcare, BD68m on roads and BD45.5m on sanitation.

Another BD125m has been allocated for supporting low-income families, BPA added.

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa issued a decree last month which will lift the country's state of emergency on June 1.

Bahrain banned protests when it imposed martial law in March and invited troops from Sunni-led Gulf neighbours to help quash weeks of protests by pro-reform demonstrators.

Hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested since then while many more have been sacked from government jobs and state-linked companies, rights groups claim.

At least 29 people, all but six of them Shi'ites, have been killed since the protests started in February, inspired by Arab revolts against autocratic rule that toppled the rulers of Egypt and Tunisia.

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