Bahrain to scrap power subsidies for expats, big businesses

Cost-cutting measures also include an end to free education for expats as cheap oil continues to impact kingdom
Bahrain to scrap power subsidies for expats, big businesses
By Staff writer
Mon 23 Nov 2015 01:59 PM

Bahrain is set to make significant subsidy changes in electricity and water charges for both expats and big businesses, and possibly restrict free education for expats, according to latest media reports.

Gulf Daily News reports that the government is in negotiations with the country’s MPs to try and scrap subsidies for both big businesses and expats.

Adel Al Asoomi, the parliament’s public utilities and environment affairs committee chairman, told the newspaper that an initial agreement has been reached with the Energy Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza to end subsidies for expats and those businesses who profit from the provision of cheaper electricity and water.

“More technical study is required before new rates are decided upon for expatriates, but a rough draft is expected in the coming days,” Mr Al Asoomi told Gulf Daily News.

“We have completed more than 90 percent of the work on the subsidy cuts plan for water and electricity and our main target – cutting off major companies that make millions out of the subsidised rates – has been achieved.”

The only decision left is for the government to decide how the locals will be able to retain some of the electricity and water subsidies, he said.

“Either the same system is used as with meat subsidies, where payments are made directly to bank accounts, or ration cards are introduced,” he said.

“This latter suggestion, which parliament put forward, is currently being studied by the Cabinet.”

Meanwhile, MP Jalal Kadhim Al Mahfoudh, member of the Financial and Economic committee of the Council of Representatives, has said he intends to put forward a proposal to end free education for expat children.

“We aim to increase the state's income and rationalise spending that benefits non-Bahrainis,” Al Mahfoudh told Daily Tribune News.

Bahrain’s Minister of Education Dr Majid Al Nuaimi, previously said “each student annually costs the state around BD3000” ($7,900).

Al Mahfoudh said the measure would be in line with other countries in the region.

“Neighbouring GCC states impose fees on students from outside the country who study in public schools. In fact, these states have a whole set of conditions and standards to accept expatriate children in public schools,” he said.

Al Mahfoudh said the savings should be reinvested in developing education and school projects in the country.

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