In line with the Kingdom of Bahrain’s commitment to national development through enhanced technology, communication and regulation, there have been a number of notable developments in the legal and business spheres in the last few months.
There was a shake-up in the domestic insolvency sector in January 2017, when it was announced that a special committee (the “Committee”) had been set up to assist companies experiencing financial difficulties.
The Committee operates under the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in conjunction with the Central Bank of Bahrain (“CBB”) and the Supreme Judicial Council and works to revise loan repayment schedules with companies’ creditors and facilitates the relaxation or removal of some restrictions on the operations of these companies and their employees.
It has been reported that the Committee is in the process of reviewing over 100 requests for assistance received from firms that are currently unable to operate due to financial issues, although an initial assessment suggested that only 10 of these firms needed an immediate cash injection.
Meanwhile, in keeping with the Government’s commitment to energy efficiency and sustainable power generation, the first Bahraini solar panel manufacturer has commenced operations.
The new manufacturer intends to meet demand for renewable energy technology in the Kingdom by producing solar panels for residential and business premises together with solar powered infrastructure, such as street lighting.
In terms of recent developments relating to the Bahraini Courts, on 2nd February 2017, Resolution No. 5 of 2017 (the “Resolution”) was published in the Official Gazette. The Resolution permits the service of judicial notices by email on parties’ legal representatives, which should significantly speed up the Court process, and enable both advocates and Court staff to streamline their workloads effectively.
Finally, at the Sixth GCC Financial Forum (the “Forum”), held in Bahrain on 27th to 28th February 2017, a number of measures relating to the Kingdom’s and the region’s economies were discussed. In a discussion session led by the Governor of the CBB, His Excellency Rasheed Al Maraj, Bahrain’s intention to introduce VAT in 2018, in a pan-GCC tax implementation plan, was again confirmed. Bahrain’s efforts towards establishing the Kingdom as a regional hub for fintech (financial technology) was also noted at the Forum, with HE Mr. Al Maraj announcing that a white paper on this issue had been prepared by the CBB and would soon be shared with industry. It is clear from the above developments that the Kingdom continues to innovate and develop in accordance with the strategic objectives set out in the National Development Plan (2015-2018) and the Economic Vision 2030.
This article was first published by Lexis Nexis in the MENA Business Law Review in the 1st quarter of 2017.