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Bahrain prepares to open up telecoms

The Bahraini government has taken another step towards deregulation of the country's telecom inudstry after setting up a privatisation council to oversee the process.

Bahrain’s economy is continuing to open up to the outside world, with two major developments in the last month.

First, the government announced that, when the telecom sector is finally deregulated, overseas firms will be allowed to bid for a stake in operating companies.

Describing the legislation that will open up telecoms, Transport Ministry undersecretary Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, said that it will “provide the required legal basis and the guidelines for foreign companies that are interested in entering the Bahrain market.”

At the same time, the Shura Council approved a draft law creating a ‘master plan’, which provides guidelines for the privatisation of government services. It has now been submitted for cabinet approval, which, as CommsMEA went to press, was expected to be granted shortly.

As part of the plan, a Supreme Privatisation Council will be bet up, chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. It will oversee the planned sell-offs of many government services.

Council members will include the ministers of finance and national economy, commerce, oil and industry, and labour and social affairs. They will be joined by five representatives of private industry, described as “experts in privatisation.”

The council’s main task will to formulate privatisation plans and set a timetable for the proposed sales.

Under the proposed law, members of the Shura Council, their employees and members of their families will be banned from running companies that take over government services.

Meanwhile, anyone working for the newly-privatised companies will be guaranteed their jobs for at least three years with the same benefits they receive at the government.

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