Bahrain: Shura Council Cuts Sand Dredging Penalties

 Shura Council Cuts Sand Dredging Penalties

Shura Council members yesterday reduced proposed penalties for sand dredging violations.

They also restricted punishments to decision makers, after talks last week ended in a stalemate over fears that low-paid labourers could be made scapegoats.

The new punishments agreed yesterday are jail plus fines of BD50,000 to BD100,000, which is more lenient than the BD100,000 to BD250,000 originally suggested.

Meanwhile, councillors granted the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister the right to revoke sand dredging licences based on four categories – legal violations, failure to start work within three months of having a licence issued, changes to company status and if it is in the public interest.

Under the law, which will be studied by parliament, only authorised companies would be allowed to dredge sand and they would not be allowed to sell it outside Bahrain unless sanctioned by the minister concerned.

Licences would be renewed annually under rates of between BD10,000 and BD50,000.

Applications will be reviewed by a committee comprising concerned government bodies and chaired by an Under-Secretary from the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs, which will determine the location and amounts of sand that could be dredged.

Under the law, sand prices would be calculated according to market prices every two years, although the Shura Council cancelled an article that stated dredging companies would have to make backdated payments due to the difficulty in making calculations.

Dredgers would have to compensate for any damages to the environment or facilities in the sea, and those exceeding permitted amounts would have the extra sand seized by the government.

[mappress]

Press Release, June 12, 2013

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