Bahrain 'loses $2.63m over human error'
Manama, March 15, 2014
The Muharraq governorate in Bahrain has lost up to BD1 million ($2.63 million) in uncollected municipal fees in the last 10 years because of "human error," said a report citing a top official.
Around 120 traders at the Muharraq Central Market have to pay municipal levies even if they rent their properties from the municipality.
However, a retired Muharraq Municipality inspector was under the impression that was not the case.
The mistake was uncovered last June by municipality director-general Saleh Al Fadhala who went through all the financial books a few months after he was transferred from the Southern Municipality.
He referred the case to Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi, who ordered the fees to be collected from June last year.
However, he said they will not backdate the unpaid tax for the last 10 years because the majority of the traders come from low-income families.
The market hosts 38 shops, 22 meat stalls, 27 fish stands and 37 fruits and vegetables stalls.
It is set to get a BD6 million facelift and traders will be moved to a temporary location at the Hassan Bin Thabet Public Park in June.
"A clear mistake from a former municipal inspector has meant that we have lost up to BD1 million from uncollected municipal fees," Al Fadhala told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication, exclusively.
"We can't force 10 years of payments on poor traders and the minister has recommended that the payments get counted from June last year, which is when we uncovered the issue," he noted.
"Despite the order, we still have not received anything from the late payments and we have warned the merchants that they will not get places in the temporary marketplace or the new market unless they pay what they owe," he stated.
"There is no exact calculation of how much the new net amount would be as we are currently working on an individual basis with traders and from our back files rather than the electronic system," the official added.
Work at the 36-year-old market was supposed to start last November after more than four years of delays.
The Muharraq Central Market Company, a subsidiary of Tashgeel for Commercial Buildings Management, will build the temporary structure at its own expense at the same time it carries work on the new market.
The new facility will feature a shopping complex, hypermarket and separate sections for meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, and kiosks.
It will also include a special area for people who make traditional crafts, government offices, banks, restaurants and cafes.-TradeArabia News Service