Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has urged the country’s government to reconsider the proposed pension and retirement laws in the country in cooperation with the parliament.
His remarks came during a meeting with Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, speaker Ahmed bin Ibrahim Al Mulla and Shura chairman Ali bin Saleh Al Saleh, the official Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported.
Earlier this month, Bahrain’s Council of Representatives rejected a controversial law which will allow a single government authority – the Social Insurance Organisation (SIO) – to control citizens’ pensions. Members of Parliament accused the bill of being “against the constitution”.
The proposed law gives the SIO absolute jurisdiction related to the pensions of public sector and military employees as well as members of the Legislative Authority (Shura Council and the House of Representatives.
That will include determining aspects such as pension percentages and increments and retirement age.
The bill was also rejected by members of the council’s services committee.
In his remarks on Thursday, King Hamad called for the development of the pensions system to “preserve citizens’ rights” and to “secure the financial stability of pension funds” by better investment.
He also stressed the importance of Bahrain’s democratic approach, and called for cooperation between the legislative and executive branches.
“The re-evaluation should achieve national agreements among the state’s authorities and respective institutions to introduce the necessary modifications on both the laws to ensure the continuous capability of the pension and insurance funds to fulfill their obligations,” the BNA report added.
Following the meeting, Shura chairman Ali bin Saleh Al Saleh said the Shura Council will continue to cooperate with the Council of Representative and the government to find “common grounds” and “protect the nation from divisionism and splitting”.
Earlier this year, Bahrain’s Shura Council also approved a new law that will allow private sector employees to purchase ‘virtual’ years of service so that they can receive better pension benefits upon retirement.
Under the scheme – administered by the SIO – workers can purchase up to five years’ of assumed service which, when paid through salary reductions, can be included in future pension calculations, subject to certain conditions.