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Lawyer to lodge appeal as VAT on utility bills challenge rejected.

A LAWYER will lodge an appeal after his case against plans to impose Value Added Tax (VAT) on utility bills was rejected yesterday.

The lawsuit had named both Electricity and Water Affairs Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza and Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) chief executive Shaikh Nawaf bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa as defendants.

It was filed at the High Administrative Court last month by lawyer Mohammed Al Thawadi who claimed the levy was "unconstitutional".

However, the case was rejected yesterday after lawyers failed to submit sufficient arguments against the move.

Mr Al Thawadi told the GDN he will lodge an appeal against the ruling at the High Administrative Appeals Court.

The EWA previously indicated that VAT would be imposed on all utility bills at a flat rate of five per cent from this month.

However, Shaikh Nawaf later explained that 64pc of Bahraini subscribers would not be charged VAT on power, as they did not consume more than 3,000 units of electricity per month.

He also said an electronic system that would allow Bahrainis to claim refunds for VAT paid on utilities was in the pipeline.

Bahrain became the third GCC country, after the UAE and Saudi Arabia, to introduce VAT at a standard rate of 5pc on goods and services on January 1.

However, the price of utilities has been increasing on an annual basis since 2016 for expats, the private sector and Bahrainis with more than one home.

The final increase on March 1 will see domestic electricity charges (for usage up to 3,000 units) rise from the current 21 fils to 29 fils per unit, while water charges (for usage up to 60 units) will increase from the present 450 fils to 750 fils per unit.

noorz@gdn.com.bh

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Feb 25, 2019
Words:315
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