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MPs argue over housing bill changes.

PARLIAMENT descended into chaos yesterday as MPs argued over proposed amendments to the 1976 Housing Law that would see Bahrainis categorised as originals and naturalised.

Approval of the changes had been suspended for two weeks as behind-the-scenes wrangling continued.

If approved, the new law will force foreigners granted Bahraini citizenship to wait 10 years before applying for government housing.

The changes were proposed by MPs Abbas Al Madi, Shaikh Majid Al Majid and Mohammed Milad who said they aimed to protect Bahrainis who have been on the Housing Ministry's waiting list for years.

Parliament's public utilities and environment affairs committee has rejected the changes for being "discriminatory".

"Can anyone here tell me who is original and who is naturalised, when someone has the nationality," said Mohammed Al Ammadi.

"Stop this discriminatory talk and focus on serving Bahrainis. The government should take a stand against comments made here demanding Bahrainis be classified into first and second class citizens."

Parliament chairman Ahmed Al Mulla told Mr Al Ammadi to mind his own business and direct comments to the chair and not the government.

Jalal Kadhem said several naturalised Bahrainis were getting homes and housing allowances while they are in their home country.

"Naturalised Bahrainis who got their nationality in 2008 got homes the same year, while others who are on the waiting lists since the 1990s are rotting; when their time comes they become ineligible as they are above the age of 50," he said.

"There are others who get housing allowances while they are in their homeland not in Bahrain."

Housing Ministry legal advisor Fatema Al Mannai said homes were allocated according to the waiting lists; no-one is given preferential treatment.

The GDN reported last year that six MPs staged a walkout over a bill that would have forced foreigners granted Bahraini passports to wait 10 years before qualifying for government jobs, although the bill was vetoed in the end.

MP Nabeel Al Bulooshi said there are naturalised Bahrainis who have sacrificed their lives on the battlefront or in the line of duty fighting terrorists.

"These Bahrainis deserve to get not just government homes for their families without waiting but also other incentives."

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Apr 5, 2017
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