• Bid to mix religion with laws rapped

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    Bahrain: Any effort to mix religion with Bahrain’s national legislation will be vetoed by the Shura Council, it was declared yesterday.

    The upper chamber of the National Assembly made the pledge as it voted down Members’ of Parliament amendment to the 2008 Pension Fund Authority (PFA) Law, which would have forced the adoption of Islamic finance principles.

    Parliament inserted a clause in the law stating that PFA funds should be invested “according to the Islamic Sharia,” but the Shura Council overruled the amendment.

    Shura Council chairman Ali Saleh Al Saleh said it would set a dangerous precedent to approve such a clause.

    “If we approve such a bill then all other laws have to be changed to include ‘according to Islamic Sharia,’ ” he said.

    “Do MPs want us to Islamicise all ministries, establishments and organizations in the country?

    “It seems parliament wants us to close all conventional banks in Bahrain and tear down all we have built over decades to achieve a free economy.”

    Mr Al Saleh said Bahrain was already an Islamic country and did not need its status reinforced through law.

    “Most of us are Muslims and Islam is a tolerant religion,” he said.

    “It has opened the door for numerous interpretations according to the needs of the era it is being practiced in.

    “The PFA’s funds, which are paid to pensioners, have to be protected and invested in the best way possible in different banks and different international financial institutions.

    “Inserting this clause means less revenues will be generated with less investment opportunities, something that will affect available funds in future.”

    The PFA’s investment branch already comes under the Central Bank of Bahrain and is monitored by the Administrative and Financial Audit Bureau.

    Shura Council member Dr Mansoor Sarhan said restricting how the funds were invested would limit its options.

    “There is an open market and money has to be directed wherever there are opportunities,” he said.

    “Limiting it to Islamic finance is dangerous, it could lose money.

    “We have to give the company options.”

    The amendment will now be referred back to parliament.

    If MPs approve it again it will go back to the Shura Council a second time, but another veto by the upper chamber will result in the proposal being shelved.

    © 2016 THE GULF DAILY NEWS (MANAMA, BAHRAIN) / DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

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