NEARLY 40,000 pensioners are to benefit from a scheme that will give them a 50 per cent discount on a range of government services.
Social Development Minister Dr Fatima Al Balooshi yesterday said special cards will be given to every Bahraini aged 60 and above, within a month.
It aims to help them cover the costs of renewing their driving licences, passports and smart cards and hiring foreign housemaids and hospital fees at Salmaniya Medical Complex.
Property deeds and rent on government houses will also be included.
Such cards are already issued to disabled Bahrainis and people with special needs.
"The slashed fees will cover construction, property deeds and municipal taxes on renting houses and flats," said Dr Al Balooshi during a Press conference at the ministry headquarters in the Bahrain Financial Harbour.
"The plan will initially run for a year. It will then be reviewed and evaluated by the Cabinet."
She said the decision was based on a Cabinet directive to provide better services to the country's elderly citizens.
According to the latest figures, around five per cent of Bahrain's population - 37,473 people - are elderly, but this is expected to reach 14.2pc by 2025 because of growing life expectancy.
Dr Al Balooshi said additional help for pensioners included the creation of a database for companies keen to hire them.
A specialist centre will be set up in Isa Town to provide them information about their rights, use of discount cards, social insurance and medical equipment. It is expected to be up and running by May.
Ministries providing the discounts include the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs, Interior, Labour and Health ministries, besides the Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) and the Central Informatics Organisation.
Representatives from Al Hekma Society for Retirees attended the event along with Ministry of Social Welfare, Rehabilitation and Training Under-secretary Dr Badria Al Jeeb and Social Development Affairs Under-Secretary Hanan Kamal.