Millions 'wasted on lost causes' say Bahrain MPs
Manama, March 10, 2010
Bahrain MPS have accused the government of squandering millions of dinars on failing projects.
They were discussing the Financial Audit Bureau report for 2006, 2007 and 2008, which they claimed showed a number of discrepancies but without pointing out those responsible.
Parliament demanded action be taken against anyone found guilty of corruption, saying they were the reason for the problem.
Al Wefaq bloc began insulting the government, saying officials were turning a blind eye to discrepancies and was silenced by parliament chairman Khalifa Al Dhahrani, other MPs and ministers.
Among the inconsistencies raised by MPs was the alleged disappearance of BD30.5 million from the closing budget statement for 2008.
They also criticised the government for giving Gulf Air up to BD302 million in 2008, BD13 million to the Bahrain International Circuit and a BD10 million loan to F1 team McLaren.
MPs also questioned the reason why millions were being spent to promote tourism, when cheaper methods could be used.
Parliament also raised objections against 12 ministries who took BD2.8 million from the 2008 budget for 2007 projects, without approval.
Finance Minister Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa said the government was not concerned about specific spending.
'We ask for general spending and if a ministry asks for a BD1m to cover its operational costs, we don't tell them how to spend it,' he said.
'Yes, we are in charge of the total spending and are accountable in parliament, but we can't be blamed in the case of misuse.
'Parliament is here saying that we squandered millions, but that's subjective, since we believe that the money has been spent rightfully.'
Shaikh Ahmed said the issue was turning from financial to political as certain MPs were criticising the government.
'The issue of an elected government is not on the table here and the government that some MPs are criticising has turned democracy from a concept into economic prosperity,' he said.
'There are challenges and we should be all working to eliminate them rather than pointing fingers at each other.'
Parliament financial and economic affairs committee chairman Abduljalil Khalil said that the Defence Ministry had exceeded its budget in the three years by BD43 million.
'That's not my calculation, it is the bureau,' he said.
Khalil said that Gulf Air's move to reach an out-of-court settlement with former employee Michael Kent, accused of embezzling BD4,230,000 from the airline, was unacceptable.
'This is the people's money, but it seems that the agreement has meant that Kent and others benefited and this is why the case has been cancelled,' he claimed.
MP Hassan Al Dossary said that judges had been given loans from a trustees' fund, although they had no right to touch it.-TradeArabia News Service