Push for 25pc pay rise in Bahrain public sector
Manama, April 20, 2011
Bahrain's parliament renewed their warning to the government to include demands for a 25 per cent pay rises for public sector employees.
MPs said that they would block the national budget for this year and the next if their demand was not met.
Parliament chairman Khalifa Al Dhahrani announced during the weekly session that the budget would be on the agenda at next week's meeting.
He said that it had already been delayed for four months and that it was time for it to be cleared from the agenda.
MPs had threatened on Monday to block the budget if their demands were not considered.
Finance Minister Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa reportedly missed parliament's financial and economic affairs committee meeting without an excuse on Monday.
However, his absence was defended by Minister of State for Shura Council and Parliament Affairs Abdulaziz Al Fadhel, who said that he was abroad.
Parliament first vice-chairman Abdulla Al Dossary accused the government of deliberately delaying the budget, so it could later blame parliament for it.
'The government says that it is the people's budget, yet they don't want to fulfil the public's demands,' Al Dossary said.
Committee acting chairman Othman Al Rayes said that the government was given many extensions to reach an agreement with MPs.
'We want to pass the budget, but not in its current format without the pay rise,' he said.
'The minister still has time to rescue the budget and it is the last week before we vote to block it unfortunately,' Al Rayes added.
Al Asala Bloc MP Abdulhaleem Murad said that Shaikh Ahmed was unable to attend for the past few days, but his last appearance in parliament was more than two months ago.
'The government was then keen on passing the budget, but now it seems that we MPs are the ones concerned to have it passed,' he said.
Millions of dinars were injected into Bahrain's two-year national budget in February as the government reached a compromise on parliament's demands.
MPs in January threatened to delay a vote on the budget for this year and the next, if extra money was not forthcoming.
Their demands included an additional BD600 million for housing projects, BD84 million to knock down and rebuild 2,000 dilapidated homes and BD10 million to renovate and waterproof damaged homes.
However, an agreement reached with Finance Ministry officials means BD360 million will be earmarked for housing projects, BD30 million for dilapidated and BD5 million for damaged homes.
Ministry officials have also accepted parliament's demand to have all Bahraini households earning less than BD1,000 given social welfare payments.
Under the deal, monthly aid of BD100 for households earning less than BD300, BD70 for those earning below BD700 and BD50 for those with incomes less than BD1,000 will be paid.
His Majesty King Hamad in January ordered an extra BD155.2 million to be pumped into the budget for social welfare programmes.
This included a BD100 million emergency fund to help low-income Bahrainis cope with increasing living costs in the next two years.
An extra BD44 million is also being pumped into government subsidies to keep prices down, while social aid for vulnerable groups - such as widows, disabled and divorcees - will be increased by BD11.2 million.
Otherwise known as anti-inflation allowance, the BD100 million fund was initially excluded from the government's new draft budget.
A similar allowance was included in the 2009-2010 budget after MPs refused to approve government spending without it.-TradeArabia News Service