Bahrain MPs renew calls to sack minister
Manama, November 23, 2011
MPs have renewed calls to sack Energy Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza over allegations that the government and public had been misled over what went on at Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) during the unrest earlier this year.
Parliament yesterday saw heated debate over the government's 40-page response to a parliamentary probe into irregularities at the refinery during the unrest, which was submitted in April.
MPs expressed anger at the government's report - saying it fell short of expectations and focused on comments by Dr Mirza and the National Oil and Gas Authority (Noga).
Parliament public utilities and environment affairs committee chairman Hassan Al Dossary argued the Cabinet should have formed a ministerial committee to reply to parliament's inquiry, rather than leave it up to Dr Mirza.
"If parliament accepts this reply, then I believe we are better off sitting at home because everyone knows that Bapco's workshops were being used to manufacture swords and other weapons for protesters during the unrest," he claimed.
"The report clears the minister of 90 per cent of the responsibility, as if nothing happened at Bapco during the unrest. There is huge corruption in the company and the minister has to be removed immediately because the situation is out of his control, not just now but for a very long time," he said.
Bapco probe committee head MP Shaikh Jassim Al Saeedi said the fact the reply to parliament's probe had come from the minister responsible for the refinery was unacceptable.
"This report has to be returned to the government and presented by a ministerial committee rather than the major culprit, who shouldn't be in his place in the first place," he said.
MP Latifa Al Gaoud agreed that the government's response fell short and repeated Dr Mirza's responses to remarks by individual MPs in April, rather than proper solutions.
"It is just a 'copy-paste' of what went on in April, without anything new being presented - despite parliament asking for real solutions to problems created at Bapco during the unrest," she said.
"We were under the impression that the Cabinet would present us with actions and procedures in regard to Bapco's irregularities and everyone knows that members of a certain political society are running certain departments in the company, but nothing has been done yet. That happens when the Cabinet depends on the person behind the whole controversy to do its responses, rather than have others from the government to look into it."
MP Khamis Al Rumaihi described the minister as a "failure" and "lazy". "The minister let things get out of control and stayed quiet (during the unrest), which clearly shows that he is a failure and lazy," he said.
"Here we demand that he gets questioned by a probe committee if the government doesn't dismiss him. Bapco is full of Iranian and Hizbollah figures' pictures and Persian is the official language there, not Arabic. The company has been abducted for many years and its abduction was at its peak during the unrest," he said.
Parliament's probe in April looked into absenteeism at Bapco during anti-government protests.
MPs at the time accused those responsible for responding to their questions of trying to fudge their reply with "composition and poetry".
A parliamentary probe committee was set up to investigate conduct at Bapco, amid serious allegations that included senior management covering for workers who did not show up for duty.
It has been claimed that some senior officials supported strikes that allegedly saw more than half of the workforce fail to show up on March 16 and 17 alone.
The Gulf Daily News, our sister newpaper, reported on Saturday that Noga had denied allegations of a cover-up at the Bapco refinery. – TradeArabia News Service