Bahrain finance minister to be quizzed over irregularities
Manama, March 12, 2014
Bahrain's Finance Minister is to be publicly questioned in parliament about financial irregularities mentioned in the Financial Audit Bureau report.
No date has been fixed for the session, but Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa will become the first top government official to be quizzed by MPs on the open floor, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
A handful of ministers have been questioned before, but only behind closed doors.
Thirteen MPs yesterday voted against summoning Shaikh Ahmed to parliament, with 11 in favour, while three abstained.
It meant the required quorum of 14 out of the 27 MPs was not reached and following changes to Bahrain's constitution a special commission was formed by parliament chairman Dr Khalifa Al Dhahrani.
Made up of his two vice-chairman and the chairmen and vice-chairmen of parliament's five permanent committees it was tasked with determining whether the plan to publicly question the minister was valid.
Services committee chairman Abbas Al Madi, who was appointed to handle the issue, said the request, presented by 10 MPs, lacked the necessary documentation to support it.
He also said there were no solid grounds on which to link the violations contained in the audit report to Shaikh Ahmed.
However, MPs failed to reach an agreement on the issue and therefore, based on the new constitutional rules, the initial proposal to question the minister becomes automatic.
Fifteen MPs then voted to summon Shaikh Ahmed to parliament for the public showdown, with 12 others saying it should be held in private.
An action plan that aims to correct government failings highlighted in the audit report was set in motion last Sunday.
Specialised work teams have been assigned to make sure that 404 violations uncovered in 2012 are addressed and do not happen again. Criminal activity is suspected in at least 25 of the violations, with 10 already referred to the Public Prosecution. - TradeArabia News Service