A FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND initiative to support the role of municipal councils and the Capital Trustees Board as representatives of the public was announced by National Assembly and parliament chairman Ahmed Al Mulla yesterday.
He will chair an upcoming session of the Southern Municipal Council as the first ever legislator to chair a municipal council meeting.
The move comes after nine councillors from the 10-member council, including chairman Ahmed Al Ansari, boycotted the second Parliamentary Municipal Forum on Monday.
The forum, which was held under the patronage of Mr Al Mulla, was boycotted by more than half of Bahrain’s elected municipal councillors in protest over MPs allegedly hijacking their work.
“Working together pushes ahead infrastructure projects and speeds things up,” said Mr Al Mulla.
“I promised there will be no interference in municipal work and I am a man of my word.
“Chairing the council as a one-off initiative aims at highlighting the importance of municipal representation and its role in developing the community.
“It also directs the attention of ministers and government officials to Bahrain’s three municipal councils and the Capital Trustees Board as decision makers in the progress of the country.”
Mr Al Mulla represents Constituency 10 in the Southern Governorate which covers Durrat Al Bahrain and Hawar Islands.
“We are only a few months away from parliament and municipal elections, so whatever we manage to achieve together will be an achievement for all and reflect our co-operation.
“I have plans to chair meetings of Northern and Muharraq councils and the Capital Trustees Board and hopefully agreements will be reached to bring the whole country’s representatives on the same page.
“The forum has laid the platform; there were concerns that there would be a blackout days after it ended, but that’s not the case.”
Parliament first vice-chairman Ali Al Aradi said the initiative will certainly accelerate work in the country.
“It is always good to have MPs, councillors and board members together pushing for the same projects rather than working alone.”
Amongst approved recommendations through the forum are giving municipal councils and the Capital Trustees Board back their financial and administrative independence, which they claim was last year hijacked by the government through a ruling from the Legislation and Legal Opinion Commission; forming a Municipal Prosecution to fast-track cases; and introducing a Municipal Investment Law.
Other recommendations include ending unilateral decisions by ministers and government officials while opening channels for joint decision making; ending interference of MPs in municipal work, while highlighting the importance of co-ordination, and ensuring elected councillors and appointed board members are responsible for performances of municipalities and the Capital Trustees Authority instead of the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister.