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Violations at five ministries ‘costing Bahrain millions’

Bahrain News
Wed, 06 Dec 2017

MAJOR violations registered at five government ministries have resulted in millions of dinars being squandered, it was found.

The Financial and Administrative Audit Bureau presented its 14th annual report to the National Assembly yesterday, highlighting violations at the now-suspended National Centralised Ambulance Service under the Interior Ministry and the failure of the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry to collect insurance money for infrastructure damage and owed amounts from investors.

The 628-page report also found that the Social Welfare Fund, under the Labour and Social Development Ministry, was until December 31 last year without a board; and the Health Ministry failed to collect overdue payments from companies for health services in the last seven years.

The bureau, which audits the government, also revealed unofficial usage of facilities, studios and television and radio signals while broadcasting events from Bahrain by the Information Affairs Ministry.

“The new National Centralised Ambulance Service initiated through a ministerial order in 2011 by the Interior Minister aimed to move all ambulances from the Health Ministry under the Interior Ministry’s umbrella,” stated the report.

“The project was initiated without a relevant law covering its organisation or affairs and its BD1.2 million budget was covered from the Interior Ministry’s special projects budget with BD1.1m going towards buying 31 new ambulances.

“However, due to the unavailability of an operational budget the project got suspended and never saw light.”

The new 2016-2017 report also revealed that the Public Works Sector at the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry did not collect BD580,000 from insurance companies for infrastructure damage caused by road accidents over seven years.

“The ministry doesn’t have a database for owed payments to repair damages, which led to failure in collections and delays of repairs,” it said.

The ministry’s Municipalities Affairs also failed to collect overdue payments of BD822,000 from investors running Adhari Park, from 2010 until November last year, while failing to obtain bank guarantees from the investors on their ability to compensate if liquidation was an option.

However, the GDN reported last month that an off court settlement was reached for the overdue payments, which went up to BD900,000, with investors paying BD300,000 immediately, BD300,000 on a two-year instalment and BD300,000 being slashed by the Capital Trustees Board.

The report also uncovered that an official at the ministry was being paid his wages and allowances until his retirement in June 2016, despite being removed from his post of common municipal services director in 2012.

“There were no documents mentioning a suspension or reappointment, which saw BD138,000 being pocketed (by the official),” said the report.

“Bahrain’s three municipalities and the Capital Trustees Authority have also listed individuals under temporary accounts without calculating final fees despite issuing actual certificates for periods ranging between six months and 24 years, which amounted to huge losses.”

The Information Affairs Ministry was also found to have conducted agreements, verbally or through e-mails, with numerous satellite channels to provide video and audio services without actual contracts being signed.

“The ministry allowed other channels to use their signals, studios and technical services without an actual contract, which has led to many default payments, while others have negotiated minimal payments that were being forced as settlements,” stated the report.

In April last year, the term of the Social Welfare Fund’s board ended but operations continued until December 31 without new appointments.

“This means several issues were pending without decisions, which affected the welfare of citizens, knowing that the fund has BD14.7m under its coffers,” added the report.

The Health Ministry has also been accused of not collecting BD1.3m for primary healthcare services for employees listed under companies.

“The amount of BD1.3m has mounted over seven years, while no legal action for late paying companies ever being taken,” it said.

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