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400 associations far too many...

Comment
Zuhair Tawfiqi


I write this today to call upon the authorities concerned to drastically limit the numbers of professional, social and charitable associations in Bahrain.
This is necessary because it not only leads to “fragmentation” of responsibilities – it has also been seen that most of these have no budgets, thus leading to undue pressure from companies, banks and other institutions, particularly in the private sector, which finds itself driven to provide them with necessary support as part of their “community responsibility” initiatives.

Recent statistics from the Labour and Social Development Ministry put the numbers of these associations at a whopping 400, a very large number indeed for such a small country.
I will not talk about the roles these associations play in society since each of them have had some contribution in serving people and making the lives of the needy more meaningful and comfortable. I personally also communicate with many of them as part of my own job responsibility. However, it is time we looked at some radical solutions to this rather unhealthy situation.

Many of these associations are similar in their programmes and activities and fail to achieve the goals for which they were founded, because it emerges that several others have been doing the same job and serving the same people earlier.
Frankly, some of these associations have been formed to target other associations because of alleged personal differences between members.

This is in addition to the so-called issue of fame and prestige.
This leads to their founders and office-bearers lacking in principles and carry a desire only to achieve their personal selfish interests.

I believe the authorities concerned should change the conditions necessary to obtain a licence to establish an association. They should carefully look at all such associations and weed out those that only serve personal interests. Only those that work for the welfare of the public should be permitted.

Unfortunately, the Labour and Social Development Ministry, when it set up its laws, did not know that there would be people who would one day exploit them and that there would be others looking for loopholes to achieve their own selfish interests.

Of course, many of the associations are still working with sincerity, efficiency and dedication to fulfil their responsibilities but some have become distrustful to the extent that the private sector is reluctant to support them. But is there a solution to this situation or will all the so-called remedies remain only on paper? 

I hope we will find ways to work around this rather unfortunate situation if we truly love our country.
I am sure there are many who would agree with me and strive to correct the rigmarole we find ourselves in.
It would certainly be a good idea to codify these associations and distribute them over the four governorates. That, for starters, may set the ball rolling to correct a wrong.

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