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The bureaucratic blame game...

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By Winfred Peppinck


There is something rotten in the state of Denmark! – Shakespeare

Perhaps, there is something rotten in the state of Bahrain; viz some administration.

Many like me would have been disgusted at the news, even though it was at the lowest level of governance, the Council level, in relation to the problems in Northern Governorate.

Which, in the old “blame game,” immediately, and rightly, blamed government ministries.

As a former bureaucrat, knowing how “the system works” in a number of countries, the most feared by many was being called before the expenditure review committee of the senate.

They forensically check every ministries’ annual budget allocation, and were renowned in places like Treasury, finance ministries and the foreign ministry, in ensuring that expenditure met the budget’s allocation.

Wo-betide those who had over expended that budget allocation, and those who had under-spent as well.

The famous parliamentary “razor gang,” often cutting future allocations, from ministry budgets.

Different to Bahrain, of course, because the budget was dependent in many areas on taxation and parliamentarians were subject to close scrutiny on expenditure, particularly because they were required to justify tax increases paid by the community and business.

And there was no escaping, because all companies, small businesses too, simply had to register for an Australian Business Number (ABN) at the outset so that the government was not just relying on the Goods and Services Tax (GST, the equivalent of the VAT), to raise revenue.

Now, all citizens must have a (tax file number) TFN.

As Ben Franklin, one of the fathers of American Constitution, said, “There are only two certainties in life: Death and taxes.

No one escapes the tax man!

Without a similar scheme in Bahrain, the VAT will mean the projected returns to government coffers may be less than anticipated.

If ever there was a need for a “razor gang,” look at the ministry which did not provide the funding, sitting on its collective rump for over a year, while it pondered!

The funds were required for major infrastructure projects sought by the Northern Governorate, with funding already approved by the government!

That the ministry was very lax, slack, in the extreme, without any explanation, to the governorate certainly requires explanation to parliament.

Parliament doesn’t have “teeth” but it does have the ability to harry and pursue publicly issues of gross ineptitude.

It can bring the proverbial “blow torch to the belly”.

Similarly, something needs to be done about the “running sore” of GPZ and no payment of staff wages for over eight months, and despite the “tough words” of the ministry, nothing appears to have been resolved again and again.

So too, another auction for Amwaj Gateway, now eighth time, by the stalled projects committee, and ridiculously the same committee can’t move on to other “stalled projects” like Marina West.

As tennis legend, John McEnroe used to say, you must be joking!

Simply, unthinkable, reflecting very poorly on Bahrain’s reputation to resolve tough issues.

winfredpeppinck@gmail.com

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