How Did Bahraini Crown Prince Manipulate NAO Report Results?

2019-11-07 - 6:22 ص

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): In Bahrain, acts of corruption are referred to with soft terms such as "remarks". Following his meeting with the Government Executive Committee which reviewed the 2018-2019 National Audit Office (NAO) report on (October 30, 2019), the Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa said that 10 remarks mentioned in the report were referred to the public prosecution over criminal suspicions.

It is the flexible language on the same corruption Bahrainis have been accustomed to hearing for 16 years every time the NAO annual report is issued before it becomes forgotten. While corrupt people in neighboring Saudi Arabia were taken to the Ritz-Carlton and forced to sign concessions on their wealth and prevented from travelling until their obligations were paid, Bahrain's Crown Prince spoke of "remarks that may contain criminal suspicions."

The National Audit Office report for 2018-2019 included results of 102 monitoring missions involving many critical state institutions like: Information and eGovernment Authority, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain Tender Board, Civil Service Bureau, Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism, Mumtalakat, Bahrain Airport Company, Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments, Customs Affairs in the Ministry of Interior, and National Oil and Gas Authority.

However, among all the results, the Executive Committee headed by the Crown Prince chose silly violations committed by two sports clubs to refer to the public prosecution. Among the 10 remarks referred to the prosecution, one regards the Budaiya Cultural Sports Club and another the Al-Najma Sports Club.

What does the Crown Prince want to say? If the rich people steal, we'll leave them, yet if the poor do, we'll punish them. This is how the Bahraini government deals with corruption in its agencies.

The latest statistics issued by the Central Bank of Bahrain show that in September alone, the public debt increased by 752 million dinars to 12.045 billion dinars after a stable four-month period of 11.293 billion dinars. The NAO report has another story to tell: the debt almost reached 13.9 billion dinars. This comes a year after the Gulf Balance program was approved to save Bahrain's financial situation in October 2018 and after imposing VAT and lifting subsidies on many goods and services.

The IMF and the World Bank, whose advice Bahrain takes to lift subsidies on goods and impose taxes on citizens, adopt "transparency and accountability" as one of the necessary mechanisms to manage public debt. Bahrain seems to have decided to resort to anything but transparency and accountability. 

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