Bahrain MPs to grill ministers

Bahrain’s MPs are preparing to grill three ministers about irregularities in two pension funds in a rare move with little precedence in the Gulf emirate.

    The country's parliament was revived in 2002 after 27 years

    “The request to grill the three ministers will be tabled on Wednesday,” said Farid Ghazi, the head of a parliamentary investigative committee.

    Ghazi’s committee had drafted a report that pointed to irregularities in the two funds – one for civil servants and the other for private sector employees.

    Ghazi said that “all parliamentary blocs are agreed on making the request” to grill Labour and Social Affairs Minister Majid Muhsin al-Alawi who heads the fund for private sector employees, Minister of State Abdulnabi al-Shola and Finance and Economy Minister Abd Allah Hasan al-Saif.

    Parliament's first

    It would be the first time Bahrain’s 40-member parliament  will question ministers since it was revived in 2002 after a 27-year break.

    “Seventeen MPs representing the five parliamentary blocs and including a number of independents have signed the grilling request. We can say there is a consensus on questioning the ministers,” Ghazi said.

    The signatures of five MPs are needed for a request for ministers to appear before the parliament to be approved.

    Accountability

    "We are not looking for a fight with the government. All we are doing is playing our role as a watchdog"

    Farid Ghazi,
    Head of the parliamentary investigative committee

    “We are not looking for a fight with the government. All we are doing is playing our role as a watchdog…and seeking the restoration of the rights” of pensioners, Ghazi said.

    The parliamentary report, which cited interference by government ministers in the management of the funds and the waiving of loans granted to finance certain projects, was compiled after the director general of the fund for private sector employees told parliament last May that both funds were insolvent.

    Speaker Khalifa al-Dhahrani however tried to dissuade the MPs from requesting the grilling, saying it was “unjustified.”

    “We do not want to repeat the past,” the speaker said, referring to the scrapping of the elected parliament in 1975 after it clashed with the government on a state security law.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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