Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs (from Oct 2015)
Member of Government Action Plan Committee (Jan-Feb 2015)
Member of the Permanent Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs (From Nov 2014)
Chairman of the Committee for Responding to the King’s Speech (Jan 2015)
Member of Government Action Plan Committee (Jan-Feb 2015)
After a relatively low-key first year in the Parliament, Bu-Ali in October 2015 achieved prominence as the new head of the powerful Finance Committee.
Bu-Ali’s ability to mobilize his parliamentary colleagues behind a particular stance was demonstrated by his 10 March 2015 outspoken opposition to measures for privatizing the regulation of pearls, after which numerous MPs stood up to support his stance.
He was also strongly outspoken on the issue of the national debt, defending the need to limit the debt while not infringing on the rights of citizens. Bu-Ali was one of a dwindling number of MPs who remained steadfastly opposed to increasing the ceiling for levels of public borrowing.
Bu-Ali’s July 2015 comments criticizing the establishment of parliamentary committees on the subsidies issue hint at a vision for a more limited role for Parliament than that of many of his colleagues. Bu-Ali said that such policy issues should be left to the executive, while MPs should restrict themselves to oversight of implementation of these policies.
Bu-Ali’s assertive position on parliamentary support of the Yemen intervention in early 2015 attracted approving comments from colleagues.
Bu-Ali has a keen interest in economic issues such as privatization and employment. In spring 2015 he spoke out on the benefits of privatizing Gulf Air, in order to make the enterprise more financially viable. He also successfully advocated a bill for improving fishing facilities in his constituency.
ACTIVITY DURING 2015-2016 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Housing, services & infrastructure
Parking: Bu-Ali on 9 Aug confirmed the appropriation of land in Hidd for additional parking spaces.
Health: Bu-Ali on 12 Oct praised the Prime Minister’s directive to relocate the health centre in Hidd for conducting health check on foreign workers.
Good governance & public finance
Subsidies: Bu-Ali on 10 July noted that no official decisions had been taken for implementing meat subsidy reforms; noting that this would be debated in an upcoming joint session between ministers and MPs. Bu-Ali on 17 Aug said that the formation of a parliamentary committee to discuss the subsidies issue was the “biggest mistake” made by this Parliament, observing that policy-making was the preserve of the Govt, while Parliament was empowered to regulate the implementation of these policies. However, he said that the Govt lacked a clear vision for implementing subsidy reform, evidenced by its request for the parliamentary committee to put forward proposals and its failure to present any studies on the issue. He accused the Govt of trying to “throw the ball into Parliament’s side of the pitch”.
On 6 Oct Bu-Ali said that the report from the Subsidies Committee would be discussed during the coming parliamentary session on 13 Oct. He said that the full range of options were on the table for MPs in confronting the Govt’s “stubbornness” and “unilateral actions”. He said that he hadn’t been comfortable from the outset in the formation of a joint committee on the issue, because of his belief that the Parliament role was legislative, not executive.
During the 27 Oct open parliamentary debate on subsidy reform, Bu-Ali said that MPs had hoped that the subsidies issue would be discussed after the Subsidies Committee had submitted its report. He said that Bahraini incomes didn’t allow for the removal of meat subsidies. He said: “We fear that we will go to sleep with a particular wage and will then wake up the next day with a totally different income, as was the case with bonuses for doctors and teachers. This Parliament must take a courageous stance on this issue; activating Clause 65, holding ministers to account and interrogating them. What are you afraid of? I’m the first in line willing to hold ministers to account. The Government is falling short in its actions and Parliament is getting blamed. Bahrain is following an uncertain course and the Government has started begging for money to pay the national debt.” Bu-Ali added: “I have personally informed Prime Minister HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa that we don’t have to create more difficult situations in the country, as we’re already facing economic issues.”
Finance Committee: Bu-Ali on 21 Oct said that his Committee discussed a number of proposals, including a draft bill for increases in benefits payments, measures for obliging food outlets to notify consumers of the country of origin of foodstuffs; and proposals for regulating the trading hours of local businesses.
Benefit payments: During their weekly meeting on 20 October MPs voted in favour of measures to enshrine counter-inflation payments into law and more clearly define who is entitled to them. Bu-Ali emphasized that the negotiations on these benefits during discussion on the Govt Action Plan and the State Budget must not be allowed to happen again. These benefits must be enshrined in law so that there was no going back on them.
Policing & regional security
Security: Bu-Ali on 13 Aug issued a statement praising the Interior Ministry for apprehending those accused of involvement in the recent Sitra attack which killed two policemen.
Yemen: Bu-Ali on 4 Sep extended his condolences over the deaths of 5 Bahraini soldiers and other GCC troops in Yemen, saying that these sacrifices set an example for the region.
US: On 9 Sep Al-Watan newspaper canvassed MPs’ views about US “interference” in Bahrain. Bu-Ali criticized the failure of Bahraini diplomats to address foreign misconceptions of Bahrain.
Iran: On 2 Oct Bu-Ali voiced his support for the expulsion of the Iranian ambassador, after the discovery of a bomb-making factory in Bahrain linked to Iran and other recent hostile Iranian acts.
Rights & freedoms
Mosques: Bu-Ali on 16 July praised the Sunni Waqf department for its work to respond to the needs of mosques in his Hidd constituency.
Alcohol: The 27 Oct parliamentary session discussed a motion put forward by a number of MPs calling for a crackdown on alcohol sales on Reef Island (Submitted in March by MPs Abdulhalim Murad, Abdulrahman Bu-Ali, Jamal Dawoud, Muhsin al-Bakri and Ali al-Muqla).
Parliament role & constituent engagement
Prime Minister: Bu-Ali on 4 Sep praised the PM as an “exceptional role-model” for the people of Bahrain and noted his dedication to addressing the needs of citizens.
Affiliation: Al-Wasat newspaper on 4 Oct signaled that a new parliamentary bloc was likely to be established at the beginning of the new parliamentary term, consisting of MPs Al-Asoumi, Bu-Ali, Qaratah, Al-Bakri, Al-Maarifi, Al-Noaimi, Al-Hammadi, Bin-Huwail and Turki.
Committees: During the 14 October vote concerning membership of the Finance Committee for the new parliamentary term, Isa al-Kooheji, Khalid al-Shaer and Nasir al-Qaseer were voted off the Committee with only ten votes, ten votes and 15 votes respectively. During the same vote, Jalal al-Mahfoudh won 37 votes, Mohammed al-Ammadi won 36 votes, Abdulrahman Bu-Ali (selected as the Chairman of the Finance Committee with Al-Mahfoudh as his deputy) 35 votes, Adel Bin-Hamid 34 votes, Majid al-Asfour 31 votes, Ahmed Qaratah 28 votes and Ali Bufarsan 25 votes. The Parliament Administration had initially refused petitions for altering the members of this Committee, but were forced to concede in the face of strong pressure from numerous MPs.
Parliament: In mid-October Bu-Ali gave an interview with Bahrain TV’s In Parliament progress, during which he evaluated the performance of Parliament over the previous year and criticized the Govt’s handling of the subsidies issue, saying that ministers should not have begun with meat subsidies.
ACTIVITY DURING 2014-2015 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Housing, services & infrastructure
Housing benefit: Bu-Ali was one of five MPs who proposed increasing housing allowance from 100 to 200 BD, the proposal was debated and approved in Parliament on 17 March.
Standards of living, health & education
Rotten meat: In the 27 January parliamentary session Bu-Ali questioned the Ministry of Trade on actions it had taken regarding the “rotten meat” issue.
During the 5 May parliamentary session, Bu-Ali submitted and then promptly withdrew his request to withdraw from the Rotten Meat Committee.
Meat subsidies: Regarding the Govt’s plan to halt meat subsidies and replace them with cash payments to Bahraini citizens; Bu-Ali on 20 May said that the Financial Committee had told the Finance Minister that they rejected the Govt taking such decisions without consulting Parliament. Bu-Ali said that Parliament wasn’t in principle against removing subsidies, but that this shouldn’t negatively affect citizens.
During the 26 May parliamentary discussion, a majority of MPs spoke out against the Govt’s plan for halting meat subsidies. Bu-Ali remarked, “With the approach of the Holy Month of Ramadan, citizens are concerned about the increasing expenses, especially foodstuff. We should seek means to support them during these times, instead of depriving them of subsidized consumables. If implemented, this decision will have a negative and direct impact on citizens.”
During the 2 June open parliamentary debate on planned subsidy cuts, Bu-Ali noted parliamentary support for subsidy reform “bud sadly the Government took the decision to lift subsidies unilaterally”. He said that MPs must stand together in supporting the needs of citizens. Bu-Ali noted that the Budget contained many “unnecessary” projects, including BD 10m on cricket pitches.
Health: Bu-Ali confirmed that an agreement had been reached for expanding the local health centre in his local constituency, Hidd. (9 March)
Education: Bu-Ali has proposed in a private bill that the Education Ministry introduce compulsory lessons in “security and safety” in schools, to make young people better aware of the implications of their actions for society. (16 March)
Bu-Ali made a complaint after being denied access to a school where a teacher was suspended for brutally beating a student. (16 April) Bu-Ali on 23 April criticized failures by the Education Ministry to address violent incidents perpetrated by teachers in schools. Bu-Ali said that he had received a number of related complaints from parents: “What is more dangerous is that incidents of physical and sexual assault take place within the school, but never come out in the open,” he said.
Services: During the 12 May parliamentary session around 15 proposals previously submitted by MPs were approved in a series of votes. These included a centre for social services in Bu-Ali’s 8th Muharraq district.
Economy & employment
Foreign workers: During the 3 March parliamentary debate on the so-called “free visa” system”, Bu-Ali said that the fault lay with Bahraini citizens who “engaged in people trafficking and were more dangerous than drug dealers”.
Pearl monitoring: During a stormy 10 March parliamentary debate over a bill for privatizing monitoring the quality of pearls and precious stones, Bu-Ali said that the bill verged on being unconstitutional and questioned why it had been brought as an urgent bill. He said that many MPs by approving this bill were simply trying to “satisfy the Government” and MPs shouldn’t buy into the story being “spun” to them by ministers. Bu-Ali said: “We have an internationally recognized laboratory. I consider this to be handing the tools of oversight over to foreigners”. Several MPs stood up and stated their support for Bu-Ali’s comments.
Education jobs: On 15 March Bu-Ali formally questioned the Education Ministry about the numbers of those coming forward for jobs and reasons for rejecting them. He also questioned the Ministry about numbers of foreign teachers who had been recruited and how their pay levels compared with those for Bahrainis.
Fishing: Parliament on 21 April agreed on Bu-Ali’s proposal for modifying fishing cabins on the Hidd coast and setting up a local fish market. The Municipalities Ministry objected that this contradicts a similar proposal already being implemented. However, Bu-Ali responded that the needs of local people should come first.
Gulf Air: Bu-Ali on 22 April was among the MPs sponsoring a private bill for privatization of Gulf Air. “Gulf Air has to be privatized and offered to the public because that is the best way to ensure it is run commercially and the Government doesn’t shoulder losses, said Bu-Ali. Co-sponsors include Khalid al-Shaer, Ghazi Al Rahmah, Mohammed al-Ahmed, and Jalal al-Mahfoudh.
Private sector: Bu-Ali on 4 May proposed a private bill stipulating that the public sector could only have a maximum of 30% ownership of trading companies outside the oil and gas sector. Ibrahim al-Hammadi, Jamal Dawoud, Abbas al-Madhi and Abdullah Bin-Huwail co-sponsored the proposal.
Good governance & public finance
Public debt: During the 10 March parliamentary session Bu-Ali and Ahmed Qaratah raised concerns at reports that the Government planned to increase its debt levels to 9bn BD.
During the 24 March parliamentary session to discuss a possible rise in the debt ceiling, Bu-Ali rejected sending the proposal back to the Financial Committee for further discussion and voted with the majority of MPs to reject an increase in the debt ceiling. Bu-Ali said that he regretted that during the previous parliamentary sitting the Finance Minister had failed to produce a strategy for reducing public debt. He described the Minister’s justifications for increasing the debt ceiling as “weak”.
On 27 March Bu-Ali stressed the continuing cooperation between Parliament and the Government. Bu-Ali said that the Parliament’s decision to reject increasing levels of public debt was “justified and natural, in the light of the absence of the necessary information and statistics”. Bu-Ali warned against Bahrain becoming the “Greece of the Gulf”. On 25 March, Bu-Ali indicated the possibility of interrogating the Finance Minister if services to citizens were stopped. He stressed that these services were the citizens’ “right”.
Bu-Ali was among the deputies who strongly welcomed the Prime Minister’s pledges that essential public services and benefit programmes would not be affected by the parliamentary vote limiting the debt ceiling. He issued a joint statement with MPs Jalal al-Mahfoudh and Ali al-Muqla, which also questioned the Government’s failure to outline a plan for addressing the public debt. (1 April)
According to Al-Watan on 14 May Bu-Ali was one of the 9 MPs who said that they would reject increasing the debt ceiling to 7bn BD.
Bu-Ali on 20 May said that the Finance Minister had told the Financial Committee that public debt could reach 10bn BD by the end of 2016. He added that the meeting had discussed measures for developing Government revenues.
Audit report: During the 14 April parliamentary debate concerning the annual Financial Audit Bureau report, Bu-Ali stressed that the Report was the “right arm of the Parliament”. He criticized previous parliaments for not taking the necessary action. He criticized the use of foreign brokers by the Health Ministry for overseas treatment; he attacked the Culture Authority for “spending millions on boring and immoral festivals” and criticized Alba for spending 14 million dollars without clear purpose.
Minister interrogation: Bu-Ali on 19 April said that the summons for the interrogation of the Health Minister was ready and was awaiting further signatures. He said that 15 MPs had signed so far. He noted the alleged violations at the Health Ministry which required investigation and stated his hope that the Minister would be summoned before the end of the present Parliament sitting.
Bu-Ali said that the decision would be taken by the relevant committee about questioning the Health Minister on 4 May and a vote would be taken the following day.
During the 5 May parliamentary session an insufficient number of MPs voted in support of interrogating the Health Minister over issues raised in the Audit report (23 supported, below the 2/3 quota of 27 MPs).Bu-Ali voted in favour of the interrogation.
Bu-Ali on 6 May said that the failure to secure the Minister’s interrogation would not affect the possibility of other interrogation proposals, noting that there were a number of such proposals under review. Bu–Ali said that a proposal was being discussed to amend the Parliamentary Code to reduce the number of MPs required to only five.
Budget: Bu-Ali on 14 April told Al-Wasat that during the previous parliamentary meeting with the Finance Minister, they had been “indirectly” informed that the Budget would be based on oil prices of $60 per barrel. He said that the Budget had been put before the Government a week previously and it had been rejected for not upholding pledges for benefits to citizens. Bu-Ali thanked the Prime Minister for taking this step. Bu-Ali accused the Finance Ministry of delaying the Budget so spending levels would automatically remain as they are. So there would be a necessity for an increase in debt. He said that such a delay was unconstitutional.
Bu-Ali said that in the 27 April meeting with Government representatives MPs were told that the Budget was based on oil prices set at $60 per barrel. He said the meeting was “friendly and consultative” and contained details of the forthcoming Budget.
Bu-Ali on 23 April proposed extending Parliament’s annual sitting to ensure adequate time to discuss the Budget.
On 11 May Bu-Ali said that the Finance Committee had “received the Budget, but it contains no details”. He said that therefore the Committee is waiting to receive the details of “how finances are distributed and whether citizens will be affected by the reductions”.
In an interview to Al-Ayam, Bu-Ali on 18 May complained that projects which had been agreed in the Action Plan had not been included in the Budget. He said that he expected the Parliament to require more than a month to discuss the Budget.
Bu-Ali on 18 May said: “We should be exempted from the whirlpool of public debt because of our annual receipt of oil revenues”. On 17 May, Bu-Ali noted that one of the questions to the Government concerned reducing subsidies for non-Bahrainis.
Bu-Ali on 31 May said that the Finance Committee was studying a number of responses by the Govt to their queries. He noted that both his Committee and the Shura Council Finance Committee agreed on the need to reduce expenditure on projects, many of which were lower priority in the current climate.
Parliamentary questions: Bu-Ali on 17 May submitted a proposal for removing the limitation on MPs for making only one formal set of questions to the Government per month. He said that these questions were one of the principle oversight tools available to MPs.
Policing & regional security
Yemen crisis: During the 31 March parliamentary debate Bu-Ali praised the GCC forces fighting in Yemen and “defending our nations… We say to the world: It is our right to defend our existence”. Bu-Ali was one of the primary sponsors of the proposal to issue a statement defending the Arab intervention in Yemen.
Youth, culture & sport
Sport: Bu-Ali was one of 10 MPs who on 16 March proposed an open parliamentary debate with the relevant minister to discuss what the Government was doing to promote Bahraini sport and athletes.
Grand Prix: Bu-Ali on 15 April praised the economic benefits of the Formula One in Bahrain. Bu-Ali on 19 April praised Bahrain’s leadership for the success of the F1.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
Conference: Bu-Ali attended the Islamic Parliament Conference in Turkey (19 January) as the representative of the Bahraini Parliament.
King’s speech: On 26 January Bu-Ali said that his Committee was making progress in drafting its response to the King’s speech. On 9 February, Bu-Ali said that the final draft of the parliamentary response would be put before Parliament “this month”. On 11 February it was reported that the Committee had completed its final draft.
- Standards of living, health & education – 5
- Housing & services – 4
- Policing & regional security – 5
- Good governance & public finance – 8
- Economy & employment – 7
- Supporting constituents & youth – 5
- Rights & freedoms – 3
- Constructive Parliament role – 5
- Public visibility – 3
- Progressive/reformist credentials – 4
Results of 2014 elections – 8th Muharraq
Areas covered: Southern Muharraq; Hidd
Housing blocks: 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 110, 111, 112, 113, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 128
Registered voters: 9,065; Percentage 1st round voter turnout: 85.9%
Contest decided by outright win in the first round of voting.
First round votes:
Abdulrahman Bu-Ali – 4197 (55.7%)
Samir Khadim (MP) – 3020 (40.1%); Abdullah Bughamar (Al-Saff) – 323 (4.3%)
Profile of election campaign: Abdulrahman Ali Abdulrahman Bu-Ali
Abdulrahman Bu-Ali’s outright win against popular MP Samir Khadim in the first round of the election was a result that surprised many and is an indicator of how demographic dynamics have shifted in this complex constituency. In the 2012 by-election to replace the resigned Asalah MP Ghanem al-Buaynayn, Samir Khadim only narrowly beat Abdulrahman Bu-Ali, with Bu-Ali gaining 47% in the second round of the vote.
During the contest Bu-Ali urged voters to play a more active role in monitoring the parliamentary activity of elected MPs and censuring deputies who fail to perform effectively. Bu-Ali is a committee member for significant local youth clubs. Bu-Ali enjoyed the support of the Salafist Al-Asalah Society during past elections contests, as well as having close ties with local cultural associations, intellectuals and local elites.
Bu-Ali was always seen as a strong contender. However, he has done well to unseat an incumbent – Samir Khadim – who enjoys strong local support. This is particularly the case as there was said to be widespread local satisfaction at Khadim’s performance as a deputy since 2012, including with his care to maintain close relations with local constituents. Khadim hails from northern Hidd, which according to pundits guaranteed him substantial support from those areas. Abdulrahman Bu-Ali is a southerner and enjoys a near-guaranteed support base, in an area where kinship ties and local solidarity are crucial.
Hidd contains a large industrial area, substantial port and customs facilities, as well as boat-building and repair industries. There is a mixed working-class population and many new residential areas. There is also a north-south divide in this locality, which commentators have noted as a strong factor in who voters get behind. Until the 2012 by-election, this district had been held by the Salafi Al-Asalah society. The 86% first round turnout is remarkable for any elections and indicates how loyal people in this area are to their preferred candidates and their sense of voting as a national obligation.
Know your deputy: Profiles of other Bahrain MPs
Adel al-Asoumi – 1st Capital
Ahmed Qaratah – 2nd Capital
Adel Bin-Hamid Abdulhussain – 3rd Capital
Deputy-Head of Parliamentary Human Rights Committee
Abdulrahman Bumjaid – 4th Capital
Nasser al-Qaseer – 5th Capital
Deputy Head of the Permanent Committee for Financial and Economic Matters
Ali al-Atish – 6th Capital
Osamah al-Khajah – 7th Capital
Shaikh Majid al-Asfour – 8th Capital
Mohammed Jaffar Milad – 9th Capital
Nabil al-Balooshi – 10th Capital
Ali Bufarsan – 1st Muharraq
Head of Committee for Youth and Sports
Ibrahim al-Hammadi – 2nd Muharraq
Jamal Buhassan – 3rd Muharraq
Isa al-Kooheji – 4th Muharraq
Head of the Permanent Committee for Financial and Economic Matters
Mohammed al-Jowder – 5th Muharraq
Abbas al-Madhi – 6th Muharraq
Ali al-Muqla – 7th Muharraq
Abdulrahman Bu-Ali – 8th Muharraq
Fatimah al-Asfour – 1st Northern
Deputy Head of the Committee for Women and Children
Jalal Kadhim al-Mahfoudh – 2nd Northern
Deputy Head of Committee for Youth and Sports
Hamad al-Dossary – 3rd Northern
Ghazi Al Rahmah – 4th Northern
Deputy Head of Permanent Committee for Public Utilities and Environment
Ali al-Aradi – 5th Northern
Deputy Head of Parliament
Rua al-Haiki – 6th Northern
Shaikh Majid al-Majid – 7th Northern
Head of the Permanent Committee for Shari’ah and Legal Matters
Dr. Isa Turki – 8th Northern
Abdulhamid Abdulhussain al-Najjar – 9th Northern
Deputy Head of Committee for Supporting the Palestinian People
Mohammed al-Ammadi – 10th Northern
Head of Committee for Supporting the Palestinian People
Jamal Dawoud – 11th Northern
Head of Permanent Committee for Public Utilities and Environment
Jamila al-Sammak – 12th Northern
Head of the Committee for Women and Children
Khalid al-Shaer – 1st Southern
Head of Parliamentary Human Rights Committee
Mohammed al-Ahmed – 2nd Southern
Abdulhalim Murad – 3rd Southern
Second Deputy Head of Parliament
Mohammed al-Maarifi – 4th Southern
Deputy Head of the Permanent Committee for Services
Khalifa al-Ghanim – 5th Southern
Anas Buhindi – 6th Southern
Deputy Head of the Permanent Committee for Shari’ah and Legal Matters
Abdullah Bin-Huwail – 7th Southern
Head of the Permanent Committee for Foreign, Defence and National Security Affairs
Dhiyab al-Noaimi – 8th Southern
Mohsin al-Bakri – 9th Southern
Ahmed al-Mulla – 10th Southern
Head of Parliament