• The Traffic Directorate has failed to collect BD 9 million of motoring fines, along with BD 10 million in fines for traffic accidents. The Electricity and Water Authority failed to disconnect services to consumers who owe tens of thousands of dinars in unpaid fees.
  • A retired director at the Ministry of Works continued receiving his monthly salary and bonuses for four years after retirement – amounting to BD 138,000. Parliament recruited a female employee who lacked qualifications, without her even attending an interview, and without the job being formally advertised.
  • There is a BD 10.9 billion shortfall in the fund for old age pensions. Numerous ministries are getting further behind in funding the budgets of major ongoing projects…

These shortcomings and financial violations are among those highlighted by the new annual report issued by the National Audit Office. The NAO report investigates all government departments and ensures transparency and accountability for all instances of corruption and mismanagement, with the most serious cases each year being passed on to Public Prosecution so that criminal action can be taken. The fact that copies of the report are personally submitted to the King and Prime Minister indicates how seriously this process is taken at the highest levels.

The transparent handling of such issues allows mistakes and failings to be properly addressed, in order to improve overall performance. As Minister of State Mohammed al-Mutawwa noted, there had been a 25% drop in the number of incidents identified by the NAO report between 2012 to 2017, amounting to 346 incidents cited by the 2016-17 report; with an 80% drop in the number of cases referred to Public Prosecution, to just five this year.

However, with the tightening of the economic situation in the past three years and citizens feeling an increasing strain on standards of living, there is greater concern than ever to ensure that every dinar of public funds is properly spent. Between 2014 and 2017 most Government departments have been forced to accept substantive cuts to their budgets in order to allow for the sharp drop in oil revenues, obliging all ministries to become increasingly efficient with their spending. The BD 400 million of wasted public funds cited by the NAO report represents a substantial proportion of the annual budget which could have been put to use on projects which would really make a difference to the public.

While we welcome efforts by the National Audit Office to highlight these issues; the public today needs to be given confidence that all incidents of corruption and malpractice will be addressed with the utmost seriousness by MPs, ministers and officials. This opportunity must not be wasted for improving standards of governance in Bahrain.

The National Audit Office was previously known as the Financial Audit Bureau. The below links provide access to Citizens for Bahrain’s reporting on the 2016 Financial Audit Bureau report:

  • Analysis of the Financial Audit Bureau report – part 1
  • Analysis of the Financial Audit Bureau report – part 2
  • Analysis of the Financial Audit Bureau report – part 3
  • Action needed after the Financial Audit Bureau report

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