Bahrain ranked low in the global transparency index due to the spread of corruption and the involvement of senior officials in the ruling regime in suspicious and illegal financial transactions.
According to the global index for 2021, Bahrain ranked 78th, while Transparency International warned of the adverse effects of not fighting corruption on human rights.
Denmark, Finland, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany came in the top ten list ranks, with the first three countries having equal scores (88 degrees) and the second three countries (85 degrees).
The UAE was the highest Arab country in the transparency index and ranked 24th, down two places from 2020, and scored 69 points on the transparency scale. Qatar ranked second in the Arab world at 31st with 63 points.
In the Transparency Index, the organization stated that “in the Middle East and North Africa, the interests of a powerful few continue to dominate the political and private spheres, and restrictions on civil and political liberties impede any tangible progress.”
The organization noted that “while corruption takes significantly different forms from one country to another, this year’s findings reveal that all regions of the world are at a standstill when it comes to fighting corruption in the public sector.”
Western European countries, the European Union, Britain, the United States, and several countries have achieved advanced positions in the global transparency scale.
While the organization said that countries with well-protected civil liberties generally score higher on the index, countries that infringe civil liberties tend to score lower.
The Transparency Index report found that “rights, checks and balances are increasingly undermined not only in countries with systemic corruption and weak institutions but also among well-established democracies.”
The analysis shows that as many as 131 out of 180 countries have failed to make meaningful progress in the fight against corruption over the past decade, including Bahrain.
Transparency International’s analysis showed that the momentum required by the authorities’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic in many places weighed on efforts required for accountability.
Government funds in Bahrain are witnessing systematic financial embezzlement without supervision in light of the involvement of senior officials in the ruling regime in corruption.
Head of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee in the Shura Council, Khaled al-Maskati, stated that “despite the passage of 15 years since the establishment of the fund in 2006, we have not been able to reach the final account of the fund.”
Al-Maskati stated that the fund’s revenues during the past two years until 2020 amounted to 830 million dinars, which were benefited in several matters, including compensation for the wages of Bahrainis in the pandemic through an amount of 230 million from the fund’s revenues, which were made at 215 million to support the wages of Bahrainis, while 340 million dinars went to workers affected by the pandemic.
Al-Maskati pointed out that “it was discovered that the fund collects annually up to 59 million dinars, and according to a simple calculation, its expenses are estimated at 10 million dinars annually, meaning that there are still more than 40 million dinars in this account through approved revenues from employers and the worker himself, in addition to the government’s contribution. This means that this fund has no expiration or expiration date.
Al-Maskati stressed the necessity of activating the fund’s creation materials, which stipulate the presence of an external auditor and a separate account under the management of the Insurance Authority for this account, but that until the year 2020, there is no separate account. Hence, the matter calls for a final account as it is public money that must be noted and approved for publication in The Official Gazette and in two local newspapers to gain access to the account and the money it contains.”
A recent study by the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington highlighted that the absence of financial reform in Bahrain threatens it with a complete collapse.
The study said that Bahrain combines high levels of government debt and an uncertain state of fiscal reform. Still, previous external support from member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the potential for future economic aid packages helped the small country maintain access to capital markets.
The study warned that the maturities of foreign sovereign debt worth billions of dollars are looming on the horizon for Bahrain over the coming years. Still, it will have the option to refinance or restructure this debt.
Observers believe that both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are deliberately dumping Bahrain with foreign debts to ensure its ruling regime’s continued loyalty, which is embroiled in financial corruption scandals and a waste of the Kingdom’s capabilities.