In a frank expression of the severity of corruption in Bahrain, facts and data reveal the spending of half a billion dollars from the state budget on a fictitious Shura Council appointed by the Al-Khalifa regime.
The writer Abbas Al-Murshed said in an article that until this moment, the Shura Council appointed by the King had drained more than 200 million dinars since its establishment in 2002, equivalent to nearly half a billion dollars.
Al-Murshed explained that the beginning was in 2003 when members of the Shura Council demanded to raise the Council’s budget by up to 41 per cent of the approved budget for the years 2003-2004, as the approved budget for the year 2003 amounted to one million and 917 thousand dinars.
At the time, the Council demanded to increase the budget to two million and 605 thousand, while the approved budget for the year 2004 reached 1,917,000 dinars. Hence, the Council demanded to increase it to two million and 694,000 dinars.
In 2018, it was approved to increase the estimated amount of the Shura Council to become 9,328,000 dinars for the fiscal year 2017 and 9,779,000 dinars for the fiscal year 2018.
It is noted that the Council’s budgets are inflated in light of the high fiscal deficit, the high public debt, the high percentage of taxes imposed on citizens, and the legalization of the increase in retirement pensions estimated at only 15 million dinars annually. We must remember that these official expenses only do not include retirement salaries or other gifts and gifts.
Al-Murshed said, “When we imagine the sums allocated for the Shura Council to take its political function, we will see that it drained enough to build more than 4,000 housing units at 50,000 per unit.”
He continued, “Then what is the importance and function of the Shura Council, which deserves to spend more than 200 million dinars on it? In political economy, something arouses suspicion and pushes to come up with approaches that do not appear to be apparent but are entirely compatible with the political purpose of establishing the Shura Council.
He stressed that the conditions for appointing members of the Shura Council, according to the 2002 constitution, are considered very primitive and loose to the extent that all deterioration and overthrow of seats in the Shura Council could reach the royal confidence cover.
In many cases, the Shura Council chair has become an economic barter, in which financial debts to members of the ruling family are settled in exchange for awarding a seat from the Shura Council or representatives. It also happens that the Shura Council chair becomes an economic lever and direct enrichment through the gifts, gifts and facilities obtained by the Shura member.
Therefore, whoever says that the members of the Shura Council represent the wealthy group, as they do not need the salary, is correct in his saying. Still, he does not complete the sentence explaining how the Shura Council chair enriches the rich, doubles their wealth, or receives the price of his bad debts.
Perhaps the most relevant question is, does governance need the Shura Council in light of the hegemony of absolute rule and the reference of the 2002 constitution that limits any popular participation or effective control overpower and the distribution of wealth and political power?
Indeed, the regime does not need the Shura Council if it governs the electoral districts by their sectarian distribution and ensures the victory of a loyal majority under the orders of the royal court.
Therefore, the need must be beyond the practical function. Here, the nature of governance is closely related to the absolute rule, which creates semi-popular institutions and then controls them and controls their outputs.
On the other hand, adherence to the Shura Council is the only guarantee to keep the political crisis raging, and it is the only mechanism by which the government forces the opposition forces to accept the reference of the 2002 Constitution.
As for the hidden part of the Shura Council’s job, it is the underlying and apparent political message from it, which is that there is no real partnership that the system of government can offer to the people and that the value of the legislative authority should not exceed the guaranteed equal share in favour of the House of Government.
In practical performance, the Shura Council exercised what was required and showed more ownership than the King himself in passing laws or vetoing other laws.
However, the Shura Council’s contempt for citizens and its transformation into a sharp knife in the side of the most significant social component was a crime that cannot be met with forgiveness or tolerance.
Al-Murshed concluded his article, “It is sufficient to take an inventory of twenty years for any observer to know what the Shura Council has provided. Is it worth 200 million dinars?”