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Bahraini Opposition Criticizes New Cabinet Line-up & Calls for Government that Represents Fabric of Society

2015-10-02 - 6:55 p

Bahrain Mirror: The national opposition parties in Bahrain said the issuance of a royal decree regarding the limited "reshuffling" in the cabinet coincided with the Bahraini government's moves to lift subsidies on meat and vital state services, starting from October 1, 2015. They outlined that both steps fell short of representing anything more than cosmetic solutions for the wide political and economic crises in Bahrain over the past four and a half years.

They also stressed that after the announcement of the "smaller government" that was supposedly going to be formed to address the growing financial and economic crises, Wednesday's royal decree listed the same names of previous government officials and maintained the same number of ministries and governmental bodies as well as the large number of government advisers. The decree failed to make any real changes, in fact, it reflected an entrenchment of the monopoly of power and exclusion of the people from political participation. Sadly, this can only indicate the inability to make real political and economic changes to exit the crisis. It also reflects the level of conflict and contradiction, not only in this crisis, but on the broad level of the political and economic situations in the country. There is no doubt that such a step will only re-produce and accumulate the failures and problems of which the same government has been responsible for.

The national opposition parties further stated that the previously announced "smaller government" was thought to reflect the national fabric and enjoy effective authority to address the challenges of the deteriorating situation in the country. This could have started by giving opportunity for national agreement on a political solution that fulfills the people's rightful demands and an economic agreement to handle corruption, waste of public funds, the growing public debt and military and security spending which are all draining more than one third of current expenditures. In this context, Bahrain needs to restructure its government subsidies plan in order to avoid further negative consequences on the economy and so that citizens can enjoy a dignified life. However, the government has moved to lift subsidies on meat without referring to the concerned parliamentary commission, highlighting once again, the legislative authority's inability to stand in the face of government's policies by imposing decisions that protect the citizens. This brings to the fore the popular demands that are calling for a full-power parliament, fair electoral constituencies and an elected government.

The opposition highlighted that the decision to lift subsidies on meat comes amid an absolute absence of transparency about the impact of this decision on saving funds in the state budget. Furthermore, it raises questions on the true motives behind the decision, given the fact that the estimated budgets of 2015 and 2016 show the limited effect will not cross 24 million dinars. With the proposed -insufficient- cash compensations given to citizens, companies and restaurants will lay the burden of this decision on the citizens. Yet, the government is talking about lifting subsidies on other services and goods like oil, housing, electricity and water. The government should have presented its plan to lift these subsidies all in one project so that the negative financial effect on citizens can be recognized and compensated sufficiently.

The opposition also stressed that Bahrain is witnessing the disastrous results of the decades-long absence of real political participation on one hand, and the suppression and execution of poor development projects, corruption, mass naturalization, rising public debt, looting of national wealth and the swelling of governmental bodies on the other hand. Instead of working to achieve sustainable political and economic solutions for the serious economic challenges in the shadow of falling oil revenues, the state is insisting on its security approach, sectarian division and superficial solutions like reshuffling the cabinet. Thus, we can only expect the problems Bahrain is facing to aggravate in the coming days.

The national democratic opposition reiterated its call to launch a national dialogue to agree on political and economic solutions to exit the current crisis. The opposition is ready to support honest and real initiatives to respond to the rightful demands of the people, starting with an end to the adopted security solution and the release of all prisoners of conscience to pave the way for an inclusive political dialogue.

The national opposition concluded its statement by pointing out that the failing government that had wasted state revenues over the past decade and told the citizens they would not be affected by the decline in oil prices is laying the cost of its debts and budget deficit on the citizens today. It has become very obvious that the government's unilateral decisions have pushed the country into a political and economic impasse that can only be crossed through dialogue and agreement that ensure the participation of all political sides in state affairs and policies.

Arabic Issue


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