Economic Healing: How could we Heal if the Government is Sick?

2021-11-17 - 9:58 p

Bahrain Mirror: A symposium at the Nationalist Democratic Assembly building, where economist Ibrahim Sharif was supposed to take part in, was canceled as per Justice Ministry orders.

The ministry did not provide any justification for the cancellation of the symposium, which was scheduled to discuss a financial topic only and was to be held online. Hence, it is not a political issue and it has nothing to do with the medical precautions to combat the Coronavirus pandemic

The question here is why are people prevented from practicing their right to discuss the government program that is supposed to restore the lost balance of the country's finances, especially after the failure of the previous program? Why does the government take decisions alone in Bahrain without referring to anyone?

The government approved its plan in the Cabinet and announced some of its details at a press conference (November 1, 2021), without involving any of the relevant parties such as the House of Representatives, Shura Council, Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry or the banking sector in developing the plan.

Instead, a ridiculous campaign was launched in local newspapers to praise the plan. The campaign proposes the parties that should demand partnership in such plans, until one of them even declared that "the plan makes Bahrain the most attractive for investment."

It is just empty words in the newspapers that are not based on any facts. Doesn't the trader ask where he wants to invest his money? Doesn't he want to invest his money in a stable and transparent financial environment? 

Where is the stable and sustainable financial environment in a country that is exhausted by debts that constitute more than 115% of GDP? How will the Government achieve balance in a budget whose debt interests consume about one third of its revenues with the rest spent on its recurrent expenses?

Why, instead of these hollow statements, is the government not being transparent with regard to its external debts that are not included in the general budget, as shown in the recent National Audit Office report? Why is it not asked to disclose the fate of oil surpluses every year?

Why isn't the government asked what kind of investments it wants to attract? And what it is going to do to attract $2.5 billion investments in just two years? How can the government launch strategic projects that exceed $30 billion over the years planned in the economic recovery plan?

The government announced a similar $30 billion investment in 2015, but strategic projects are carried over each time for another plan that is written only on papers.

The government has failed in the program it launched in 2018, and it seems that the success conditions for this program are not adequate.

Instead of applauding the plan, the relevant parties should have demanded the government to discuss the reasons for the failure of the previous plan and discuss them in detailed initiatives that would improve the chances of success of the current plan, particularly with regard to the balance and employment of Bahrainis.

The Government does not want to listen to anyone, no seminar, no parliament, no merchants and no bankers. It only wants to hear the echo of its voice and the applause in the local press. This government was pleased with Al-Watan's survey, which reported that 72% of citizens support its decision to increase the Value Added Tax.

Such a government, which is sick with corruption, decision-making and slackness, has never been able to overcome its corruption and illness, so how can it restore the country's well-being financially, economically and politically?

Arabic Version