I think it is the season, that time of year when most citizens become experts in politics and political analysis. We found ourselves last week in front of a surprising reality that our government is going to shrink itself, with an intention to reduce cost and minimize bureaucracy. The news came so fast that it actually sounded more like a police siren, or a fire-truck zooming by. The problem here is that the general public didn’t see the fire, only the fast arrival of those firefighters.
Enough with this, for you all my dear readers, I will simplify as usual so that you can grasp a bit of what is happening in Bahrain at the government level, these days.
Around a couple of months ago, I wrote an article that says “Greece Today, Bahrain Tomorrow.” It was very clear to me, without being a member of the parliament or cabinet that we were spending much more than we were making. I made fun of those who proudly say that Bahrain has the best tax regime in the world, when I actually see it myself as the worse, because whatever wealth was made in the island, the government was not making anything out of it. We are simply spending without any kind of strategy or thought, and members of parliament are doing the exact opposite of what they were elected for. Instead of sourcing the government with funds, they put larger burdens on its spending.
To be honest, I am amazed that it took this long for our government to say enough is enough, and I pride His Royal Highness our dear Crown Prince for his courageous move to role up his sleeves and get to work. This should have happened a while back, but then again it is never too late until it is late.
I always thought that there might be a secret source of income for our government that I do not know about. How can someone survive in this manner, unless they wish that they created a Greece out of their situation? We simply do not know how to spend.
So basically this mini government is supposedly going to result in less spending and more efficient decisions at the cabinet level. There will be fewer ministers and more under secretaries. But if the ministerial authority were not given to the under secretaries, then this move would actually result in more bureaucracy, not less. At this day and age, I’ve personally noticed that even ministers are very limited with their decisions, so I’m not very optimistic on solving the bureaucracy issues, though I hope I am wrong.
As for reducing cost, I can say straight away that I fail to see how a mini government would directly result in cost reduction. The majority of the government spending is in providing public services, so unless this decision would result in cutting down public services, then having less ministers simply is not significant at all. I believe however, that there can be indirect outcomes out of this move, but this is certainly nowhere near clear from the information given by the government since the announcement.
We do not need to over analyze the situation we are in, the simple fact is that we need to tighten our spending, become more efficient, and find innovative ways to generate funds. I personally don’t know how fewer ministers would do the job, let’s wait and see.
One important note for everyone to take, including decision makers at the highest level in our country circulates around PR. There is no doubt that our government’s PR suffered very much last week. Seeing my dear friend Isa Abdulrahman, the minister of information, going on TV to fight the fire that his own government has created was surprising to say the least. We need to be more careful in how we announce initiatives and steps, and we need to pay more attention to the words we use and think about the public perspective receiving the news.
If it was me, I’d prepare the new mini government first, prepare the solution and the resolutions first, and issue a complete statement that discusses the issues and the decisions made without creating chaos in the market. Never shoot yourself in the foot. You might not have meant it, but you freaked out the local economy, and that’s not a good sign, the exact opposite of what you want. Cheers!