Khaleej Times - 4/5/2006
The Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Khalifa Al Daharani, has urged the lawmakers not to make hasty conclusions in rejecting the final report of the state budget for 2004 as "unrealistic", and give more time to the government to provide all the relevant documents demanded by the Financial Committee.
However, following discussions, final statement of the state budget of 2004 was postponed for two weeks for further discussion.
Corruption in Aluminium Bahrain (ALBA) and Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO) was the focus of the discussion, with most deputies threatening to reject the report if the government failed to question the ministers concerned regarding financial and administration matters.
Around $208 million in oil revenues was missing in the report as the report showed only $143 million as the income, when the actual amount should have been around $350, argued Financial Committee member and Deputy Isa Abulfateh.
He told the Chamber that he was not convinced that the report was completely transparent in providing the real figures of the oil revenues in that year.
The committee suspected the accuracy of the revenues when it calculated the production of oil in 2004, when it reached around 92 billion barrels, he said while pointing out the average of oil prices that year was much higher than what was written in the report.
"The oil revenues through export could be estimated as $192 million and $60 million should be the income from local sales. However, the report showed only $143 as the total income," Abulfateh said.
Abulfateh said refineries all over the world generated profits much higher than their expenses, while the operational cost of the kingdom's refinery reached $1 million daily.
The Minister of Finance, Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, rejected the accusations and said the statement was accurate and that the government was confident about its sincerity in dealing with the legislative authority.
"We have been cooperative with the panel as we have provided them with nine reports by different ministries and detailed information about the national debt. We have not provided only those details that are not under our authority," the minister said.
Deputy Mohammed Khalid said that the multi-million government projects that were supposed to be implemented in 2004 were delayed for no proper reasons and that had increased the financial obligations on the state budget of 2005.
Deputy Ali Matter expressed concern over the kingdom's national debt that reached BD1,454 million, while Deputy Isa Abulfateh said that many loans paid in 2004 were not the ones that were approved by the legislative authority. The minister explained that these were instalments of old loans that were taken before the formation of the parliament.