Bahrain MPs to discuss Dialogue report
Manama, October 8, 2011
Bahrain's vision of a brighter future is set to get a fresh impetus this week when the Parliament will start discussions on the National Dialogue report, said officials.
The final report on the progress made by the government to implement the nearly 300 visions emerging from the Dialogue that ended in July was presented to His Majesty King Hamad by His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa on Thursday.
Officials said MPs will discuss the National Dialogue report after Assembly reconvenes for its second session of the third legislative term on Sunday.
The report had 291 demands and visions that were agreed on by more than 300 participants during the high-level talks held at the Isa Cultural Centre, Juffair, from July 2 to 25, said National Dialogue Committee spokesman Fahad Buallay.
'All the visions have been classified according to the four main themes of the Dialogue - political, social, economic and human rights,' he said.
Progress in implementing these visions has been documented in the final report, Buallay added.
'For example, if there is progress made on a certain issue or if it is still under process, it will be stated in the report,' said Buallay.
'In some cases, it will be mentioned that legislative amendment is required to implement certain recommendations.'
He said the comprehensive report contains more than 30 key recommendations agreed by the expatriate community during the final session of the Dialogue.
'The recommendations of the expat session are classified in the four main themes along with other visions,' said Buallay.
'Our goal is to bring together different points of view to develop common visions that will contribute towards further reforms and development in all fields,' he added.
He said that only the visions agreed by participants in the talks are included in the final report, while those disagreed or opposed were eliminated.
'The full final report will later be released to the public,' said Buallay.
'The talks were planned in a manner that the final report should be ready by the time parliament sessions start,' said Buallay.
He said His Majesty could issue a Royal decree for the implementation of some of the visions, while others would be handed over to parliament and the ministries concerned for further action.
Earlier this week, HRH the Premier met ministers to initiate legislative and legal measures aimed at achieving political reforms agreed in the Dialogue.
Some of the key points in the political theme stated in the report include enhancing the powers of parliament, including the right to accept or reject a newly-formed government as well as its four-year work plan.
Parliament will have the right to initiate discussions on any theme in addition to the agenda.
Ministers will also have to be present to answer questions in parliament sessions when issues are being debated related to their ministries.
In the economic theme, the key points included establishing an independent authority to oversee and implement management policies and financial transparency in the governance of ministries and institutions.
This is in addition to diversifying Bahrain's economy by reducing dependence on oil and boosting sectors such as tourism, industry and real estate.
Fighting corruption with the National Audit Court taking legal action against those who misuse public funds was also included.
Other key recommendations stated in the report include setting up a national body for reconciliation to promote human rights awareness among official and civil society organisations, particularly among law enforcement personnel.
The Dialogue also agreed that the practice of firing journalists based on their views or opinions should be made illegal and a code of ethics should be developed for journalists.
This is in addition to improving health services by increasing specialised health centres and an action plan by the Education Ministry to improve the quality of education.
The Dialogue was initiated by the leadership on May 30 without preconditions to address concerns of citizens in the wake of the political unrest.
Participants from political societies, civil society organisations, MPs and public figures took part in the talks and attended sessions three times a week.
A government committee was formed after the talks ended to follow up on the Dialogue chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa.-TradeArabia News Service