Bahrain Shura blocks equal pay bill review
Manama, November 6, 2012
A royal decree that would unify the salaries, allowances and incentives of all civil servants was almost blocked for the second time by Bahrain’s Shura Council yesterday.
Its voting process was thwarted by council chairman Ali Al Saleh, who decided to withdraw the bill for further review by the legislative and legal affairs committee, according to a report in our sister publication the Gulf Daily News.
However, council members have to vote when the bill is brought to them for a third time after the revision.
The decree was issued last year during the National Assembly's annual recess and would bring the packages of employees in ministries and other government bodies in line.
It would do that by reducing the pay of new staff at government authorities and agencies, bringing them in line with those earning less in government ministries.
Under it, all civil servants come under the Civil Service Bureau's rules and regulations, but it would not see deduction in current wage structure for employees in government authorities and establishments - just on those newly recruited.
However, council financial and economic affairs committee chairman Khalid Al Maskati said the decree was pointless because 23 independent government bodies have been established and to return them under the guidelines of ministries would be impossible.
"Ten years ago when government authorities were formed, they intended to end bureaucracy and ensure that qualified people were attracted to do government work rather than go to the private sector for lucrative pay," he said.
"Now making everyone equal means that authorities have no reason for existence and will end up back to square one as just government departments, but under different names."
Council first vice-chairman Jamal Fakhro said the decree was not the solution to the current gap in pay.
"Quality pay gives quality output and that is what the country has seen when authorities and government establishments were moved from ministries and the grip of the Civil Service Bureau," he said.
"The government should be establishing more authorities and establishments because we have seen the great work done especially in speeding up services, schemes and projects from the bureaucratic, slow and weak ministries.
"This decree, issued for a political purpose due to last year's unrest, has taken us backwards rather than help the country develop."
Councillor Lulwa Al Awadhi said the government wanted to stop money being squandered, but ended up affecting the structure of payment for those in government bodies.
"This is unconstitutional considering that for two group people of the same rank, some would be getting higher pay than the other, because one was appointed before the decree and another after it," she said.
"The government can't fix the squandering problem with another problem, but that's what it did." – TradeArabia News Service