Posted on

Analysis of the Financial Audit Bureau report – part 2

On 10 November 2016 the annual FAB report was issued, investigating failures in administration procedures in all public sector departments, ranging from cases of poor management to incidences of corruption potentially necessitating criminal action.

All departments are obligated to follow up and address the issues raised, with the most serious cases being referred to the public prosecutor. The report is also submitted to Parliament which each year reviews the issues raised and recommends actions to take.

Departments managed by the Ministry of Works, Municipalities and Urban Planning came in for criticism on a number of fronts: The management of rubbish was a significant issue; the lack of regulation of sand extracted from the sea bed raised a number of concerns; the oversight of municipal contracts and properties revealed a number of shortcomings; and also the management of agricultural, water and marine resources was also discussed at length.

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism came in for criticism regarding its failure to enforce and test commercial standards and to effectively regulate trademarks and fake products. In 2015’s FAB report there was specific criticism of failure to effectively monitor meat imports so as to ensure compliance with international standards; failure to take action against illegally operating slaughter houses and failure to conduct adequate inspections of meat establishments.

The system of social security benefits was criticized for a broad range of inconsistencies in payments. Finally, several shortcomings were raised concerning the manner in which the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority managed customer accounts.

Below is a department-by-department summary of the major issues cited in the report:

 

Public Authority for Social Security

(Ministry of Labour and Social Development)

  • The Minister has voided unemployment benefits requests 50 months after individuals became unemployed without this being on a clear legal basis. In 250 cases it was found that unemployment benefits were paid to those who voluntarily resigned, or to those who had found new jobs. 
  • Some cases of double payments of unemployment benefits were noted. In some cases benefits were paid to those seeking work ahead of the appointed time for them becoming eligible. Payments were also paid to the wrong individuals.
  • Project expenditure for the Ministry stood at only around 45%.
  • The National Social Fund lacked any kind of plan or strategy and the committee had failed to meet more than once since 2011.
  • The 2015 FAB report found a number of similar shortcomings, including: Outdated data used for calculating payments to low income families; failure to apply effective criteria for allotment of benefits; irregularities over backdated payments and payments to families living abroad. Long delays in adoption and child care services.

 

Ministry of Works, Municipalities and Urban Planning

  • The Ministry exceeded the 112 day deadline for finalizing contracts. The Municipalities Authority delayed submission of its closing budget until June 2016. All four governorates were delayed in submitting their closing budgets. The Municipal Planning Authority only spent 53% of its projects budget.
  • BD 176,000 in permit insurance fees for the Capital Governorate hadn’t been collected over 7 years. In the Northern Governorate properties were being rented out under contracts which had expired two years ago. For the Northern Governorate, 11 temporary employees had remained since 2007.
  • The Southern Governorate still hadn’t finalized a contract for managing the Shaabi market 167 days after the deadline. The Southern Governorate was contractually obliged to provide 43 security guards, and had not provided any compensation for its failure to do so.
  • Late payments for municipality advertising exceeded one year.

 

Oversight of municipality investment properties

  • Shortcomings concerning municipality investment properties persist, despite promises to address them.
  • 128 municipality plots of land are not included in its portfolio and the Ministry is said to know nothing about them. Municipal lands have been set aside for use by other entities, without the knowledge of the Ministry. Municipal lands are not included in the central register of govt properties at the Ministry of Finance.
  • There are omissions concerning for address data for 70% of municipal properties. Documentation for two plots of land had been lost.
  • The Ministry has no plans for municipality investment properties. 352 municipality plots with a land area of 3.8 million square meters are unused.
  • The Ministry and the municipalities failed to study their investment projects before putting them out to auction. The Capital Governorate is contracted to embark on BD 25,000 worth of projects, without having put these out to tender.
  • There is no policy of stipulating rents for municipality investment properties. The Capital Governorate relies on old studies.
  • Municipalities continue to rely on rent contracts going back 32 years. The Ministry has failed to apply rent raises in the case of 84% of contracts where this is stipulated.
  • The level of late rent payments for municipality investment properties has reached BD 4.2m. Municipalities have failed to take steps to obtain rents for many of their properties. No legal measures have been taken regarding large numbers of late payments.

 

Oversight of municipal revenues

  • The Ministry of Works has not implemented measures for addressing late payments. Legal papers have been filed in only 19 out of 115 cases. As of August 2015 there was BD 41m in outstanding fees and rent from municipal properties. Municipalities have continued providing services to accounts which are more than 3 months in arrears.
  • Several trading institutions only pay BD 2 in fees, in contravention of regulations. Municipalities rely on personal estimates by employees to determine fee levels. Fees for hotels are determined by the number of stars, not the size of the hotel.
  • Numerous entities pay fees which don’t reflect the correct usage of the property; or are used by people other than the individuals named on the account; or those not entitled to be tenants. Fines have not been imposed for violations of proper usage.

 

Management of agriculture and water resources

  • Usage of ground water has exceeded predicted levels, previously-agreed fee levels haven’t been applied, and well permits are being granted, despite regulations banning this. There is a lack of supervision of usage of wells and ground water sources.
  • Old wells which have been replaced have not been filled in. Numerous unlicensed wells exist, or are used for purposes not designated by the licenses. Proper use has not been made of existing surveys concerning ground water.
  • At least 146 farms receiving treated water have no meters for water consumption. Repairs to treated water pipelines have been delayed.

 

 

Management of marine resources

  • The Marine resources department in the Ministry of Works continued to issue permits for extracting sand from the sea bed without proper oversight.
  • The Ministry also failed to put together a committee to advise on suitable locations for extracting sand from the sea bed. Permits with no stipulated time limit, pricing levels or volume restrictions have also led to unnecessary damage and overuse. Some companies have been engaging in extraction without permits and other companies have been involved which have not met the appropriate criteria.
  • There had been a failure to collect fees for these activities over long periods which have caused severe damage to the sea bed. The delay of one year in issuing a new criteria for fees has acted as an obstacle to fee collection. No records exist for volumes of sand extracted or the localities affected.
  • Fishing licenses have been issued, despite decisions being taken not to do so “until further notice”. Failure to stipulate fishing levels has led to depletion in fish stocks.
  • The Ministry possessed no studies concerning oyster fishing and other key species, yet still gave out permits. Licenses continued to be granted, despite a decision being taken to halt oyster licenses.
  • The lack of sufficient trained staff to supervise fishing ports and marine markets; and conduct inspections out at sea throughout the day. Fees were collected from those using the ports without confirming what fees they were obliged to pay.

 

Marine culture management

  • The Ministry of Works has taken no steps to remedy issues raised in advisory reports. The Ministry has no clear criteria for measuring water cleanliness.
  • There has been a failure to provide sufficient food stocks. Productivity of the National Mariculture Centre over recent years has declined by 75%. No studies exist to monitor the programmes for releasing young fish to enhance stocks in the wild.
  • In the case of 70% of species found in regional waters, numbers have dwindled. Certain stocks of fish have been hit hard by bacterial diseases, resulting in reduced numbers.
  • There is no systematic system of fish farming permits. There is no systematic system for pricing farmed fish in the market.
  • Food stocks are not locked or monitored by security camera. Chemical products are stores in non-sterile environments at unsuitable temperatures. Quantities of food have exceeded their use by dates. Some of the equipment uses Chinese, making it difficult to use.

 

Rubbish disposal - Supreme Council for the Environment

  • There was a failure to put procedures in place for correct disposal of animal bodies as well as waste products from slaughterhouses.
  • The Council failed to put regulations in place for correct disposal of waste from health facilities. The failure of 130 institutions to burn waste products risked the spread of disease.
  • Oversight failures at the Askar refuse site led to a halt in the disposal of dangerous waste products. The Council failed to conduct adequate environmental testing at the facility. The site did not have the necessary infrastructure for preventing the leaching of liquefied pollutants.
  • There had been a halt in inspections to veterinary facilities since 2009.

 

Rubbish disposal - Ministry of Works and Municipalities

  • There has been an increase in the volume of waste deposited at the Askar refuse site from 1.42m – 1,045m tonnes in 5 years. For 30 years municipal and agricultural waste has been disposed of together, without any attempt at sorting or separation. The Askar site will have reached its total absorption capacity within 3 years, yet the Ministry has not found an alternative site.
  • The Ministry misses out on BD 186,000 in fees for failing to take account of waste disposed of outside working hours. BD 862,100 in fees is the amount owed to the two rubbish companies up until March 2016. Extending contracts with these companies has resulted in additional costs of BD 2.1m. Costs of contracting refuse workers has grown by BD 17m.
  • BD 1.54m has been paid for unimplemented awareness campaigns. Selling recyclable waste and donating the profits to charity without permission from the Municipality. Cars supposed to be used for inspecting the work of refuse collectors have been given to managers who have no such oversight role.
  • Weakness in oversight concerning anonymously-dumped rubbish. There have been 13,949 such cases since 2015. Improper disposal of dangerous and toxic medical waste. Large amounts of unprocessed waste were allowed to build up due to a dispute between the company and the Ministry.

 

Electricity and Water Board

  • There has been a delay in finalizing the 2015 closing budget. The EWB was said to lack an inventory of its financial procedures since 2007.

 

Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism

Industry standards

  • The Ministry has not established a lab for testing the quality of local and imported products. No ministerial decisions have been issues concerning the issuance of certification regulating quality and compliance with industry standards. The weakness in regulating products has directly impacted customers.
  • There has been a failure to conduct lab tests to confirm the absence of asbestos in products. Weakness in inspection procedures for confirming quality and compliance with industry standards through inspection visits. During 2015 there was a failure to undertake market inspections or to regulate trading establishments.

Regulation of brands and trademarks

  • There was a failure to adopt a unified and professional system for registering trademarks. There is an accumulation of 7,000 requests for brand accreditation which the Ministry has failed to deal with. Trademarks which expired over 16 years ago are still protected by the Ministry.
  • The Ministry allows for a timescale for the receipt of trademark complaints which exceeds the legal limit. There has been a two year delay in publishing approval in official newspapers for trademarks. No comprehensive record exists for international registered brands.

Inspection of fake brands

  • The Ministry has failed to conduct inspections resulting from complaints submitted by businesses. There have been no systematic campaigns of inspection to check for trademark violations and the cheating of customers.
  • Only 36% of the projects budget has been spent.
  • There was a failure to acquire any guarantees for obtaining rent for property holdres in the industrial areas.

 

Telecommunications Regulatory Authority

  • Monitoring of expenditure and revenues.
  • The Authority holds BD 19.537 in surpluses as of the end of 2015.
  • The Authority designated BD 13m in operating expenditure. A legal judgment in favour of a telecommunications company cost the Authority BD 4.5m from its 2012 budget.
  • The Authority has taken no action concerning telecommunications companies which have failed to submit data for 2013-15. The Authority hasn’t accounted for international mobile calls for one company for 2011-12. The Authority has accredited services for imported communications devices without collecting the fees. Information given to the tendering board concerning certain purchases was incorrect. Correct information has not been submitted concerning contracts with companies to a value of BD 144,000. The Authority hasn’t obtained insurance payments provided for in tendering contracts.

 

 

Analysis of the Financial Audit Bureau report – part 1

Justice Ministry

Jaafari Religious Endowments Administration

National Institution for Human Rights

Supreme Judicial Council

Culture and Antiquities Authority

Information Affairs Ministry

Foreign Affairs Ministry

Interior Ministry

 

Analysis of the Financial Audit Bureau report – part 2

Public Authority for Social Security

Ministry of Works, Municipalities and Urban Planning

Oversight of municipality investment properties

Oversight of municipal revenues

Management of agriculture and water resources

Management of marine resources

Marine culture management

Rubbish disposal - Supreme Council for the Environment

Rubbish disposal - Ministry of Works and Municipalities

Electricity and Water Board

Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism

Telecommunications Regulatory Authority

 

Analysis of the Financial Audit Bureau report – part 3

Government projects – Ministry of Finance

Management of National Debt

Mumtalakat

Edama

Health Ministry

Education Ministry

Bahrain Polytechnic

Rate this blog entry: