“He is supposed to promote NGOs. Instead, he works against them.” [Archives:1998/05/Front Page]

February 2 1998

There are a few ministers in the government of Dr. Faraj Bin Ghanim who do not fully comprehend their responsibilities. They are basically unaware of their duties. One such minister is Mr. Mohamed Abdullah Al-Batani, Minister of Social Affairs. The old man hails from a security background. He was, at one stage, the head of the ruthless State Police (sort of KGB) in the former PDRY.
The minister does not understand the concept of civil society, let alone promote it. He is supposed to nurture NGOs and enable them to play a more important role in our democratizing society. He doesn’t.
Let us use two examples. The Social Fund and the Public Works Project are two important independently managed vehicles which work to soften the adjustment blow due to the reforms on the vulnerable segments of our society. 2 NGO representatives sit on the boards of those bodies. Today, the Minister has proposed a new board which excludes NGOs.
A joint NGO-Government Committee was set up to draft a new law for NGOs. Although this body has worked for over a year free of charge, the Minister has now decided to side-step this committee. Another incentive to him is the World Bank money available for this effort.