Both, it seems are about to rise. And rise appreciably. The government – bless their souls – have had enough pumping good money into various subsidies which – they finally realised – benefits both the haves and the have-nots.
In fact, they just benefit the haves and even finance various businesses too via the subsidised goods, the price of shawarma for instance remains “reasonable” due to the ready availability of subsidized meats, bread and vegetables too.
So, the test balloons have been released over the last couple of weeks via “judicious” press leaks – well, if you consider four-pound hammers cracking a walnut judicious, that is – and now over the last couple of days, they just came out and said it: the subsidies will be of the past very soon. The government no longer has the luxury of dedicating some BD200 million a year to do just that. The first commodity to be hit will be the Mumtaz fuel it seems. Then it will roll down on to other commodities.
The premise the government is throwing at us is that they will ensure that those in need will be taken care of and subsidies will be routed appropriately. They’re a bit sketchy on this little detail of course, but I’m sure the CIO will once again pull that proverbial rabbit out of their hat. Or, maybe, they’ll put the “smart card” to use. Coupled with the deep data mining they are capable of, they wouldn’t be too taxed in finding those who are actually in need.
Some skeptics are not convinced of the motives and are less so about the implementation. I can’t say that I don’t agree for the details are anything but crystal. I would be very happy if this newly elected parliament with its greater number of “independents” a lot of whom are businessmen would look at the budget and plans acutely. They need to, and they need to hold the government to account and press it for full transparency – especially the black hole which is the CIO – to ensure that funds are put where they belong, and routed to those who deserve them.
The ballpark is now set for the next four years of parliament I think… it will be a more vociferous fight about money, which is distasteful if not coupled with real demands for full governmental disclosure and transparency.
Let the games begin, I say. It should be fun.