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Minister, FNC members trade charges in House

By Muawia E. Ibrahim / 2 February 2005

ABU DHABI — The Federal National Council (FNC) yesterday exchanged accusations with government representative Saeed Al Ghaith, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs over proposals to upgrade performance at government departments. The members of the council have unanimously refused recommendations submitted by the government with regard to career development, upgradation of performance of employees, promotions etc.

The heated session, chaired by Saeed bin Mohammed Al Ghandi, Speaker of the House, ended up with most of the members walking out of the dome-shaped hall, as a mark of protest, while the minister was giving a presentation on the issue. The situation turned tense after members of the council expressed dissatisfaction over the government’s recommendations, amid a wave of objections that its answers to questions raised by council members were not satisfactory. The council members said the recommendations were not up to their aspirations. They also said the answers given by Mr Ghaith were not clear enough.

The minister said the questions themselves were not clear, trying to justify the ambiguity of his answers. He also said that the illustrated report sent by the government to answer the questions were not ‘cartoon characters’ and that they have to be patient till he finishes. This created more chaos in the session, causing most of the members to leave the hall. They grumbled that the government does not select council members from among children, in reaction to the ‘cartoon characters’ phrase used by the minister, while reacting to their accusations. But the minister carried on with his presentation via an electric screen.

While rejecting the members’ accusations, Mr Ghaith said the government and the council should work together in the same framework in the interest of the country.  He refuted accusations by members that ministries and government institutions were subject to favouritism and personal affairs. He also rejected the view that some officials consider government bodies and departments as their own companies, and therefore do not abide by the laws.

Mr Ghaith demanded the members to bring proof and not generalise their accusations. He, however, apologised at the end of the session, saying he did not mean to insult the members. “It was just a joke. A joke the Egyptian way,” he said.

The session discussed promotions and salary increases, in view of the constant increase in prices. The council’s message was that the promotion system had been frozen for a long time, and the salaries of employees remained the same, while prices were shooting up. The members demanded the government to reconsider the promotion system.
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