Bahrain’s government agencies invite the public to contact them online

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… so we did,
and waited for a reply…and waited…and waited

Gulf Insider was inspired by an article published by a Saudi newspaper known as ‘Makkah’, who tried to find out who is the most ‘silent’ out of all the government spokespeople. By conducting a survey, this Saudi newspaper tested the responsiveness of different government departments by sending questions to the official email addresses of each spokesperson, unless asked to use a different means of communication. Those who failed to reply were named and shamed, including publishing the photos of the government spokesmen whose responsibility it was to handle enquiries.

We decided to conduct a similar test on different Ministries and Government Entities in Bahrain. However, we have not named and shamed any individual government spokesmen unlike the mentioned survey.

The Method

Out of the total number of Bahrain’s Ministries and Government Entities, we sent one question each to 18 ministries. Questions were sent through the official email addresses provided on the eGovernment website. All of the said inquiries were sent to the ministries on the same day.

The questions sent were constructed in English and consisted of queries a citizen or resident of Bahrain might ask–the entire data gathering and analysis were done in a span of 3 weeks.

Responsive Ministries/Government Entities - THE BEST

Labour Fund (Tamkeen)

1 hour and 27 minutes –
THEY ANSWERED OUR QUESTION

Q: Can a non-Bahraini apply for “Accounting & Auditing” support for a startup business?
A: Kindly note that any Bahraini CR can benefit from Tamkeen’s enterprise program.

Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications

2 hours and 31 minutes –
THEY PASSED US TO ANOTHER DEPARTMENT

Q: Does the ministry have any highway cameras available for viewing on the internet?
A: Thank you for contacting the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications. The Ministry is not the responsible entity for surveillance/speeding cameras on the roads. You may contact the Ministry of Interior for further assistance.

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Labour Market Regulatory Authority

8 hours and 26 minutes –
THEY ANSWERED OUR QUESTION

Q: How long does it take to transfer a Work Visa to a Dependant’s (housewife) Visa?
A: LMRA’s total processing time is between 1 and 10 business days (providing that all the submitted information and document was correct and clear and that the requirements were fulfilled at the time of submission.)

Auto-reply stating “recipient’s mailbox is full and can’t accept messages now”.

Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs (inbox is full)

Q: Who requires a Visa to enter Bahrain and who is eligible for a Bahraini citizenship?
A: “recipient’s mailbox is full and can’t accept
messages now”.

Ministry of Labour and Social Development (inbox is full)

Q: How is overtime calculated? Is it upon the basic salary or gross salary?
A: “recipient’s mailbox is full and can’t accept messages now”.

Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (inbox is full)

Q: How does the consumer know whether the supplier has registered their equipment with TRA?
A: “recipient’s mailbox is full and can’t accept messages now”.

Unresponsive Ministries/Government Entities  … AND THE REST -  NONE OF THE BELOW REPLIED

Ministry of Education – NO REPLY

How does a student apply for a School Leaving Certificate?

Ministry of Energy – NO REPLY

What are the e-services provided by the Ministry of Energy?

Electricity & Water Authority – NO REPLY

Does EWA have any guidelines relating to the installation of solar panels and other equipment?

Ministry of Foreign AffairsNO REPLY

What documents do I need when traveling with a pet?

Ministry of HealthNO REPLY

What financial saving schemes do you offer to help cover hospital bills?

Ministry of Industry, Commerce and TourismNO REPLY

How much is the starting price for a new Commercial Registration and how can a company best prepare for the imposition of VAT in 2018?

General Directorate of TrafficNO REPLY

What safety measures do new drivers need to follow after acquiring their license?

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Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and AwqafNO REPLY

What is the procedure for non-Muslims to follow the faith, and what are the steps for that?

Ministry of Youth and Sports AffairsNO REPLY

What is the procedure to apply for grant funding?

Bahrain Authority for Culture and AntiquityNO REPLY

What is the role of the Authority in the youth and community development?

Bahrain Internet ExchangeNO REPLY

For technical problems, who will arrange the cable management?

Supreme Council for WomenNO REPLY

How does the Supreme Council for Women empower Bahraini women and assist their needs?

Out of 18 Ministries and Government entities, only three answered our queries:

  1. Labour Fund (Tamkeen)
  2. Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications
  3. Labour Market Regulatory Authority – though only 2 departments actually answered our question.

This meant that not even a quarter (16.66%) of the 18 ministries replied.

The Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs as well as the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority had an automated reply stating that the “recipient’s mailbox is full and can’t accept messages now”, and the remaining 12 Ministries and Government entities did not respond to our emails at all.

Similarly, the results of the survey conducted by Makkah newspaper found that only a minority of those charged with speaking to the press responded. Out of the 18 assessed, only 4 spokespeople (22.22%) replied within the first three days, while the other 14 did not respond within five working days. In comparison with the results of our survey, the Saudi spokespeople did 5.55% better at responding to its citizens.

 

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