Electricity authority, lawmaker clash over bills

January 6, 2011

Bahrain’s electricity and water officials and an outspoken lawmaker are set on a public collision course amid accusations levelled against the authority of abusing citizens’ rights by deducting money from their salaries to pay their bills.

MP Mahmoud Al Mahmoud has charged that the authority was exerting pressure on people to sign accords that allow it to take its dues from their accounts.

“I have been contacted by a citizen who claimed that the authority told him they would restore electricity to his home if he signed a document allowing them to take money directly from his account to pay for the monthly bill,” he said.

“No government agency in Bahrain, including the electricity and water authority, has the right to take money from people’s accounts,” said the independent lawmaker who was elected to parliament for the first time.

However, the electricity and water denied allegations of forcefully obliging people to sign payment-through-accounts schemes.

“This is totally illegal and goes against the spirit of the relationship between the citizens and the authority,” Ahmad Al Marshad, the acting head of public relations at the electricity and water authority said.

“We have discussed with some people options for them to pay the arrears. There was a suggestion of paying them in monthly installments that could be taken directly from their accounts. But there was never any pressure on anyone to accept this option,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

Several consumers have accepted the deal and signed documents to that effect, Al Marshad said.

“Claims that we are forcing people to sign papers or that we are withdrawing money from people’s accounts without their permission or knowledge are totally baseless,” he said.

The electricity and water authority has repeatedly complained about the high number of people falling behind in paying their bills.

Grace periods and the introduction of electronic payment options have not been highly successful in helping recover the millions of dinars due to the authority.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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