Cablegate: Public Works and Housing Minister: Plate Is Full

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


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Projects Increase as Corruption Concerns Decline
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1. Ambassador met with Minister of Housing and Public Works
Fahmi Bin Ali Al Jowder on September 8 to discuss new and
ongoing projects, the Ministry,s experience with U.S.
business partners and potential opportunities for U.S.
business as a result of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
While officially now one Ministry -- Housing and Public Works
-- the Minister manages two bureaucracies in two buildings.
They are responsible for managing projects that account for
some sixty to seventy percent of the GOB,s project budget.

2. Al Jowder said that the last three years had been
extremely busy, reflecting both a revitalized economy after a
1991-1999 recession and the GOB,s desire to invest in
infrastructure. His portfolio had also expanded in the last
year when he took on the Housing Ministry, widely known for
corruption. Al Jowder admitted that he had been tasked with
cleaning up the Ministry and that he had already pursued the
prosecution of several staff members who had misappropriated
land. He also mentioned that the GOB was working on the
creation of a Bahraini version of the U.S. General Accounting
Office in order to improve transparency.

Opportunities for U.S. Business

3. The Ambassador asked about the Ministry,s experience in
working with U.S. business. Al Jowder praised the work Great
Lakes Dredging was doing in the new port, pointing out they
completed their work four months early. He indicated the
Ministry would like to see the company do more in Bahrain.
On the FTA, the Ambassador said that the next year would be
an opportunity to put Bahrain "on the map" and that he
expects to receive more requests from American construction
firms for advocacy services. The Ambassador also referred to
the new tender law (reftel), indicating that U.S. firms would
benefit from a more transparent process.

King Wants Army Corps of Engineers in Bahrain

4. Al Jowder also mentioned the King,s interest in seeing
the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) come to Bahrain to provide
advisory services on a variety of projects including highway
planning. The King had been impressed by previous work by
ACE at the Royal Court. However plans were dropped when the
payment mechanism requested by ACE clashed with Bahrain,s
tender process. The Ambassador indicated the Embassy would
follow up to see what could be done. (Note: Embassy
Manama,s Office of Military Cooperation (OMC) confirms that
the proposed technical assistance to have been provided by
ACE can only be funded as a Foreign Military Sales (FMS)
case. The Minister had some concerns with the funding
mechanism, which OMC believed had been resolved through a
series of meetings between the Minister and Embassy officials
in June 2003. However, the Embassy never received final
approval from the Ministry and the FMS case (valued at USD 4
million) expired in August 2003. Embassy will again review
the case with the Minister in an effort to find the necessary
common ground to provide ACE assistance. End Note)

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