Muscat: Sixteen members of Oman’s elected consultative council, the Majlis Al Shura, signed a petition to grill the Minister of Higher Education over administrative and financial irregularities in the ministry.

The Majlis Al Shura has referred the request to the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, which is the country’s cabinet.

Article 58 of the Basic Law stipulates that upon a request signed by at least fifteen members of the council, any of the “services’ ministers” may be subject to interrogation on matters related to them exceeding their competences in violation of the law. The Majlis shall discuss the same and submit its findings in this regard to the Sultan.

Services’ ministries are those that do not fall under the “sovereign” ministries category such as defence and foreign affairs.

Sources at the Majlis Al Shura told Gulf News that several news reports were published in local newspapers about the occurrence of administrative and financial irregularities in the Ministry of Higher Education. Audit control authorities reported financial losses exceeding to one milion rials due to the negligence and poor planning by the ministry, mostly in scholarships. Hilal Al Mawali, chairman of Majlis AlShura said recently that questioning minsters has its own mechanism, mostly to ensure that the Minster does not misuse his or her power. Majlis AlShura uses reports from the State Financial and Administrative Audit Institution to questioning minsters on auditing matters.

This is not the first time that the council acknowledges the request questioning of ministers in the government. Majlis Al Shura approved the request of 43 members to question the minister of oil and gas in 2012.

The request to question the oil minister two years ago, as determined by the members of the council because of what they described as neglect and failure to take the necessary precautions to manage the crisis experienced by the Sultanate due to strike some of the workers in the oil fields.