Too Centralized?

One of the courses I’m taking this summer is Pharmacy Law. The current law was issued few years ago to replace the first law that regulated the profession of pharmacy in Saudi Arabia which has been used since the 1960’s. There is no such thing as a perfect law, and this one is no exception. My professor has repeatedly criticized it throughout the classes, pointing out many of its loopholes and shortcomings.

While many of the law’s problems lie in the details, one major flaw stands out because it is not limited to the pharmacy law but rather universal and is directly related to how our government is functioning.

Many (all?) laws regulating different professions in the country are issued by a single authority that is the Council of Ministers, chaired by the King. Saudi Arabia is a huge country, and this centralized approach of governing is overwhelming to the Council of Ministers which has to approve every little detail in a very wide variety of laws and regulations. Even a tiny change in one article of a preexistent law takes years to be approved and implemented. Keep in mind that we don’t even have a parliament which could stop the government from doing whatever they want to do. Yet, the process remains slow, and this slowness is bad for people and bad for business.

The government should consider moving some from their responsibilities to other entities such as civil society organizations and independent government bodies. Unfortunately, we severely lack such institutions in our country.

Saudi Arabia has recently passed a new law for regulation of civil society organizations. The new law has received a lukewarm response, but hopes remain high that it would propel the creation of new organizations and bodies. However, the concept of civil society is closely connected to democratic systems. Considering the current political situation in the country, it is debatable if civil society can flourish here and lead to significant changes.

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7 thoughts on “Too Centralized?

  1. So you see that overall, new laws are worse then the old ones, or better?
    Adopting laws is one thing, but the fail always lies with the fact that culture isn’t taken into account.
    The crime penalty removed was one of the worst changes that the country has made, you can read about it at my blog.

  2. “it is debatable if civil society can flourish here and lead to significant changes.”

    I hope that one day a civil society comes into existence… our people mix between buying power and having big shopping malls with modernization and being civil.

    What happened since oil came into the equation is similar to what happens when chickens are injected with steroids, they grow fast on the outside, but internally the organs never catch up… and, here is the thing… if you clap your hands in the hen house… they get a heart attack and die.

  3. you has put your hand on the problem and found a solution superbly ahmad

    when I study this course , I found many of the blanks in pharmacy law that need to be filled by a big team work like big organization

    but let me tell u something

    Change is not a desirable word here

    Whether the change in a positive or negative

  4. princejimi- then I guess we are in for a whole contingent of funerals- because the wedding and birth rates are going to plummet.

    We aill not be able to marry ideas of change with existing (good or …) ones nor give birth to radically new solutions tailored to our particular environments…

    There goes the neighborhood…

  5. You know, I have always tried to debate with people I meet about de-centralizing the Saudi System.. especially for a place like Education system. For example… if the Education Ministry was only a supervising role to established standards of education and developing them.. instead of its all hands on approach.. and they left Each region of SA to operate their own Schools.. I would have the chance to actually study Math, Biology and chemistry like my peers in my school that lacked 17 teachers that year, while it’s Headmaster waited like a hen for those replacement teachers to come.

    if we lost central operation of Government we will ease a lot of pressure and things can move about easily… Sure the Government can be central in establishing it’s policies.. but for example, to wait for a job with Ministry of Health for 14 months is just career murder..

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