Economic recovery plan wins vote of confidence

THE government’s ambitious five-pillar plan to boost the economy, generate jobs and achieve fiscal stability has received a vote of confidence from MPs.

However, some Parliament members cast doubts on the plan, pointing out that it is “poisonous” to double value-added tax (VAT) from five per cent to 10pc.

An urgent proposal to issue a statement backing the plan was presented by 10 MPs led by Parliament Speaker Fouzia Zainal.

Of the 32 MPs present during the weekly session of the lower chamber, 18 MPs backed the proposal, 12 rejected it while two others abstained from voting on it.

“The statement offers general backing to the government’s plan and doesn’t imply we agree to everything,” clarified Ms Zainal.

“Each and every move will have to be passed by legislators and the ministers concerned will present them to individual committees for review in due course.

“It will be a joint call throughout.”

She was cut short by her first deputy Abdulnabi Salman who expressed concern that the statement could be the necessary blind support the government required.

“Poison is being served along with honey incorporating things that no one agrees with such as doubling VAT being part of the package.

“How can we back something that it is just headlines without knowing the exact details?

“I believe that it is a blind call that would invite public wrath.”

Mr Salman was backed by other MPs who shared his sentiments.

“It means that the government will pass everything it wants whether we like it or not,” said Ebrahim Al Nefaei.

“What say would we have if the government receives general backing?

“All it wants is us approving the 10pc VAT, something that the public will target us over.

“This statement is a wrong approach and doesn’t let us have a say.”

Ms Zainal later issued a statement following the session.

The key targets of the plan include more than $30 billion of investments in strategic projects, 20,000 new jobs for Bahrainis annually until 2024, an annual programme to train 10,000 Bahrainis per year and a bid to attract $2.5bn of foreign direct investment (FDI) by 2023.

The five pillars feature a new labour market reform plan, a regulatory reform package aiming to support foreign investments, a strategic projects plan and creating new industrial investment areas across Bahrain, a priority sectors plan with strategies for oil and gas, tourism and logistics, financial services, telecommunications, IT and digital economy and manufacturing, alongside a fiscal balance programme update with eight new work-streams seeking to balance Bahrain’s budget by 2024, compared with the pre-pandemic target of 2022.

Meanwhile, MPs voted unanimously to issue statements on Bahrain Doctor’s Day, which is being celebrated today; they condemned insults by the Lebanese Information Minister against Saudi Arabia and the UAE and discrimination against Muslims in India.




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