Green signal for national budget

BAHRAIN’S two-year national budget has been given the green signal by a key parliament committee.

The eight-member financial and economic affairs committee unanimously recommended approving the 2021-2022 national budget during an urgent meeting yesterday at the National Assembly Complex in Gudaibiya.

The meeting was chaired by Parliament Speaker Fouzia Zainal who also later chaired the general-secretariat office meeting during which it was agreed to include the budget for debate in the chamber’s next weekly session on Tuesday.

The general-secretariat is comprised of the Speaker, her two deputies, and chairmen of Parliament’s five permanent committees.

Financial and economic affairs committee chairman Mahmood Al Bahrani told the GDN only an outline was presented to Ms Zainal, while he was still working to verify the numbers.

“The whole economy is dependent on the budget and further delays mean a halt to spending and payments across all sectors,” said Mr Al Bahrani.

“The government’s budget will refresh everything in the country as it would breathe life into the private sector,” he added.

“Payments due to contractors on projects and schemes would be made, down payments to start work would also be dispensed, and this means less reliance on government financial support especially now during Covid-19, as costs and wages will get covered.

Guarantees

“The budget should have kick-started on January 1, but guarantees were necessary. Thankfully the government has made all and presented an amended version that protects people and makes the country strong despite setbacks all over the world.”

Under the revised budget, state revenues have jumped from BD2.285 billion to BD2.405bn this year and from BD2.339bn to BD2.457bn next year following an increase in the oil barrel base peg from $45 to $50.

Recurrent expenditure has also increased, from BD3.296bn to BD3.313bn this year and from BD3.220bn to BD3.269bn next year.

Spending on projects this year was BD265m before being changed to BD300m and BD265m next year before being changed to BD300m.

A special Covid-19 fund of BD50m that would help the government tackle any emergencies faced by the health department in the wake of new and more infectious variants has been added under this year’s spending.

The government will also spend BD497m on social welfare this year from the original BD478m, while spending will now be BD451m from BD402m next year.

Numbers

The committee’s meeting was exceptionally chaired by Ms Zainal, who asked for a breakdown of the numbers.

“This is the toughest budget to be ever negotiated with the government due to the unexceptional circumstances,” said Mr Al Bahrani.

“The effort that went into changes and getting more spending from the government has taken us around four months, but finally we will present MPs with something they can give a vote of confidence to,” he said.

“This is the best it can get.

“Social welfare has been increased by BD14m this year and BD43m next year and this all comes with a reduction in expected deficits by BD160m as the oil peg was increased.”

Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company is also set to pump in BD40m over two years.

The National Bureau for Revenue will contribute BD360m this year instead of BD340m and BD566m instead of BD543m next year.

Meanwhile, Shura Council financial and economic affairs committee chairman Khalid Al Maskati said following an urgent meeting a preliminary report has been presented to Shura chairman Ali Al Saleh to give the budget the go-ahead.

However, the committee would only officially review it after receiving it from Parliament.


Source: https://www.gdnonline.com/Details/937078/Green-signal-for-national-budget

 

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