More free trade zones in Bahrain suggested

INCREASING free trade zones in Bahrain, along with developing legislation to expedite the settlement of legal cases, were among key recommendations reached yesterday during a high-profile conference.

Promoting the establishment of projects that enhance the tourism sector in Bahrain were also among the recommendations highlighted at the Economic Recovery Forum which was organised by the Shura Council in collaboration with the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance at its headquarters in Bahrain Bay and supported by the National Bank of Bahrain.

Details were revealed by Shura Council’s financial and economic affairs committee chairman Khaled Al Maskati who also highlighted the importance of a review of the national plans for education and training in line with labour market requirements.

“Concerted legislative and executive efforts are critical to enhance stability and job security for citizens in the private sector,” he said at the conclusion of the forum.

“That is in addition to stimulating part-time and remote working policies in various sectors.

“Recommendations also included updating and developing the necessary legislation to expedite the settlement of cases and achieve prompt justice, as well as working on preparing mediators and arbitrators to expand their skills.”

According to Mr Al Maskati, recommendations also proposed developing supply chains and their sustainability to meet the requirements of food, commodity and health sector security while also enhancing the attraction of international companies working in the digital economy and information technology fields.

He added that establishing a strong infrastructure for the telecommunications and transportation sectors is critical for sustainability.

“Working on creating free-trade zones – similar to the American Free Trade Zone – is important to enhance investment and commercial sustainability,” added Mr Al Maskati.

“It is essential to keep pace with global technological developments while also improving the electronic system for the settlement of financial transactions and enhancing the trend towards electronic banks and the ‘digital dinar’.

“Strengthening national cadres in the banking and insurance sectors is also a critical step towards economic recovery, in line with creating qualitative and promising job opportunities.”


He also suggested including the economic recovery plan, as part of the programmes being prepared for the upcoming elections, for its adoption by new members.

Finally, Mr Al Maskati added that allocating a direct percentage of oil revenues to reduce the national debt would be the final recommendation towards continued advancement of the national economy.

Meanwhile, Mr Al Maskati also moderated the forum’s final session on achieving financial and economic stability initiatives which featured Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) Governor Rasheed Al Maraj, National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) chairman Farouk Almoayyed and Finance and National Economy Under-Secretary Amna Al Romaihi.

“The Fiscal Balance Programme was launched in 2018 with an expected achievement time frame of 2022 but the pandemic struck and we had to take extraordinary measures and extended the target date to 2024,” said Ms Al Romaihi yesterday.

“We had to take measures to absorb the shock in the economy caused by repercussions of the pandemic and we went into high alert immediately and launched an emergency budget.

“We have reduced government operational costs by about 30 per cent and, in line with proactive solutions taken in the health sector, we have also taken pre-emptive measures to protect the economy.”




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