New steps to cut government spending on way

A SERIES of new austerity measures to cut government spending amid the Covid-19 outbreak will soon be introduced.

Parliament and Shura Council Affairs Minister Ghanim Al Buainain told MPs yesterday that the government is working on reducing its spending to offset the financial impacts associated with the pandemic.

He said during Parliament’s weekly session, which was held remotely for the first time ever, that any project or scheme that was deemed unnecessary in these unprecedented times or could be postponed would be dropped from the national budget.

He also maintained that there are 40,000 civil servants, who the government was committed to accommodating within its financial and administrative arrangements.

“We are planning to introduce in the coming days stringent measures to further reduce costs in the government,” Mr Al Buainain.

“The current circumstances require that we limit spending to the important projects and restrict spending as low as possible.

“We have to drop anything that is unnecessary or could be postponed to later times.”

The comments were made as MPs debated an amendment to oblige civil servants to undergo 30 compulsory hours of training in a year.

The majority of MPs voted to insist on their previous decision to make this compulsory under the 2010 Civil Service Law, despite warnings from Mr Al Buainain and the Civil Service Bureau.

Parliament first approved the move in April last year despite a call for a rethink from the government, which said such a decision should be left to the government authority concerned to determine the type of training programmes and necessary hours.

If the Shura Council maintains its vote to disregard the amendment then the topic will be scheduled for a joint National Assembly session, which has not happened since 2002.

“The training obligation is not a priority now as we consider other financial solutions and this would exert pressure on the government,” said Mr Al Buainain, who is politically in charge of the CSB.

“Training is subjective to available funding and is done on case by case assessment in line with different levels.”

He was backed by MP Ali Ishaqi, who said that 1.2 million training hours a year was difficult to accommodate not just this year but also in the future.

However, some MPs demanded that the annual spending on expat employees in the government be redirected to training Bahrainis.


Parliament’s legislative and legal affairs committee chairman Mohammed Al Abbasi claimed the annual cost of hiring expats in the public sector was around BD60 million.

Meanwhile, Bahrainis who live in social housing units could be able to sell or transfer the property after completing paying instalments, some of which can last up to 25 years.

Under the government-drafted amendment to the 1976 Housing Law, which was approved unanimously by MPs yesterday, Bahrainis will not have to wait for seven years before being allowed to sell or transfer the deeds of their homes.

Housing Minister Bassem Al Hamer told MPs through live video that the move aims to ensure equality with others who are given financial support to purchase homes.




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