BAHRAIN is on the right path and the government is optimistic of maintaining financial stability and positive economic growth, top officials have said.

This came as the executive and legislative branches yesterday held their first joint meeting to discuss a draft law approving the state budget for the fiscal years 2023-2024.

The meeting was chaired by National Assembly and Parliament Speaker Ahmed Al Musallam, in the presence of Shura Council Chairman Ali Saleh Al Saleh, Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, Finance and National Economy Minister Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa and other senior officials at the National Assembly Complex, Gudaibiya.

The new budget aims to cut down deficit drastically from BD2.3 billion in 2021-22 to BD569.7 million in 2023-24. The total revenue is estimated to reach BD6.57bn, divided into BD3.1bn in 2023 and BD3.47bn in 2024.

“We are looking at maintaining financial stability and positive economic growth, creating promising opportunities for citizens, and developing economic support programmes to help eligible Bahrainis,” said Shaikh Khalid, as he handed over the budget to Parliament and the Shura Council. “There is also commitment to the Fiscal Balance Programme and continuing work to develop performance, quality and sustainability of government services.”

The Finance and National Economy Minister affirmed that citizens would remain the top priority as the country forges ahead with plans for diversification and growth.

“Optimism is the title of the next stage, despite the global challenges facing everyone, which we will be able to overcome together and by working
in a one-team spirit,” Shaikh Salman said.

He gave a presentation in which he explained the results of the Fiscal Balance Programme, the main axes for preparing the general budget and the basis for its estimation, and a summary of the key projects that will be implemented during the next budget cycle.

The new budget aims to reduce deficit to BD494m this year and BD76m in 2024. The deficit will be covered through borrowing.

The general expenditure is set to reach BD7.1bn over two years – BD3.6bn this year and BD3.5bn in 2024. Recurrent expenditure is projected to hit BD6.7bn – BD3.4bn this year and BD3.3bn in 2024. The government is set to spend BD446m on subsidies this year and BD448.5m the next.

The amount estimated for projects is BD450m, divided equally for both years. Around BD41m will be transferred to the Future Generations Fund over two years, taking $1 from each exported oil barrel.

Municipal revenues are expected to hit BD215m – BD105m for this year and BD110m the next. Municipal spending is projected to reach BD87.3m this year and BD91m in 2024.

The Finance and National Economy Minister is authorised, under the draft budget law, to circulate BD161m amongst ministries and government bodies depending on their need.

Shaikh Khalid affirmed that the draft budget will have positive effects on the development march led by His Majesty King Hamad and followed up by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad
Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister.

“The new budget cycle comes in light of the national economy’s ability to achieve unprecedented positive results that are the highest in the history of Bahrain, in terms of the non-oil sector’s superiority in contributing effectively to the economy,” he said.

“Gross Domestic Product at constant prices increased by 83.1pc, which reflects the efforts to expand the scope of public-private partnership to develop non-oil sectors.”

He pointed out that the draft budget was in compliance with what was agreed upon in the four-year Government Action Plan.

Mr Al Musallam said negotiations to exchange views and ideas will ensure better and decent life for citizens.

“We will work to reduce the economic burden on citizens and subject all programmes to further development to meet people’s basic needs and provide them with a decent life,” he said.

Mr Al Saleh stressed the need for optimal investment of financial resources.

“We will work to implement the initiatives and projects included within the government’s futuristic programmes, economic recovery plans and the Fiscal Balance Programme,” he said.

Meanwhile, Shura Council financial and economic affairs committee chairman Khalid Al Maskati said the budget was the platform for public welfare.

“We want to help people and there is consensus on multiple ideas,” he said. “Annual increases to pensions is something that we are keen to push forward.”


Source: https://www.gdnonline.com/Details/1228335/VOICES-OF-OPTIMISM


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