BAHRAIN’S national budget for 2021-2022 has been unanimously approved by the Shura Council.
It will now be referred by the National Assembly and Parliament Speaker Fouzia Zainal to His Majesty King Hamad for ratification.
During the chamber’s weekly session yesterday, Shura Council chairman Ali Saleh Al Saleh said unprecedented circumstances called for unprecedented measures, but the people’s benefits have remained untouched in the new budget.
“The country can now continue with its sustainable development projects and schemes, even in the face of difficult circumstances the world is going through,” he said.
Financial and economic affairs committee chairman Khalid Al Maskati said collaboration between the government and the legislative authority resulted in a faster approval of the budget.
“This follows the government’s commitment to continue with the Fiscal Balancing Programme, unaffected by the current circumstances,” he said.
“The budget will stimulate recovery and provide job opportunities for Bahrainis in all sectors.”
He said the budget reflected three goals: Efficient spending and reduction in operational costs, maintaining social welfare, and the undisrupted continuation of government services.
However, he said, the government needed to come up with a medium-term strategy to control the growing public debt and using any surplus in the budget to repay interest on loans taken.
“Efforts should be made to reduce and secure public debt to safe levels, to ensure general financial stability in the long run.”
He said new concepts had to be introduced to diversify the economy to accelerate recovery plans and open up new job opportunities.
“New policies to redirect social welfare support to those in most need must be worked out by adopting a comprehensive approach.”
Finance and National Economy Minister Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said agreements have ensured that the interests of the nation and the people are protected despite the difficult times faced by Bahrain and the world with Covid-19 and slumping oil prices.
“The budget has been formulated keeping mind the current difficult circumstances, while protecting the nation and people who are our biggest assets,” he said.
“Following the directives of His Majesty King Hamad, the government will continue with social welfare disbursement uninterrupted.
“All of the changes we made were requested by legislators.”
Shaikh Salman said the Fiscal Balancing Programme will continue with set goals.
“We constantly review the goals according to international circumstances and are working on non-oil revenues,” he added.
“Renewable energy is something we will work on as part of a national plan.
“Metro Bahrain, industrial and housing projects are underway in partnership with the private sector.”
The minister said that priority for employment in civil services will be given to Bahrainis, while 25,000 private sector jobs will be found for the nationals with the help of additional budgets.
“We continue with strong plans to get Bahrainis jobs as the country continues to progress,” he said.
Meanwhile, a scheduled debate on the new Maritime Law was postponed.