• Finance minister calls for collaboration
  • Manama expected to cut subsidies and salaries in new budget

Bahrain offers great opportunities for local, regional and international players as a number of strategic projects go ahead, said Finance Minister Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Khalifa.

Speaking at MEED’s Bahrain Infrastructure and Finance conference in Manama on 28 April, the minister said this is a pivotal time for Bahrain’s development. He highlighted healthcare, housing and transport as the country’s focus moving forward.

On the same day, the ministry outlined the draft budget to MPs and Shura Council members during a closed-door meeting.

It is expected to be presented to the cabinet on 4 May and referred to the National Assembly by the end of next week for approval.

It is understood that the budget has been drawn up based on an anticipated oil price of $60 a barrel.

The two-year budget has been pending for the past four months, with lower oil prices having a direct impact on national revenues.

Total spending has not yet been revealed, but it is expected the new budget will feature a reduction in subsidies and government salaries in an attempt to reduce spending.

In February, US ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) revised its ratings for Gulf states in light of the sharp fall in oil prices, downgrading both Bahrain and Oman. Bahrain’s rating has been changed to BBB-/A-3 with a negative outlook.

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