Bahrain MPs approve 2021-2022 national budget

Government funding for projects will total $1.59bln

A Central Bank of Bahrain official shows a new BD$20 (Bahraini 20 Dinars Note) on the first day of its release in Bahraini capital of Manama

A Central Bank of Bahrain official shows a new BD$20 (Bahraini 20 Dinars Note) on the first day of its release in Bahraini capital of Manama

REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

MPs yesterday approved the two-year state budget.

Thirty-five MPs out of a 40-strong full house voted in favour of the 2021-2022 national budget after more than six-and-a-half hours of debate.

Three MPs abstained, including first vice-chairman Abdulnabi Salman, and two MPs rejected it.

Finance and National Economy Minister Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa replied to all questions presented by MPs.

Government funding for projects will total BD600 million – up from BD530m originally presented by the government – while funding from the $10 billion GCC Development Fund will be BD782.4m. The total spending amounts to BD1.3824bn.

Around 27 per cent of the amount will be spent on housing projects, 20pc on roads and infrastructure, 15pc to improve electricity and water networks, 6pc on youth and sports projects, 5pc on education, health and social projects, 4pc on transportation infrastructure and 23pc on miscellaneous projects.

The total revenue in the 2021-2022 national budget amounts to BD4.863bn over two years – up from BD4.625bn originally presented by the government.

General spending is up from BD7.046bn to BD7.182bn. Recurrent expenditure is BD6.582bn over two years and projects spending is BD600m.

The total deficit is expected to be around BD2.319bn over both years, which will be covered through borrowing.

Municipal revenues are BD205m for this year and the next.

Money expected to be saved in the Future Generations Fund will hit BD41.2m this year and the next – with $1 taken from every exported barrel of oil.

The Finance and National Economy Ministry is authorised to spend BD63.8m on emergencies at the same time as informing the National Assembly about its transfer.

Social welfare spending has been unified at BD435.554m for each year from the original presented by the government at BD421.308m for 2021 and BD435.554m in 2022.

“Electricity and fuel subsidies are set to remain as they are,” said Shaikh Salman.

The budget has been referred urgently to the Shura Council, which will debate it during its weekly session on Sunday.

Shaikh Salman said protecting public money remains a top priority from everyone in the government.

“Any squandering of public money will be taken seriously – that’s a straightforward commitment we will not deviate from,” he said.

“We are going through tough circumstances but the public interest remains as our core principle.

“Social welfare spending has been restored to its original amount and under the same criteria and will not be touched unless a consensus is reached with legislators in both chambers.”

Parliament and Shura Council Affairs Minister Ghanim Al Buainain said work was ongoing to replace with Bahrainis more than 7,000 expatriates currently employed in civil service positions.

“This is part of a comprehensive restructuring plan,” he added.

Parliament financial and economic affairs committee chairman Mahmood Al Bahrani said the budget was necessary for the wheel of the economy to continue turning.

“It is the best possible in the current circumstances,” he said.

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