MANAMA: Bahrain’s budget deficit has been slashed by a massive 24 per cent, it was announced yesterday.
The Finance and National Economy Ministry issued preliminary results for 2019.
The deficit has fallen from 6.3 per cent of GDP in 2018 to 4.7pc in 2019. Non-oil revenues increased 63pc year-on-year, whilst government spending decreased 3pc year-on-year. The kingdom’s primary budget deficit (excluding interest payments) fell 85pc year-on-year, said the Bahrain News Agency quoting from the report.
The fiscal improvements follow the implementation of a number of reform measures taken by the government as part of the Fiscal Balance Programme, initiated in October 2018. The programme aims to deliver a balanced budget by 2022.
Reforms implemented include a government-wide spending review and dedicated spending efficiency taskforces, new spending controls, a voluntary retirement scheme for public sector workers and the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT).
The ministry also announced positive GDP growth figures. According to the estimates, economic growth reached 2.1pc in 2019, largely driven by a 2.3pc increase in non-oil growth. The kingdom forecasts strong growth to continue into this year, with GDP expected to expand 2.7pc in 2020.
Shaikh Salman said: “From the outset we have sought to implement an ambitious but balanced fiscal reform package in Bahrain, with consolidation not being achieved at the expense of economic growth. Today’s figures are testament to this approach. The government is 100pc committed to its path of fiscal reform and sustainability, and to delivering a balanced budget by 2022.”
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