$3.4bln boost for 64 major projects in Bahrain

Details on the projects have been included in the draft national budget for 2021 and 2022

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. Night shot of the Central business district of Bahrain.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Night shot of the Central business district of Bahrain.

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Bahrain has unveiled plans to spend more than BD1.3 billion on 64 new major projects over the next two years.

Details on the projects have been included in the draft national budget for 2021 and 2022, a copy of which has been obtained by the GDN.

Almost three quarters of the projects planned will be financed with money from Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) support – BD782.39m in total – BD391.8m this year and BD390.59m in the following year.

The rest will be covered by Bahrain’s national revenues, at a rate of BD265m each year. That means Bahrain will spend BD656.80m on projects in 2021 and BD655.59m in 2020.

MUNICIPAL

An additional special budget of BD44m, divided equally over both years, would be used for municipal projects.

The complete draft budget was submitted by Finance and National Economy Minister Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa yesterday to the heads of Parliament and the Shura Council.

Meetings are due to continue with representatives of both chambers and a government delegation today.

Social housing accounts for the biggest chunk of project spending (27 per cent), followed by public works and roads (20pc), electricity and water networks (15pc), youth and sports facilities (6pc), and educational, health and social services (5pc) and transportation infrastructure (4pc),

The rest, 23pc, has been earmarked for miscellaneous projects.

The announcement follows a meeting with government officials led by the Finance and National Economy Minister on the new state budget.

Present were Parliament and Shura Council Affairs Minister Ghanim Al Buainain and Housing Minister Bassem Al Hamer.

Top row, from left, Mr Al Hamer, Mr Al Buainain, Shaikh Salman, Mr Al Maskati, Mr Al Bahrani. Second row, Mr Al Zayed, centre, with other legislators and senior government officials at the meeting

“The project line-up is impressively excellent and reflects the government’s drive towards growth and development,” said Shura Council financial and economic affairs committee chairman Khalid Al Maskati.

“The BD1.3b reflects commitment, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and slumping oil prices.

“The allocated funding for housing, which comprises the biggest spending on projects over the two years, has been increased by BD33m from previous budgets.

“Work has begun on the first phase of the new major Eastern Sitra Housing Town with completion by December next year.

“The main emphasis is now focused on the necessary new town infrastructure work so home building can commence.”

Finance allocated to government ministries for 2021 and 2020 reads:

Housing Ministry – BD400.6, split BD186.2m this year and BD214.4m next year

Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry - BD280.91, split BD133.61m this year and BD147.3m next year

Electricity and Water Authority - BD203.98m, split BD118.59m this year and BD85.39m next year

Housing projects include new homes at the Salman and East Hidd Towns at a cost of BD82.7m this year and the next, building infrastructure and apartments at Salman Town at a cost of BD58.3m, financing the Deerat Al Oyoun housing project in Diyar Al Muharraq at a cost of BD89m, and continuing Mazaya (social housing financing) at BD74m.

Educational projects include infrastructure work for the new King Abdullah Medical City at a cost of BD2m, construction and furnishing at Bahrain University at BD3.2m and at Bahrain Polytechnic for BD1.6, and introducing new technologies to government schools for BD7.06m.

Infrastructure projects include continuation of work on the new Muharraq Bridge at a cost of BD38.66m, expansions to Al Fateh Highway at BD20.57m, and developing the Airport Highway at BD13.1m.

The Tubli Wastewater Treatment Plant will also see an upgrade at BD43.2m.

Mr Al Maskati said Mr Al Hamer also expressed a commitment to continue the BD100 allowance for citizens on the housing waiting list, adding that 3,187 Bahraini families have already benefited from taking up the Mazaya scheme to move into their dream homes.

“We believe that with more housing financing schemes, in partnership with the private sector, there is a possibility to reduce reliance on government funding and we believe Mazaya has helped speed up people getting homes.”

Meanwhile, Parliament financial and economic affairs committee chairman Mahmood Al Bahrani said the GCC Development Programme has helped ensure the government’s progress continued undeterred despite the current circumstances.

“Housing tops development as it continues to be the main mover of all sectors,” he added.

“The GCC financing has helped ensure we continue in the same rhythm or else we would have faced the heat, as in other countries, with Covid-19 and slumping oil prices taking their toll.”

mohammed@gdn.com.bh

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