Saudi, UAE, Kuwait vow to help Bahrain

The three Gulf allies extended a $10 billion aid package to Bahrain in 2018 to help it avoid a credit crunch

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait reiterated their support for Bahrain’s plans to balance its budget, a move expected to help their neighbour in the debt capital markets despite delays in plans to fix its heavily indebted finances.

The three Gulf allies extended a $10 billion aid package to Bahrain in 2018 to help it avoid a credit crunch.

Last month, Bahrain said that due to the coronavirus crisis last year, it had postponed the target year for a balanced budget to 2024, and announced plans to hike a value-added tax to boost state coffers.

The fiscal balance programme — a set of reforms aimed at balancing the budget — was linked to the pledged $10 billion.

The ministers of finance of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait met Bahrain’s finance minister on Tuesday to discuss Bahrain’s progress in improving its finances.

“The ministers welcomed the efforts made by the government of Bahrain in implementing the Fiscal Balance Programme, and the progress made by the government despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic,” the three countries said in a joint statement.

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“The ministers affirmed their support to the Kingdom of Bahrain’s efforts in pursuing further reforms to enhance fiscal stability and strengthen sustainable economic growth,” the statement said.

Bahrain’s public debt climbed to 133 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) last year from 102 per cent in 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund.

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