Parliamentary support to government's efforts to achieve national economic recovery after pandemic stressed

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Manama, Sept. 26 (BNA): The legislative and executive branches held today a joint meeting chaired by Speaker of the Representatives Council Fawzia bint Abdullah Zainal, in the presence of Shura Council Chairman Ali bin Saleh Al Saleh, Finance Minister Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of Labour and Social Development Jamil bin Mohammed Ali Humaidan, Minister of Parliament Affairs Ghanim bin Fadhel Al Buainin, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani, Shura Council First Deputy Chairman Jamal Fakhro, Second Deputy Chairman Jamila Salman, Representatives Council First Deputy Speaker Abdulnabi Salman Ahmed, Second Deputy Speaker Ali Zayed and Heads and members of the Shura and Representatives Councils’ Financial and Economic Committees.


The meeting reviewed plans and initiatives related to financial and economic recovery after the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The government team stressed that the Kingdom of Bahrain, in line with the directives of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, has prioritized citizens’ health in all stages of dealing with the pandemic which faced the whole world. They said the efforts were focused first on protecting the health of citizens and residents, combat the virus and preserve national achievements. Then, they added, the kingdom took steps to support the national economy and the private sector, maintain economic growth, create quality opportunities for citizens, protect jobs and ensure stability of the labour market.


The government team pointed out the launch of the financial and economic package to maintain continuity of the State’s programmes to achieve sustainable development and weather the economic impact of the pandemic on the private sector. They also pointed out the initiatives taken to support citizens and alleviate the repercussions of the pandemic on them, in line with the directives of HM the King and under the follow-up of the government led by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister.  


The government team clarified that the results achieved until February 2020 of the Fiscal Balance Programme to achieve a balance between the government expenditures and revenues exceeded the interim goals set. They said due to the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic on the world and the economic situation, in general, those results did not continue, which is what prompts at the current stage to adopt initiatives to protect the society through economic recovery, enhancing financial stability and putting the fiscal balance programme on track to achieve its goals.  They noted, to avoid any direct impact on citizens, the goal of the fiscal balance programme will be modified to 2024.


The government team reviewed several options to deal with the requirements of the next stage in order to maintain social support for eligible citizens, while adjusting the rate of the value-added tax (VAT). They noted that the best option is always that with the minimum effect on citizens, especially those with limited income. They stressed keenness to maintain the exclusion of 49 basic food commodities from VAT, in addition to basic services and 1400 government services.


For her part, the Representatives Council Speaker praised constructive cooperation between the government and the legislative branch to serve citizens. She hailed keenness of the government to inform the legislative branch about future plans and projects and their impact on the community. She stressed that the meeting reflects keenness of the legislative and executive branches to maintain continuous coordination and cooperation to ensure success of plans and initiatives aimed at achieving the goals of the Economic Vision 2030.


The Representatives Council Speaker commended Bahrain's outstanding performance during 2021 in a number of economic indicators. She said the results were parallel to the levels recorded a year before the pandemic, especially in the real estate sector, the sales levels, the rise in the value of international exports of national origin, and progress in the National Employment Programme, the tourism sector and others. She affirmed that the pioneering measures taken by the kingdom to handle the repercussions of the global spread of Covid-19, protect the health and safety of citizens and residents and maintain sustainable development have turned Bahrain into a distinguished model in the world.


The Representatives Council Speaker voiced keenness of the Representatives Council to assume its legislative and monitoring role to serve the nation and citizens under the comprehensive development march led by HM the King.


For his part, the Shura Council Chairman stressed the positive economic indicators of the Kingdom of Bahrain over the past eight months of 2021. He said the results, parallel to the levels recorded in 2019, before the global spread of the coronavirus pandemic, affirm the Kingdom’s financial stability and excellence in implementing policies to achieve sustainability of the national economy. He commended the professional performance and tremendous efforts of the government, led by HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, to work out programmes to support the national economy and back different sectors. He asserted the Shura Council’s continuous support to the ambitious plans of the government through passing more legislation and laws to boost the financial and economic performance and attract more investments and capitals.


The Shura Council Chairman hailed continuous cooperation and coordination between the legislative and executive branches to achieve citizens’ aspirations.


For his part, the Minister of Finance and National Economy pointed out the government’s adherence to the principles adopted in achieving the goals of the fiscal balance programme. He pointed out the steps taken by the government in this regard like rationalizing and boosting the competence of expenditure, reducing the operational ones, maintaining social support for eligible citizens, ensuring continuous provision of good quality services for citizens and continuing the fiscal balance programme according to its goals through achieving economic recovery during the next phase.


The Minister of Finance and National Economy stressed that priority in the next phase will be given to the importance of the national economic recovery through implementation of initiatives that are consistent with the current requirements to bring the growth rates back to their aspired levels. He praised the one-team spirit in facing challenges, stressing keenness on putting the supreme national interest above any other consideration.


At the end of the meeting, the government team affirmed the importance of active partnership between the executive and legislative branches, pointing out the positive results of cooperation in achieving citizens’ aspirations and the goals of the comprehensive development march spearheaded by HM the King.


The Deputy Chairpersons of the Shura and Representatives Councils and the Heads of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committees expressed thanks to the government for its continuous cooperation with the legislative branch and keenness to preserve national achievements. They reiterated pledge to continue joint work between the two branches to achieve the desired goals.