Minister of Finance and National Economy, participates in panel alongside Finance Ministers at the Future Investment Initiative (FII)

Riyadh, The Minister of Finance and National Economy, HE Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, today participated alongside the Minister of Finance of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Excellency Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan, and the State of Kuwait’s Minister of Finance, His Excellency Dr. Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf, in a panel discussion at the Future Investment initiative (FII). The panel was entitled MENA is open for business: How the Middle East became an international investment powerhouse.

HE the Minister began by expressing his appreciation for the opportunity to take-part in this panel to discuss the economic outlook of the region.

Responding to the private sector’s role during regional and global economic slowdown, HE the Minister noted that the Kingdom of Bahrain is currently undertaking a long-term economic strategy aimed at driving non-oil growth as well as creating and sustaining a fertile business environment which is conducive to sustainable growth.

HE the Minister stressed that the government will continue to provide the conditions necessary for the private sector to flourish, noting that private investments have a greater multiplier effect on the economy. In this regard, HE said:

”When the government leads a project it is putting a dollar or a riyal or a dinar into the economy. When the government changes a process or creates a new legislative environment, it is allowing the private sector to embark on many projects, many riyals, many dinars, and therefore the multiplier effect is much larger when you do a reform of a sector”

HE the Minister reaffirmed that the private sector is critical to higher growth rates, outlining the impactful steps taken by the government towards simplifying the business setup process in Bahrain.

HE the Minister underlined that these diversification efforts continue to yield tangible results across all sectors, highlighting the following in particular:

Over 7% annual growth rate of the non-oil sector over the past 10 years

Today, oil represents only 20% of GDP

2/3 of Bahrainis are employed in the private sector

4% increase in the wages of Bahrainis working in the private sector compared to the same period last year

A fourfold increase in the size of the non-oil sector in the last 15 years.

HE the Minister stated that the biggest validation of the positive economic transformation occurring within the region can be seen in the 2019 World Bank ‘Doing Business’ Report, which has recognized 4 MENA states among top-10 improvers globally.

Turning to the Fiscal Balance Program, HE the Minister stated that the preliminary data during the first half of 2019 revealed that the deficit fell by 38%, non-oil revenues increased by 47%, and oil revenues increased by 10%, compared with the same period in 2018. HE added that this confirms that the government is on track to achieving all of the program’s objectives, including delivering a balanced budget by 2022.

HE the Minister recognised the importance of strengthening the process of fiscal planning in order to align non-oil government revenues alongside positive economic growth, adding that the government continues to place citizens at the heart of all developmental efforts by maintaining welfare expenditure while aligning public spending alongside growth.

Source: Bahrain News Agency