Manama, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, today gave a wide-ranging presentation on Bahrain’s progress and plans for the future at the Bahrain Government Forum 2019.
Speaking at the forum, HRH the Crown Prince stressed the importance of advancing government service delivery by enhancing competition and embracing innovation in order to accelerate development, in line with the vision of His Majesty the King.
HRH the Crown Prince noted that development projects that serve citizens, residents, investors and tourists are foundations for economic success, and key to unlocking the ambitions of the Kingdom and its people.
HRH extended his appreciation to His Royal Highness the Prime Minister, Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, for patronising the Government Forum 2019.
During the forum, HRH highlighted Bahrain’s most important achievements, the progress of strategic projects, and the results of key economic indicators. HRH also issued directives to launch wide-ranging development projects designed to increase their contribution to the Kingdom’s economic growth.
HRH the Crown Prince commemorated the 100th year anniversary of Bahrain’s police by thanking them for their tireless service in safeguarding the Kingdom’s security, noting that stability is the cornerstone of development and prosperity. HRH also extended his thanks to the Bahrain Defense Force and the Ministry of Interior for their selfless service.
HRH the Crown Prince also expressed thanks and appreciation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the State of Kuwait for their continuous support to the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Speaking about the Fiscal Balance Program, which aims to achieve a fiscal balance by 2022, HRH the Crown Prince noted that the initial results were positive. During the first half of 2019, the deficit fell by 38%, non-oil revenues increased by 47%, oil revenues increased by 10%, and expenditure reduced by 14% compared with the same period in 2018. HRH noted, most importantly, a 50% non-oil growth rate between 2008 and 2018.
HRH the Crown Prince highlighted the progress of the National Employment Program, a program designed to make citizens the first choice of employment, noting that since its launch 3,082 companies from the private sector have contributed to its success. The program has employed a total of 5,918 Bahrainis, and helped Bahrainis working in the private sector increase their income by 4.3%.
HRH went on to outline key socioeconomic reforms that are underway, including a government housing program, which has completed the delivery of 25,000 housing units. HRH the Crown Prince extended his thanks to the Ministry of Housing for enhancing citizens’ confidence in the government’s ability to introduce housing developments, such as Khalifa Town, Salman Town, and East Hidd. On this HRH the Crown Prince issued directives to expedite the completion of the infrastructure services for these new towns.
HRH the Crown Prince affirmed that the Ministry of Housing has allocated a total of 6,000 new units this year, and directed the allocation of an additional 3,000 housing units in East Sitra, as well as inviting the private sector to increase their contribution to the Kingdom’s housing delivery process.
HRH also spoke of the Kingdom’s achievements in the health sector, which include the ratification of a new health insurance law, the appointment of a board of directors for the heath insurance fund, and the launch of the National Ambulance System, which has already reduced ambulance response times at 8 locations, and once completed will do so across 13 locations.
HRH the Crown Prince announced the launch of the National Genome Project that aims to introduce a genetic testing unit at Salmaniya Medical Complex. The testing unit is set to collect 50,000 samples in the upcoming five years to establish a database that together with the use of data science and technology will improve the quality of health services.
HRH the Crown Prince then provided an update on the Kingdom’s key infrastructure projects that aim to support government service delivery and create quality opportunities for citizens. HRH the Crown Prince added that the expansion project of Bahrain International Airport is set to open in the first quarter of 2020. HRH the Crown Prince added that temporary operations are to be extended to ensure safety and to make sure all services operate at the required level.
Later, HRH the Crown Prince highlighted the progress of the Bapco Modernization Program in addition to the progress of the development of Al Khaleej Al Bahrain Basin, in preparation for oil extraction.
The Crown Prince announced the near opening of the Line 6 Expansion Project that will make Alba the world’s largest aluminium smelter and further enhance Bahrain’s competitiveness.
HRH the Crown Prince outlined key development projects supported by the GCC Development Fund and the injection of an additional USD 5 billion over the coming period, which include:
Housing units in East Hidd, Khalifa Town, Salman Town and Reclamations of East Sitra
A number of main roads
The development of major water and electricity stations
Expanding public transportation
The introduction of 6 new schools
Turning to the business environment, HRH the Crown Prince highlighted the Kingdom’s efforts in streamlining the business registration process, which included the launch of Sijilat 2.0 that has issued commercial registrations in a record time of 93 seconds, and the launch of Benayat, a streamlined process for issuing building permits within five days. HRH the Crown Prince added that today, as a result of this enhancement, it now takes 2.7 days on average to issue building permits.
HRH the Crown Prince directed the development of urban planning procedures in one year, and further directed the development of notarisation services to include real estate.
HRH the Crown Prince stressed the importance of facing unprecedented challenges as they arise by evaluating and addressing them. HRH pointed to the swift investigation into the electricity and water bills, and directed the immediate launch of a new electricity and water billing system, in addition to accelerating the deployment of a smart net energy metering system in order to build confidence in this service.
HRH the Crown Prince also highlighted the challenges faced by the private sector, noting that despite the positive results yielded by the Kingdom, Bahrain’s economy is influenced by global economic challenges. In this regard, HRH emphasised that the government continues to support key economic sectors and support their innovation. On this, HRH the Crown Prince directed the Ministry of Finance and National Economy to coordinate with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Bahrain Chamber of Commerce, the Labour Fund ‘Tamkeen’, and National Banks to create a BHD 100 million liquidity fund to restructure corporate financial commitments and further support the growth of innovative activity across key sectors.
Recognising that innovation is a vital component of development, HRH the Crown Prince outlined the outcomes of the Government Innovation Competition ‘Fikra’, which has received a total of 565 submissions. The 4 winning projects are: Work from Home, Hospitality, E-Volunteer Platform, and the National System for Appointments. HRH the Crown Prince thanked citizens for their participation and expressed his appreciation for the extraordinary range of talent demonstrated throughout the competition.
HRH the Crown Prince also announced the second edition of the Government Innovation Competition ‘Fikra’.
HRH the Crown Prince noted that Bahraini youth play a key role in the Kingdom’s development, adding that the Civil Service Council is working on restructuring 56 government entities of which 27 have been completed. This restructuring is designed to reinforce the youth’s contribution to Bahrain’s development process across all government work streams.
HRH the Crown Prince highlighted Bahrain’s efforts in accelerating development through a citizen-centred approach that is participatory and sustainable. The National Suggestion and Complaint system “Tawasul” has seen an increase in the number of government entities that exceed their service-level agreements from 3 to 16.
In conclusion, HRH noted that looking back at previous accomplishments should renew our drive towards the next phase of development, which requires enhanced confidence and renewed resolve. HRH the Crown Prince added that team Bahrain continues to relish challenges driven by a passion for achieving our goals.
Source: Bahrain News Agency