Investment plan

Bahrain announces $30 billion post-pandemic investment plan

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The island kingdom of Bahrain on Wednesday announced plans to spend more than $30 billion to boost investment and build infrastructure over the next few years, promising to create five new cities on artificial islands.

The draft signals the government’s efforts to spur growth after the economic pain of the pandemic, even though its fiscal position remains fragile, with the country’s public debt rising to 133% of its gross domestic product last year, according to the Fund. international currency.

The statement did not provide details on how the country would finance the massive undertaking, which involves 22 projects, including man-made islands that would increase the kingdom’s landmass by more than 60%, a new causeway to the Saudi Arabia to boost regional trade and a 100- kilometer (62-mile) metro linking all cities in the country.

“Bahrain is emerging from the pandemic with a bold ambition that goes beyond economic recovery towards a more prosperous future,” Finance Minister Sheikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said.

Bahrain, like its neighbors, is pushing a so-called Vision 2030 to diversify its economy, even as oil continues to provide around 75% of government revenue.

The oil-producing country has taken on more debt to cope with the economic shock of the pandemic, which has pushed oil prices to historic lows.

Bahrain last month said it was pushing back its zero deficit target to 2024 and announced further steps to rein in its debt levels, cutting spending and raising its sales tax from 5% to 10%. . Wealthier Gulf Arab countries, which in 2018 offered the kingdom a $10 billion bailout, have expressed support for its fiscal plans.