Budget boycott threat by Bahraini MPs


The financial and economic affairs committee called for the monthly BD50 inflation allowance, excluded from the budget, to continue even though a decision in this regard was never reached.

Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa allocated BD40 million for the allowance in January, which was later implemented in March.

It was backdated to the month the government agreed to allocate it in January.

It was later increased to BD73 million to include more families, whose breadwinners earn below BD1,500 a month.

MPs in March demanded that a special budget is allocated in the 2009-2010 budget, but the government said it would consider the proposal.

The committee held its first meeting yesterday with Finance Minister Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa and other officials to discuss the budget.

It said that it would not discuss anything in the new budget unless more details were presented to it at the next scheduled meeting on Wednesday and their demands were fulfilled.

"Information presented to us in regard to infrastructure projects’ budgets like housing, electricity, education and health, are still unclear, and why the BD50 allowance is not continued in the new budget despite promises that it is being considered," said committee chairman Abduljalil Khalil.

"The budget won’t go ahead without the government agreement to our terms and the Finance Ministry is obliged to submit information on the oil surge for this year, considering that it was high at a rate of $ 90 (BD34.02) per barrel.

"All information will have to be in our hands by Wednesday, as we have scheduled extraordinary meetings to complete the budget’s revision as soon as possible.

"We won’t continue, or in other words, can’t continue if information is not being presented to us in detail and on time."

"The ministry has violated the Constitution because the budget was not in detail and missed a lot of important information necessary for MPs to give it the go-ahead

"The budget should be comprehensive and include the current fiscal and monetary status of the government, how projections were made and what effect it would have on funds.

"This information was never presented to us and this is why we have reservations on how the ministry has dealt with us."

Mr Khalil said that the committee wanted audited reports detailing profits of Mumtalakat, which runs 37 other companies, including Alba and Bapco.

"We want to know the proper production numbers of oil and gas fields as well as Alba’s profits and revenue," he said.

Finance Ministry under-secretary Aref Khamis said that the information presented to the committee at the meeting was only the first batch of more to come.

"It was a positive discussion, we have provided MPs with the first batch of information and more will be given in our upcoming meetings," he said.

Mr Khamis conducted a presentation on the government’s fiscal and monetary status.

He also spoke about the gross domestic product since 2002 and its effect on the country’s major sectors, and its implications on the budget revenue.

Mr Khamis said that the budget was estimated on a $ 60 (BD22.68) per barrel, with 34,000 coming daily from Bahrain Field and 150,000 from Abu Sa’fah Field.

He said that gas sales were estimated at $ 1.11 (0.420 fils) for next year and $ 1.19 (0.450 fils) for 2010 per one million British thermal unit.

"A part of Mumtalakat revenue, which is BD52 million, will be used in the budget next year and BD60m in 2010," he said.

"Housing is a priority, especially the BD1 billion Northern Town, and we have kept aside a budget based on directives by His Majesty King Hamad."


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