Video: Bahrain EDB Official says Economy in Bahrain Represents a Challenge
2017-05-16 - 12:45 am
Bahrain Mirror: In light of Bahrain's economy recently taking a hit from low oil prices, an official at the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) said that the economic situation in Bahrain and Gulf countries represents a challenge, but also an opportunity believing that the situation would help "really push through economic reforms that are going to make Bahrain even more competitive in the years ahead."
In a video interview with Bloomberg during the World Economic Forum in Cambodia, Simon Galpin, the managing director at Bahrain EDB said, based on number provided by the Bahraini Crown Prince, that "Bahrain now less than 20% of its GDP comes from oil and gas, most come from things like financial services and manufacturing and other private sector activities."
Bahrain has been hit by a crippling economic crisis, with deficits and public debt rising to record highs. The government has recently stepped up its austerity measures by lifting government subsidies on many commodities such as fuel, electricity and meat. The government also halted its annual raises for government sector employees, while it reduced the budget for many ministries and projects.
Galpin stated that $32 billion is being invested in an expansion of the airport, a second crossway to Saudi Arabia, and new tourism destinations and developments. He also noted that of that $32 billion being invested in Bahrain, most of it is coming from the private sector.
On another note, Galpin indicated that there is a change in foot in Bahrain, stressing the need to put Bahrain back on the map after it was once a pioneer in many domains including the first in the Gulf to build a global airline, financial services, Islamic finance and banking.
He indicated that although Bahrain has a very free and open economy, its proximity to Saudi Arabia and its role in the GCC is very important, especially as it is considered the smallest economy in the GCC.
Galpin suggested in his Bloomberg interview a potential growth in tourism, as Bahrain is working on sectors and facilities that would attract Saudi visitors and encourage them to stay a little longer. He also noted the importance of the development in the aluminum sector, noting the expansion in the Alba aluminum smelter, estimated to be the "largest single site smelter in the world".
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