Corruption Increases as Oil Prices Hike: Billions of Surpluses Disappear under Al Khalifa Reign

2022-05-26 - 5:42 م

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The fate of about 1 billion dinars ($2.6 billion) from last year's budget remains unknown so far. Only the ruling family can answer where this large sum went.

The government borrowed 1.512 billion dinars ($4 billion) last year, while the planned deficit was only 1.2 billion dinars.

This means that the government borrowed BD 312 million more than its need to pay for the planned deficit in the state's general budget, so what is the justification for borrowing this amount and where does it go towards?

Not only that, the government achieved over 600 million dinars in revenues last year due to high oil prices.

As usual, the government adopted a conservative price in the 2021 state budget at $50 per barrel, but oil prices rose on average last year to $70, an estimated increase of about 40%. 

If we add 312 million dinars (borrowing surpluses) and 600 million dinars (oil price difference), we find that the state has a surplus of about 1 billion dinars over the past year.

It all happened last year, yes (last year) and no one knows now, in mid-2022, where the billion dinars went.

If this amount, for example, was directed to serve housing projects, it would be enough to build 25,000 housing units under the supervision of the Ministry of Housing, but there is no impact on people's lives. 

Why is the Government burdening the state with additional financial burdens that it does not even need? Why is this procedure repeated and where does this money, which is borne by state finances and therefore citizens, go?

This is not the first time the government borrows more than its needs, as it borrowed about additional 1 billion dinars in 2017 and 2018, and the government has not provided any explanation as to the fate of the funds. 

We are facing a scene that is repeated every year, and no one has the right to ask the government and the king, the head of the authorities, why and where this huge money is being spent.

No one other than the family has the answer to borrowing in a time of high oil prices. Why did Bahrain borrow 2 billion dinars last November in light of the rise in oil prices? 

No one also knows whether the government will cancel its borrowing plans this year after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated its revenues to rise by 39%, which means it will record surpluses of up to 3 billion dinars.

Where will the government direct 2022 oil surpluses and the double revenues of aluminum? 

Over the past years, the country's finances have been loaded with debts it does not need as a result of these legalized thefts, until, according to official figures, the public debt amounted to 14.6 billion dinars, at least a quarter of which could have been avoided. 

As a result of this policy, debt servicing amounted to 750 million dinars, which is borne by the state's finances annually, the largest expenditure item in the general budget. 

While citizens bear these financial burdens of taxes, fees, deterioration in health, education and housing services and the inflation of the numbers of unemployed, the wealth of the king and his sons increases.

All of this is happening in Bahrain. The most important question the opposition has been asking for years remains: why do wealth and decision making remain in the hands of the ruling family alone in a complete absence of the most important equation: the people.

Arabic Version