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Bahrain follows Saudi Arabia, Oman with budget cuts amid crisis

Bahrain follows Saudi Arabia, Oman with budget cuts amid crisis

The kingdom has so far reported 1,895 virus cases and seven deaths

Bahrain became the latest nation in the oil-rich Gulf to announce drastic spending cuts, an effort to stretch the budget at a time the crash in oil prices and measures to combat the global pandemic decimate revenue.

The Gulf country will slash operating expenses for ministries and government departments by 30 per cent, the state-run Bahrain News Agency reported on Monday.

The cabinet also agreed to reschedule a number of construction and other projects to help meet emergency costs of preventing the spread of the virus.

Other proposals it approved include a regulation granting workers unpaid leave.

Governments in the region from Saudi Arabia to Oman have looked for budget savings even as they try to support businesses upended by the crisis. Bahrain last month rolled out a 4.3bn-dinar ($11.4bn) package to assist its private sector, mostly including measures that it said won’t affect the budget deficit.

Bahrain, the smallest among economies of the six Gulf Cooperation Council members, has the added protection of a $10bn bailout package secured from its regional allies in 2018.

Still, its fiscal buffers will come under strain, with the International Monetary Fund projecting the budget deficit at about 16 per cent of gross domestic product this year.

The island kingdom has so far reported 1,895 virus cases and seven deaths.

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