Bahrain seizes on oil windfall to rebuild funds hit by pandemic
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Bahrain seizes on oil windfall to rebuild funds hit by pandemic

Bahrain seizes on oil windfall to rebuild funds hit by pandemic

The country will put $2 into the Future Generations Reserve Fund for each barrel of crude sold at over $80

Bahrain will resume making payments into its rainy day fund, doubling the amount it contributes at oil prices over $80 a barrel, as it looks to rebuild savings tapped to handle the economic impact of the pandemic.

The country will put $2 into the Future Generations Reserve Fund for each barrel of crude sold at over $80, according to a statement. It will set aside $1 when oil is over $40 and pay $3 if it exceeds $120.

Global benchmark Brent has mostly traded above $100 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

In a turnaround from two years ago, soaring crude prices are transforming the fortunes of the petrostates in the Gulf, generating a windfall that’s now allowing the region’s most vulnerable economies to rebuild finances, pay down debt and raise spending.

Even the biggest producers like Saudi Arabia, which is set to record its first budget surplus in about a decade this year, are capitalising on the boom times to add to its foreign assets and boost investment by its sovereign wealth funds.

Bahrain had halted payments into its reserve fund in 2020 and drew down $450m, almost half its assets, as the coronavirus pandemic shut down economies around the world and briefly sent oil prices below zero.

Bahrain received a $10bn financial aid package in 2018 to help it cope with high debt levels and budget deficits. As part of the financial support from richer neighbouring nations including Saudi Arabia, the country outlined plans to balance its budget by 2022. But last year it pushed back that target because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its economy.

Since then, soaring oil prices and an economic rebound have led Finance Minister Sheikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa to say the country could now beat the 2024 goal.

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