Bahrain 2030 masterplan sees radical reforms
Manama, October 24, 2008
A masterplan for a new Bahrain, built on radical economic and social reform, has been unveiled. Vision 2030 will turn Bahrain into a meritocracy, with hugely improved standards of living, higher wages and greater disposable incomes for Bahraini families.
Government will be radically reformed to allow the private sector to take over the reins of the economy, with a leaner, more efficient civil service providing top quality public services.
An equal start in life for all Bahrainis, with improved social welfare, health and education services, is promised under the blueprint, drawn up by the Economic Development Board (EDB).
It was launched at a ceremony attended by His Majesty King Hamad, Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and EDB chairman Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Deputy Premier Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa and top officials.
Vision 2030 pledges a fair society, with zero tolerance for corruption, a greener and cleaner environment and greater opportunities for all to share in the nation's prosperity.
It aims to create an economy independent of oil revenue, which could then be used for the benefit of future generations, such as for education, health care and creating a better environment to live in.
Economic Vision 2030 outlines the future path for the development of Bahrain's economy and society, says the EDB, which created it in consultation with the government and private sectors, political leaders and international bodies.
"At the heart of the Economic Vision lie the aspirations for our economy, government and society in accordance with the guiding principles of sustainability, competitiveness and, fairness," it says.
The aim is to transform Bahrain into a meritocracy, in which hard work reaps rewards, in an economy led by the private sector.
"We aspire to shift from an economy built on oil wealth to a productive, globally competitive economy, shaped by the government and driven by a pioneering private sector - an economy that raises a broad middle class of Bahrainis who enjoy good living standards through increased productivity and high-wage jobs," says the document.
"Our society and government will embrace the principles of sustainability, competitiveness and fairness to ensure that every Bahraini has the means to live a secure and fulfilling life and reach their full potential. "
Bahrain cannot afford to be complacent, despite its prosperous economy, it says. "Our real gross domestic product (GDP) has grown more than six percent per annum in the past five years, stimulated by resurgent oil prices, a thriving financial sector and a regional economic boom," says the blueprint.
"International confidence in our economy has also increased, with foreign direct investment inflows increasing from BD0.2 billion in 2003 to BD1.1bn in 2006.
"However, as one of the region's pioneering nations, Bahrain can and needs to do even better. The ultimate aim is to ensure that every Bahraini household has at least twice as much disposable income - in real terms - by 2030.
"This reflects what we set out to achieve: the Bahraini people enjoying better living standards as a result of more attractive employment opportunities and higher wages," says the document.
"This aim will only be reached if the private sector, the government and every member of Bahraini society all join together and work hard to make it happen.
"Nationally, our economy needs transformation. Bahrain is facing a shortage of both quality employment and appropriate skills.
"Over the next 10 years, the size of Bahrain's workforce will double. Currently, approximately 4,000 Bahrainis a year are entering the job market with at least a college degree.
"If present economic trends continue, the quality and number of jobs available will not satisfy the demand. More