GCC ministers to discuss Bahrain, Oman aid plan
Riyadh, March 3, 2011
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) finance ministers will discuss on March 5 a massive aid plan for unrest-hit Bahrain and Oman, a report said.
The plan, described as a Gulf version of the Marshall Plan, will include measures to improve the economic and social conditions in the two countries, GCC officials were quoted as saying by an AP report.
Key to the plan will be the injection of several billion dollars into Oman and Bahrain's economies, experts said, with Gulf leaders looking to cap some of the economic triggers for the unrest. The hope is that such a move will at least buy them more time to deal with the broader calls for political reforms.
"This is a test for the GCC union, and it's important that they're meeting," said John Sfakianakis, chief economist for the Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based Banque Saudi Fransi. "It's not going to be a meeting just to meet and greet. It's going to be a meeting to discuss the dollars and cents and the actual programs."
The plan, which was outlined by the GCC officials, includes funding for affordable housing and giving Bahraini and Omani citizens preference in securing jobs in other Gulf nations.
The finance ministers will meet in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to discuss the a Gulf customs and tariffs union, but the officials said the focus on the sidelines will be the economic aid to the two countries.