Changes 'imminent' in Bahrain subsidies system
Manama, January 6, 2014
Changes to the system of providing government subsidies in Bahrain are "imminent" and the issue is being studied, it was announced yesterday.
The government currently subsidises fuel, flour and meat (livestock and chicken) to keep prices down for consumers, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
However, a review is currently under way and Minister of State for Information Affairs and official government spokeswoman Sameera Rajab said changes were inevitable.
However, she lashed out at some reports in a section of the media that she accused of "exaggerating" the scale of the issue.
"Any decision of such magnitude will not be taken without thorough study and nothing is set, as suggested by the media or those exaggerating things," Rajab told a press conference after yesterday's weekly Cabinet session at Gudaibiya Palace.
"Sometimes lifting support from one basic commodity could be to increase it in another, but nothing has been announced as the issue is still being reviewed.
"Negative news affects direction, but with changes in nearby countries and the world, a change to the subsidies system in Bahrain is imminent.
"We are currently working on a roadmap and decisions will not come out of the blue."
Plans to lift government subsidies on diesel, which would result in increased prices at the pump, were frozen on Tuesday after MPs threatened to stage a second walkout in two weeks in protest.
MPs are now due to meet government representatives from today to discuss subsidies, including diesel.
A special committee has also been formed by His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa to study the issue.
The GDN reported last week that there had been a massive increase in the cost of subsidies in Bahrain over the past five years.
Deputy Premier Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa told MPs that the government spent BD1.126 billion ($2.97 billion) on subsidies last year, compared to BD822 million in 2007.
If the plan to lift diesel subsidies went ahead as planned on January 15, the cost of domestic consumption would almost double in three years - up from 100 fils per litre at present to 180 fils from January 2017. - TradeArabia News Service