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Tue 28 May 2019 10:04 AM

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Bahraini MPs banned from flying first class, as overseas travel budget is cut 30%

Parliament officials ordered to limit usage to business class tickets.

Bahraini MPs banned from flying first class, as overseas travel budget is cut 30%
The move comes as lower oil prices since 2014 have widened Bahrain’s fiscal and external imbalances and intensified its macroeconomic vulnerabilities.

Bahraini members of parliament (MPs) have had their budget for overseas trips slashed by 30 percent as the government looks to tighten its belt amidst mounting debt and a budget deficit.

“We are working to slash spending on foreign trips by 30 percent as we minimise unnecessary attendance by MPs or staff,” parliament secretary general Rashid Bunajma told a press conference on Monday, according to a report by Gulf Daily News.

MPs and parliament officials have also been banned from flying first class and ordered to limit usage to business class tickets.

“There are plans to further reduce spending on trips, but we have to consider that our presence in regional and world meetings and forums is vital…. All MPs and senior officials now travel on business and no-one is travelling on parliament’s expense first class. Claims they do are untrue.”

The move comes as lower oil prices since 2014 have widened Bahrain’s fiscal and external imbalances and intensified its macroeconomic vulnerabilities.

The kingdom’s cash-strapped government was rescued by neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE last year in a $10 billion bailout deal, as the Gulf state’s public debt rose to almost 93 percent of annual economic output.

As part of the deal, Bahrain announced the Fiscal Balance Programme (FBP) in late 2018 to help address the kingdom’s fiscal challenges and balance its budget by 2022.

The IMF noted in March that oil output in Bahrain is expected to have declined by 1.2 percent, while non-oil output growth decelerated to 2.5 percent, driven by slowdowns in retail, hospitality, and financial services sectors.

However, there are signs of progress, with the country’s overall budget deficit in 2018 falling to 11.7 percent of GDP, from 14.2 percent in 2017, the IMF added.