Bahrain gets first instalment of Gulf aid package

Bahraini government says initial payment of $2.292 billion of $10-billion support package from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait has been received in full in a bid to balance its budget by 2022.

DUBAI - Bahrain said on Thursday it has received the first instalment of a $10-billion support package from key Gulf allies aimed at balancing its budget by 2022.

The initial payment of $2.292 billion for the year 2018 had been received "in full", the government said a statement carried by the official BNA news agency.

With 80 percent of its revenues from oil and a large budget deficit, Bahrain announced in October 2018 an economic reform plan backed by the package from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

The plan, Bahrain says, was designed to save 800 million Bahraini dinars ($2.1 billion, 1.84 billion euros) annually as the kingdom looks to curb its debt after years of low oil prices.

"The receipt of the second instalment (of $2.276 billion for this year) has already started," BNA reported.

It added Bahrain would receive instalments up until 2023.

The reform programme includes cutting public expenditure and government waste, voluntary retirements for government workers and "redirecting" state subsidies.

The authorities have said they are also looking to increase "non-oil revenues, to drive economic growth, diversify government income streams and align non-oil revenue with positive economic growth".