The Bahraini government has approved a deficit of 314 million dinars ($826 million) in its two-year budget for 2001 and 2002, newspapers reported on Monday. Revenues are forecast at $1.76 billion for 2001 and $1.78 billion the following year, against spending of $2.16 billion next year and $2.2 billion in 2002.
The Gulf island state's budget deficit in 1999 was estimated at $400 million.
A total of $842 million will be allocated for development projects in 2001 and 2002, including infrastructure projects on the Hawar islands at the center of a territorial dispute with Qatar, the reports said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa also briefed the cabinet at its meeting Sunday on a number of strategic projects to be carried out between 2001 and 2004 at an estimated cost of $1.18 billion, including the construction of a new port.
The oil reserves of Bahrain, the Gulf's banking hub, are drying up. But the country pumps around 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) and receives the entire output of 140,000 bpd from an offshore field shared with Saudi Arabia.
Although in 1932 it became the first Gulf Arab state to produce oil, Bahrain does not export crude but only ships products from a 250,000 bpd refinery, which is fed by around 200,000 bpd in imports from its Saudi neighbor. — (AFP, Manama)
© Agence France Presse 2000
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