Bahrain's Budget of Luxury, Inflated Spending on Military and Security and Austerity Measures Imposed on Citizens
2023-04-21 - 2:47 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Details of Bahrain's draft budget for 2023-2024, which the government referred to parliament, have gone viral.
It can be clearly noticed from a simple glance at the budget that the deficit continues, and that the public debt interest for the two fiscal years is huge, amounting to about one and a half billion dinars.
On the one hand, there are astronomical figures and inflated spending items in the new budget, namely the allocations to the defense and security sectors, in addition to the justice sector.
This, according to the government's items in the general budget includes: the defense sector, the public order sector and public safety affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the judicial apparatuses.
Paradoxically, adding the justice and judicial system to the security and defense sectors seems logical in Bahrain, as this sector has become one of several means of repression and subjugation, punishment, and persecution of citizens.
We are facing a limited number of ministries and agencies to which the government has allocated sums that may exceed the total of what the state spends on the civil sector and citizens. One-third or more of the budget is allocated to this aforementioned sector.
The figures addressed in this report are the recurring expenses only, i.e. salaries, allocations and financial allowances for these entities, amounting to 2 billion and 45 million and 694,000 dinars.
The amounts are divided as follows: The government has set for what it called the defense sector an amount of one billion, 50 million and 600 thousand dinars for the next two years. This sector includes three entities: First, the Ministry of Defense, whose budget was set at 953 million and 784 thousand Bahraini Dinars, second, the General Secretariat of the Supreme Defense Council whose budget is 12 million and 868 thousand dinars, and third comes the National Guard with 83 million and 948 thousand dinar budget for two years.
The second sector, which the budget called "the public order and safety affairs sector", includes the security, justice and judicial agencies, for which the government has set a two-year budget of 895 million and 94 thousand dinars.
This sector includes 8 entities: the Ministry of Interior, which has the lion's share in this sector, 725 million and 158 thousand Bahraini dinars, followed by the intelligence service with a budget of 66 million and 628 thousand dinars, and then the governorates sector, which was given 8 million and 312 thousand dinars, and the Customs Affairs with 31 million and 520 thousand dinars.
The justice and judicial sector starts from the Supreme Judicial Council, whose budget for two years is 28 million and 161 thousand dinars, then the Ministry of Justice, which has been given an allocated amount of 24 million and 92 thousand dinars, as well as the administrative apparatus of the Public Prosecution whose budget is 6 million and 604 thousand dinars, and the Constitutional Court which has a 4 million and 519 dinar budget.
Meanwhile, the entire budget of the social protection sector specified in the budget, which includes allocations of: the Social Security Fund, the National Social Fund, obligations and amounts of support for retirement systems, and the allowance for improving the standard of living of retirees, support for low-income families, alimony fund, food subsidies, government share of the unemployment insurance system, housing allowance (rental allowance), housing program support (reduction of housing premiums), amounts to only 879 million and 508 thousand dinars. All of this amount is less than what is allocated to one single sector; the defense and security.
As a reminder however, the amounts of recurrent expenses allocated to defense and security does not include the expenses on arms purchases, military training courses, and security projects, all of these amounts are "secret" and will not be made known to the public in a country like Bahrain.
The first look tells us that we are facing lavish spending on the military and security sectors, which consume one third of the budget or more, while at the same time allocating a budget of scarcity and frugality when it comes to citizens' basic needs.
On the other hand, the budget allocated by the government to projects amounts to 450 million, which the government says are for housing and service projects. Bahrainis; however, are not optimistic that the government will complete most of the projects it promises.
This is not unlikely after what was published about the 2021 budget, in which the government allocated an amount of 300 million for projects that it told the parliament and the Shura would complete for the people, but it appeared in the final account of the state for the year 2021 that it did not complete 40% of those projects. These promises were just ink on paper.
Citizens are not confident in these promises, because it is not a government of achievement, and it has not yet proven itself to be one.
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