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Budget vote plea to MPs...

CONTINGENCY plans are being drawn up by the Shura Council in case MPs fail to approve Bahrain's national budget during a vote today.

It should have started being implemented at the start of the year, but discussions have dragged on since last October amid a dispute with parliament about spending levels.

"We already aware of what MPs want included and some could be easily achieved, while others are difficult to match," said Shura Council financial and economic affairs committee chairman Khalid Al Maskati.

"A contingency plan is ready for yes and no and it takes into consideration all possible scenarios because we don't want the power to make a change to be taken from our hands as legislators with the government withdrawing the budget and referring it to His Majesty the King in its old version because it would be certainly a huge loss to the public."

MPs are being urged not to block the budget amid fears the government could overrule them and seek urgent approval from the King.

The revised budget allows private sector employees to "buy" five years of service towards their pension and use it to take loans.

Pensions would also be increased to benefit 44,000 people in the public and private sectors.

The anti-inflation allowance would also continue under new criteria.

The new budget would see recurrent expenditure at BD7.97 billion for this year and BD6.08bn next year.

Projects will cost BD1.65bn this year and BD2.1bn next year.

These changes would increase spending by BD1.43bn and meant this year's deficit would be BD800.2 million and BD800.83m next year. Shura Council is scheduled to hold its own vote on the budget on May 6. mohammed@gdn.com.bh



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