Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE to sign $10 billion Bahrain aid deal — report

Bahrain’s international bond prices and currency have come under pressure this year as the kingdom runs fiscal and current account deficits partly caused by low oil prices. (AFP)
Updated 04 October 2018
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Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE to sign $10 billion Bahrain aid deal — report

  • Bahrain’s international bond prices and currency have come under pressure this year as the kingdom runs fiscal and current account deficits
  • A $10 billion package would be worth about a quarter of Bahrain’s annual gross domestic product

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates will soon sign an agreement to provide up to $10 billion of financial support to Bahrain, Kuwait’s Al Rai newspaper said on Thursday, quoting an unnamed Gulf diplomatic source.
The agreement will be signed in Bahrain after the ministers complete their current visit to Jordan, where they are concluding a financial aid deal for that country, the newspaper reported.
“A Gulf decision at the highest levels was taken to start the execution steps for a program to support the financial stability of Bahrain,” the diplomatic source was quoted as saying.
Bahrain’s international bond prices and currency have come under pressure this year as the kingdom runs fiscal and current account deficits partly caused by low oil prices.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, which are diplomatic allies of Bahrain, announced in June that they were in talks on a major aid package for the kingdom that would be linked to its progress in reforming its finances.
Sources in Bahrain told Reuters last month that the government planned to push reforms through parliament before Nov. 24 elections to the assembly. These include the imposition of value-added tax and changes to the pension system,
Al Rai did not give details of the aid package. Sources previously told Reuters that it would extend over several years.
A $10 billion package would be worth about a quarter of Bahrain’s annual gross domestic product and 28 percent of public debt, and cover over two years of state budget deficits according to International Monetary Fund projections.
It would put no significant strain on the combined finances of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, which have hundreds of billions of dollars in their sovereign wealth funds and with Brent oil trading above $80 a barrel, have seen their own deficits narrow sharply or disappear in recent months.


Canada to resettle group of Syrian White Helmets

Updated 13 min 47 sec ago
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Canada to resettle group of Syrian White Helmets

  • Canada has supported the work of the White Helmets by helping them to expand, train more volunteers, train more women and save more lives
  • Jordan said a group of 279 Syrian rescue workers has left the kingdom for resettlement in Western countries

OTTAWA: Canada is preparing to welcome a group of Syrian White Helmets rescuers, officials said on Friday, without specifying when they will be resettled.
“Together with a core group of international allies, Canada is working to resettle a group of White Helmets and their families after they had to flee Syria as a result of being specifically targeted by the Syrian regime and its backer, Russia,” Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said in a joint statement.
“As first responders, the White Helmets have witnessed first-hand some of the most appalling crimes committed by the murderous Assad regime. Canada has supported the work of the White Helmets by helping them to expand, train more volunteers, train more women and save more lives,” they said, referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
In July, following the evacuation of 400 White Helmets from Syria to Israel and then to Jordan, Canada announced that it was ready to accommodate 50 of them and their families, for a potential total of 250 people.
Jordan said Wednesday a group of 279 Syrian rescue workers has left the kingdom for resettlement in Western countries.
Founded in 2013, the Syrian Civil Defense, or White Helmets, is a network of first responders who rescue wounded in the aftermath of air strikes, shelling or blasts in rebel-held territory.