Bahrain looks to cut costs to help cut budget deficit

Bahrain will focus on “stringent” cost controls to help cut its budget deficit, according to the country’s finance minister. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Updated 11 February 2019
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Bahrain looks to cut costs to help cut budget deficit

LONDON: Bahrain will focus on “stringent” cost controls to help cut its budget deficit, according to the country’s finance minister.
Sheikh Salman bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa, minister of finance and national economy, told Bloomberg Television that Bahrain will also use investment to stimulate growth.
“It is important to ensure we maintain spend where that spend drives economic growth, creates jobs or provides essential services or subsidies while at the same time ensuring we revisit any areas of operational expenditure where we can put more pressure,” Sheikh Salman said.
Bahrain reduced its deficit by 35 percent last year and plans to balance its books by 2022.
Cutting the deficit is one requirement of a $10 billion aid package pledged by neighbors, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Like other regional economies, Bahrain has been hit hard by plummeting oil prices.


India suspends Kashmir border trade with Pakistan

Updated 19 April 2019
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India suspends Kashmir border trade with Pakistan

  • Kashmir has been on edge since a February suicide attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitaries
  • India said it had reports that trade on the border was being “misused by Pakistan-based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency”

NEW DELHI: India has suspended trade across its disputed Kashmir border with Pakistan, alleging that weapons and drugs are being smuggled across the route, as tensions simmer between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
Kashmir has been on edge since a February suicide attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitaries and brought the two countries to the brink of war with cross-border air strikes.
On Thursday, India’s government, which is in the middle of a tough national election, said it had reports that trade on the border was being “misused by Pakistan-based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency.”
It also said many of those trading across the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir into zones under Indian and Pakistani control, had links to militant organizations.
The home ministry said trade would be suspended until a stricter inspection mechanism is in place.
The cross-border trade is based on a barter system, with traders exchanging goods including chillies, cumin, mango and dried fruit.
It began in 2008 as a way to improve strained relations between New Delhi and Islamabad, who have fought two of their three wars over the disputed region.
The Indian Express newspaper said Friday that 35 trucks carrying fruit traveling from the Indian side of the border had been stopped after the government order.
Trade on the border has been suspended before, including in 2015, when India accused a Pakistani driver of drug trafficking.
The latest move comes after India withdrew “Most Favoured Nation Status” — covering trade links — from Pakistan after the February attack, which was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed Islamist group.
Islamabad has denied any involvement in the attack.
India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made national security a key plank of his re-election campaign, pointing to the recent flare-up of violence as he battles the center-left opposition Congress party.
He is seeking a second term from the country’s 900 million voters in the mammoth election which kicked off on April 11 and runs till May 19. The results will be out on May 23.