October 01, 2014
His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Economic Development Board (EDB), chaired the EDB board meeting, held in the Riffa Palace last month.
During the meeting, HRH the Crown Prince stressed the need for effective coordination and cooperation on the upcoming US $22 billion worth of development and infrastructure projects planned to be implemented over the coming years in the Kingdom. His Royal Highness reiterated the importance of integrating efforts between all concerned parties in order to meet the goals and outcomes of the projects effectively and in a timely manner, promoting further economic development as well as improvements in the overall services and quality of life along with the creation of quality job opportunities for Bahraini citizens.
The projects cover various sectors, including industrial investment, infrastructure, and tourism. This will enable entrepreneurial projects, and lead to the Kingdom’s aim of further diversification and sustainable development, in order to improve quality of life.
The meeting also highlighted the importance of Bahrainis experiencing first-hand the results of the projects supported by the GCC Development Fund and other major investment projects, in order to further develop services and promote economic growth. The need to accommodate opportunities across various sectors, developing as a result of these projects, was also stressed during the meeting, which highlighted the importance of enduring optimum use of resources and supporting consulting expertise. This is in order to further advance implementation efforts. The EDB was instructed to coordinate with both public and private entities to monitor the implementation of these projects, which are vital to raising the Kingdom’s competitiveness and the efficiency of its public services.
The meeting also included a presentation on the status of the King Fahd Causeway, and recommended solutions by the Minister of Finance, H.E. Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, who heads the committee directed by the EDB to provide recommendations on ways to expedite procedures for motorists and cargo trucks on the causeway.
The presentation provided a summary of the committee’s work, which included managing the cargo trucks’ entries and minimising waiting periods, as well as providing waiting areas for trucks on the causeway, and the reduction in the number of customs procedures. The committee also explored the important role both countries’ leaderships played in contributing to the positive outcomes of the cooperation between Bahrain and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
H.E. Shaikh Ahmed explained the committee categorised solutions into three phases: immediate, medium and long-term solutions. He revealed that upon implementation of the immediate solutions, average waiting time was reduced by 73% and an average of 90% reduction in time spent by cargo trucks waiting in designated areas on the causeway.
The solutions included a cancellation of entry passes for cargo trucks, designating waiting points, utilising areas of examination in private warehouses, and maximising use of the customs areas on the causeway. The committee also outlined recommendations to expand lanes and cargo trucks’ parking areas on the causeway, as well as to increase the number of passengers’ cabins and coordinate the possible linkage of customs and passport control with Saudi Arabia, along with ongoing coordination with the Saudi Arabia in terms of further expansion and railway plans.
HRH the Crown Prince directed the committee to continue monitoring the causeway, building on the positive results accomplished to date, and focusing on improving traffic flow via effective and efficient procedures.
Meanwhile, H.E. Kamal bin Ahmed, Minister of Transportation and Acting Chief Executive of the EDB, gave a comprehensive presentation on the EDB’s achievements since the start of the year, and outlined recommendations for the strategic priorities of the Kingdom through coordination with concerned government entities.
The meeting also discussed the current economic climate and areas of focus in order to achieve further economic growth. This was highlighted during a presentation which shed light on the need for the Kingdom to strengthen its financial status, and to intensify efforts in strengthening competitiveness, along with the identification of priorities and the distribution of resources in an effective manner. The EDB will have a role in ensuring the successful implementation of the chosen initiatives to complement these priorities.
In line with this, the main economic sectors shaping Bahrain’s strategic priorities identified were tourism, manufacturing, entrepreneurship, research, and financial services, as well as economic development initiatives. The sectors were identified based on the Kingdom’s competitive advantage and resources in a regional context.
HRH the Crown Prince also called for the establishment of a committee to study the development of the financial services sector, to be headed by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) Governor, H.E. Rasheed Al Maraj.
Finally, the meeting underlined the Kingdom’s achievements in attracting investment in the first half of 2014, where a total of 21 companies were registered, covering a range of sectors, including services and manufacturing, creating approximately 965 new job opportunities. Discussions were also initiated with over 67 companies in the same sectors on investing in the Kingdom. Additionally, various local and international events were organised with aims of drawing international investment into the Kingdom.