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Bahrain awards first ‘golden licences’ to five companies

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The golden licence is part of an economic recovery plan launched in October 2021 to boost growth and job opportunities

Bahrain has issued the first ‘golden licences’ to five companies which have invested more than $1.4 billion in the Gulf nation and are expected to generate more than 1,400 jobs by 2026.

The licences were granted to Citi, Eagle Hills Diyar WLL, Infracorp, Saudi Telecommunication Company and Whampoa Group, state-owned Bahrain News Agency reported.

The golden licence is part of an economic recovery plan launched in October 2021 to boost growth and job creation.

Companies with major investment and strategic projects that will create more than 500 jobs nationwide, or those with investment value exceeding $50 million are eligible for the golden licence.

Minister of industry and commerce Abdulla Adel Fakhro said the plan aims to attract $2.5 billion in foreign investment by the end of 2023.

Khalid Humaidan, CEO of Bahrain’s Economic Development Board, noted that the licence has provided companies with fast-tracked approvals and several facilities that have enabled them to secure a global footprint.

Barain has been struggling with high public debts for some years. It was bailed out in 2018 by Gulf neighbours with an aid package of $10 billion linked to reforms aimed at achieving fiscal balance by 2024.

The government’s debt-to-GDP ratio is forecast to hit 124 percent in 2024, while the general government budget deficit is set to be 4.1 percent of GDP in 2023 – up from 3.6 percent in 2022, according to Fitch.

Last month the International Monetary Fund said that Bahrain’s growth is projected to moderate to 2.7 percent in 2023, with non-oil GDP growing by 3.2 percent, reflecting fiscal consolidation and higher interest rates.

The economy grew by 4.9 percent in 2022, driven by a 6.2 percent growth in non-hydrocarbon GDP.