Manama Powerless in front of Riyadh's Dominance: Saudi Decision Puts Bahrain's Land Transport Sector on Bankruptcy Brink
2020-05-25 - 6:14 am
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Instances of Saudi bullying against Bahrain are increasing. After it was recently revealed that the Saudi authorities do not allow Bahrain to conduct any surveys in the northern and western Gulf of Bahrain, and after Saudi Arabia was angered by a statement attributed to Bahrain's Oil Minister regarding new discoveries in the Gulf, the Bahrain Transport and Communications Association unveiled on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, another Saudi act of bullying against Bahrain.
The association complained that Bahraini trucks were prevented from transporting goods to Saudi Arabia while empty Saudi trucks were allowed to enter Bahrain to load and transport goods to Saudi Arabia.
In a letter to Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Bahrain Transport and Communications Association said: "We would like to tell you that Bahrain's land transport and shipping companies were surprised after a meeting between the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Kingdom of Bahrain with that of the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia on May 6, 2020, in which a decree was issued allowing the entry of empty Saudi transport trucks to ship goods from the Kingdom of Bahrain, while preventing Bahrain's companies from transporting to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."
Bahrain has been under heavy Saudi influence since Manama resorted to Riyadh to help it quell a popular uprising and military intervention in 2011. Part of Saudi and UAE forces are also still in the country.
Ahmed Dhaif, head of the Bahrain Transport Association, emphasizes that "national transport institutions and companies are linked to many contracts with factories and investors on the Bahrain and Saudi Arabia sides, and are conditioned by several guarantees such as the delivery of goods to the other party (beneficiary) outside Bahrain on time, and the non-damage of the goods even partially, and in the event of breach of these conditions, transport institutions will incur the fines of delay and legal consequences of violating the terms of the contract."
He noted in the letter that "the institutions and transport companies suffer from many financial obligations in light of the low economic movement resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic, and therefore the continued decision that allows entry of Saudi transport trucks to load goods from Bahrain amid prevents Bahraini companies will aggravate the financial conditions of these companies and limit their competition ability or their continuation and will eventually lead to their bankruptcy and exit from the labor market."
The association called on the Crown Prince to reciprocate, noting that Bahraini trucks have the priority to transport Bahraini goods to Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain has a huge budget deficit that jumped from just 4% to 15.7%, and a public debt of at least 14 billion dinars at best estimations, while the benefits of public debt are the largest item in the country's budget. The Government of Bahrain pays 640 million dinars annually to cover interest on its debt only. This figure represents about one third of the country's budget and will increase as debt increases.
Bahrain has approved a financial balance program under which it will receive aid from three Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, to control its debt and achieve balance between expenses and revenues. It is expecting new payments, especially with consequences of the Coronavirus epidemic on its fragile economy.