ESCWA Reveals Inequitable Distribution of Wealth: 1 in 13 Bahrainis below Poverty Line

2023-06-07 - 3:32 p

Bahrain Mirror: New figures published by ESCWA (Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia) revealed the significant difference between international estimates of poverty in Bahrain and government estimates.

A recent report by the international organization set the poverty line in Bahrain for a family at 490 dinars, while the government estimates say that the poverty line is below 490.

Social Development Minister Osama Al-Asfoor has said that a family of 6 members needs only 366 dinars per month to maintain a livelihood, however, this figure provoked the Bahraini public.

Comparing the estimates of the international organization and the figures of the Bahraini government, one finds that the difference is 124 dinars in determining the amount of money needed for a family to live.

According to the international organization, 1 in every 13 Bahrainis is poor, which is the third highest rate among GCC citizens after Saudi Arabia and Oman.

According to the organization's figures, about 54,000 Bahraini citizens live below the poverty line, representing 7.5% of the total number of citizens.

The percentage increased from 6.8% in 2010 to 7.5% in 2021, and is likely to increase as price inflation continues, and due to the lack of fair distribution of wealth.

The international organization confirms that there is a high level of inequality in Bahrain, noting that the level of income or expenditure and its distribution among the population are the main factors contributing to poverty rates.

"The inequality in distribution of spending in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain is more than in other GCC countries," the organization said.

It revealed that the spending of the 10% of poorest families in Bahrain is 10 times less compared to the richest 10%.

This figure illustrates the disparity between the spending of the rich and poor citizens in Bahrain, which reflects the significant imbalance in the distribution of wealth, which is one of several economic and political problems that provoke crises in the country.

Contrasting the Gulf figures, the size of the difference in average family spending between GCC countries is shown. The organization said that the average family expenditure in Bahrain is 1584 dinars, while the average in Qatar is 4566 dinars.

The international organization believes that clear poverty reduction policies should be followed and should be directed to ensure a more diversified and inclusive economy, while making sure that it doesn't disregard anyone.

ESCWA called for a fair and equitable tax system through direct progressive income tax to support marginalized groups, and for subsidy reform to reduce the financial burden on the most vulnerable.

ESCWA stressed the importance of supporting employment, enabling vulnerable groups to access decent work opportunities and enabling successful career progression.

The figures of the international organization confirm the demand of the Bahraini public for a fair distribution of wealth, as wealth is in the hands of a few, while larger groups of people are deprived of national wealth, employment and decent work.

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