BOUNCE BACK PREDICTED:Most businessmen upbeat on recovery

MANAMA: As many as 70 per cent of business owners in Bahrain are optimistic about their prospects in the coming two to three years, according to a study conducted by the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).

The findings of a survey titled The Economic Impact of Coronavirus on Business Owners, were discussed yesterday during a meeting led by BCCI chairman Sameer Nass, with the chamber’s steering committee, headed by board member Sonya Janahi.

The steering committee manages the 10 sectoral committees, whose representatives were also present.

The vast majority of owners (77pc) responding to the survey said they expect their businesses to recover in 12 months post the coronavirus crisis.

During the ongoing crisis, as many as 73pc of business owners have benefited from some form of government support – liquidity fund or Tamkeen.

The study also found that 61pc of business owners have increased use of online payments.

On the flip side, 84pc have expressed uncertainty regarding payment of salaries to their employees and 49pc expect cash flow problems lasting one to six months.

As many as 83pc of business owners said their businesses were affected by the government decision on full or partial closures in the last few months, whereas 39pc of business owners expect having to lay off over 20pc of their employees.

More than two-thirds (67pc) of business owners expect significant loss or reduction in their revenue or profit, while 32pc of respondents expect their businesses to go bankrupt.

The sentiment is much worse in the tourism and hospitality sector, where more than two out of five (43pc) of businesses expect to close or go bankrupt as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Among key recommendations made during the meeting are a proposal by the food wealth committee to establish a food and drug authority in Bahrain to ensure food security during times of turbulence, in addition to resuming government support programmes for small and medium enterprises and to restaurants in particular.

The education committee has called for extending student loans at favourable rates, in a bid to enable students to continue their education.

As for the tourism committee, it called for urgent revival programmes and support to the sector, which has been badly affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

The meeting, which was also attended by the first and second deputies of the chairman, vice chair of the steering committee, the chief executive of and all committee heads, deliberated about a number of key issues namely the current economic situation in Bahrain, updates with regard to the obstacles facing the private sector, the initiatives and proposals of the chamber’s committees with regard to supporting the private sector, co-ordination between the chamber and the relevant government bodies, and extending support to the private sector post the coronavirus period.




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