Chamber drafts blueprint for post-Covid business growth

MANAMA: A call for rescheduling of loans taken by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to overcome the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is among 65 recommendations resulting from discussions led by Bahrain’s main business body last week.

Held virtually, the second edition of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (BCCI) annual conference of sectoral committees has drafted a plan of recovery and post-pandemic growth which includes providing focused support to the most affected sectors, stimulating mergers and acquisitions and establishing funds and new stock trading platforms to enable easier and cheaper access to capital for business.

Other proposals that emerged after two days of talks are:

- Establishing a national food security authority,

- An electronic platform for real estate projects,

- Expanding export of national products,

- Stimulating pharmaceutical industries and developing new academic and vocational curricula for more jobs for Bahrainis,

- Establishing specialised institutes for hospitality and hotel, a strategy for tourism,

- Establishing an investment portfolio for alternative energy and credit rating and fostering innovation,

- Avoiding double taxation and the revival of e-commerce,

- Enacting legislations to protect national product competition and

Standardising customs procedures, and guiding local exporters.

The final list of recommendations was compiled after a session that saw the heads of all 10 sectoral committees of the chamber coming together: Fareed Bader representing industry and energy; Dr Yousif Salahuddin representing commercial markets; Raed Omar representing real estate and construction; Khalid Al Amin representing food wealth; Dr Waheeb Al Khaja representing education; Sawsan Abulhasan representing finance, insurance and tax; Dr Ebtisam Aldalal representing health; Khalid Turk representing transportation and logistics; Dr Osama Albaharna representing technology and Jehad Amin representing hospitality and tourism.

A statement said the recommendations are aimed at enabling the private sector to seize opportunities and stimulate innovation in order to overcome challenges to ensure business sustainability.

All conference outcomes will be submitted to the chamber’s board of directors for further research and analysis leading to the formation of a working group that would co-ordinate with the authorities for implementation.

Three panel sessions were held on the first day and their outcomes include:

- Developing Tamkeen programmes to support small and micro enterprises taking them from survival to stability,

- Seeking co-ordination between the Central Bank of Bahrain and banks to reschedule loans by companies,

- Evaluating mechanisms for implementing the new reorganisation and bankruptcy law to support distressed institutions,

- Activating e-commerce for sectors within commercial markets, and linking it to Tamkeen programme,

- Establishing a unified electronic platform to promote all real estate projects in Bahrain under the umbrella of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority and

- Reducing the requirements imposed on the training sector in light of the pandemic, while attracting new universities in a variety of disciplines that are not in the labour market.

The second day saw two panel sessions, the first titled ‘Innovation and Energy: The lifeline of the future’ and the second ‘Future of Logistics and Communication: A connected world’.

The first session was moderated by the chamber’s executive committee member Basim Alsaie.

Participants included industry and energy committee vice chairman Yasser Al Rahma and member Haytham Alqahtani; finance, insurance and tax committee vice-chairman Ali Al Mahroos and member Wesam Baqer; real estate and construction committee chairman Raed Omar, vice-chairman Ahmed Yousif and member Abdulrahman Al Kooheji; food wealth committee member Shaikh Rashid Al Khalifa and technology committee member Alharith Alatawi.

Key among 14 recommendations are:

- Studying the feasibility of subsidised conversion to renewable energy and establishing an investment portfolio for renewable projects,

- Initiating vertical agriculture projects and linking them to the strategy of the proposed National Food Security Authority,

- Developing academic programmes linked to job requirements and trends in real estate and construction sector and taking advantage of double taxation avoidance agreements to promote exports.

The final panel session was moderated by board member Sonya Janahi.

Participants included food wealth committee chairman Khalid Al Amin and member Hana Kanoo, hospitality and tourism committee chairman Jehad Amin; commercial markets committee adviser Khaled Salem and member Nabeel Ajoor; industry and energy committee member Dr Bader Al Mannai; transportation and logistics committee adviser Dr John Web; and technology committee member Rashed Al Snan.

Key among 17 recommendations are:

- Developing a unified national strategy to include all tourism sectors (sports, educational, cultural, medical) to market Bahrain internationally,

- Educating the private sector about maritime freight fees, and the best way to ship goods, while reducing the cost of shipping, and working on establishing a sea line between the countries of the Cooperation Council for the Arab Gulf States, to facilitate the transportation of passengers and goods and

- Establishing a national company for the distribution and packaging of local agricultural products.

The conference also hosted high-calibre speakers including renowned author and motivational speaker John Sanei and Air Arabia board member and group chief executive Adel Ali, alongside top economists and business experts, officials, academics and entrepreneurs.




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