New stimulus package plan

A NEW financial package to help strengthen the economy with contributions from the private sector will be drawn up soon, revealed a top government minister.

Finance and National Economy Minister Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said yesterday that details related to the stimulus package, in co-operation with businesses in the country, will be made public in the coming days.

He was speaking to MPs during yesterday’s weekly Parliament session during which they passed an urgent legislation to withdraw money from the Unemployment Fund to pay for the wages of Bahrainis in the private sector for the next three months.

The BD215 million fund aims to support more than 100,000 Bahrainis working in the private sector amid the Covid-19 crisis.

The legislation has been referred to the Shura Council for review and vote.

It is part of a government economic stimulus package worth BD4.3 billion to offset the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

“All of us are working to protect the interests of the country and people as we overcome this tough period that the world is facing,” said Shaikh Salman.

“The BD4.3bn package comprises one-third of the economy and the continuation of wages in the private sector is one aspect.

“It also involves doubling the liquidity funding and directing it to small companies, along with re-engineering Tamkeen’s support to small and medium enterprises and deferring loans among others – this will ensure we move ahead strong as we acknowledge that it is not everything.

“We will face new challenges and they will need to be met by the medical, legislative, Civil Defence, government, and military teams alongside the 30,000 volunteers who have registered.

“The private sector has stepped forward and I would like to thank the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry which has presented solutions to existing problems and details will be announced under a new separate package in the next few days.”

The BD4.3 billion package comprises eight initiatives including a waiver on electricity and water bills for all accounts – including individuals and commercial – for three months and a delay of bank loan instalments for six months for those impacted by the virus.

The other initiatives include doubling the Liquidity Fund to BD200 million, and exempting tourism facilities from tourism fees for three months among others.

Labour and Social Development Minister Jameel Humaidan, who was also present at yesterday’s session, said the BD215m will cover 93pc of Bahraini employees in the private sector.

“This will cover their wages and allowances,” he said.


“While we are looking for ways to help the rest such as those on non-compulsory social insurance like taxi drivers and driving instructors and others working in free vocations.

“The free vocations package is not clear to us and need to work on it, whether it is the financing aspect or the size.

“Any company that has forced its employees to go on annual leave has seen action from us.

“We will also continue to monitor the situation since we will be paying to ensure employees are not harmed. All workers in quarantine, isolation or stranded abroad are on paid leave until their humanitarian cases are resolved and they are cleared to return to work.”

The Shura Council’s services committee will meet the Finance and National Economy Minister today to discuss the new urgent legislation.



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