GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR THE ECONOMIC SECTOR

Dalal Binhijji
Head of Media and Communication
Bin Faqeeh Real Estate Investment Company

In these unprecedented times, there is no doubt that economies all over the world have been affected by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are a number of countries across the world which were able to lend a helping hand for citizens, while others were unable to do so, not because they did not want to help, but simply for the mere fact that the crisis exceeded all expectations and circumstances.

The Kingdom of Bahrain is one of the countries that has strived with all its efforts to provide different types of support and assistance to its citizens and economic sectors. Under the directives of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa instructions were mandated to the enhancement of the economic sector and as well, in order to create social stability in the face of the ramifications of the pandemic, under the leadership of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

A financial and economic aid package was launched in March of 2020, worth 4.3 billion BD, in support of the private sector, geared towards the sectors which were most affected by the pandemic. This has been provided in order to continue the sustainable development of Bahrain, as well as protecting the health and safety of the public, which remains one of the top priorities of the government.

Due to these royal decrees, the Kingdom of Bahrain implemented a number of new measures to support citizens and fuel the national economy, which began last April. One of the steps taken by the government was suspending payments for electricity, water and municipal bills for citizens until the end of the year. Another step taken by the government, through the Unemployment Insurance Fund, guaranteed the payment of salaries of insured citizens in the private sector for a period of three months, and by 50% in the next three months for sectors that were most affected, in addition to doubling the volume of the liquidity fund to 200 million BD in order to support small and medium enterprises, exempting commercial enterprises from municipal fees and tourist establishments from tourism fees, expanding lending facilities and stopping loan instalment payments, as well as halting the monthly Labour Market Regulatory Authority fees and issuing and renewing work permits fees. Sectors and businesses that were most affected by the pandemic were also highlighted to the Labour Fund (Tamkeen), which also contributed to achieving stability and job security for national workers.

These measures were continued by the government to ensure the continuity of development in Bahrain, and to highlight its commitment to social and economic stability. The increase in the volume of direct government support in the state’s general budget reached over 586 BD in 2020, and an expenditure of five programs for direct government support was distributed monthly to eligible citizens starting in February 2020 was also issued.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Development, which includes social security assistance, issuing stipends for people with disabilities as well as offering financial support for low income families and monetary compensation, also played a part in supporting the local economy and overall well-being during the pandemic. In addition, a housing allowance was also issued for citizens who have been on the housing request waiting list for five years, as well as the creation of 15 indirect support programs in the sectors of education, health, electricity, social insurance, and others, as well as the government’s continuation of its social responsibilities in enhancing the sustainability and quality of health, educational and housing services, and the continued financing of development projects and infrastructure that stimulate the growth of the business environment and serve citizens played a vital role in the overall strategy of governmental support during the pandemic.

The Kingdom of Bahrain, thanks to the humanitarian approach of His Majesty the King, and within the framework of constructive cooperation between the executive and legislative authorities, continues to progress and develop in both supporting the economy and taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of citizens and residents, has created a global model to be followed in promoting the maintenance of public health and safety, and limiting the repercussions of the spread of the virus, placing it at the forefront of its priorities, which is to improve the standard of living and to develop the health, educational and social services available, which falls in line with the government’s program to achieve sustainable economic and social security, geared towards the Economic Vision 2030.

This article was published as part of the sixth edition of Property Finder Bahrain’s Trends Report.