An urgent rescue package has been proposed to help Bahraini businesses that are struggling to recover from the economic impact of Covid-19.MPs yesterday called on the government to come up with financial support and fee waivers without delay, claiming that several businesses were facing the threat of closure and legal action.Five MPs, led by financial and economic affairs committee vice-chairman Jalal Kadhem, submitted the proposal, which listed gyms, spas and entertainment venues among the hardest-hit enterprises.“These businesses are yet to recover from losses incurred due to 18 months of closure and Covid-19 restrictions,” said Mr Kadhem.“They could soon be forced to shut down or face legal action,” he added.“Most of the owners have commercial registrations under their parents’ names and it is unfair to imprison the elderly or drag them to court.

We are speaking about gyms, spas and entertainment venues to name a few that have been suffering since the outbreak of the pandemic.”He added that an urgent rescue package was vital to help the businesses.“There are late bank instalments, rents and other financial commitments for business owners,” said Mr Kadhem.“The government could direct financial support to help with expenses, while also looking into labour, municipal, and electricity and water bill waivers.

“Any lifeline would be a boon at this point of time.”Bahrain had spent BD4.5 billion under the economic stimulus package introduced in March 2020 to offset the impact of Covid-19. The original BD4.3bn package from April to June 2020 was aimed at achieving economic stability and financial sustainability, before more money was pumped in by the government. It paid the wages of Bahraini employees in the private sector through the Unemployment Fund. The government also waived municipal, tourism and labour fees as well as rents on its properties for three months.

Grants for affected businesses were distributed through Tamkeen, while others were given low-interest loans under the Liquidity Fund, which was doubled from BD100 million to BD200m. Bank loan instalments for Bahrainis were also deferred without any interest charges.Meanwhile, Parliament unanimously approved an urgent request by 10 MPs to hold an open debate to discuss rising prices on February 7.

Bahrain’s legislators are seeking measures to tackle inflation in the presence of ministers and senior government officials.MP Mohammed Al Marafi, who is spearheading the request, claimed that the increase in prices of basic commodities was posing an ‘unprecedented burden’ on citizens.

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