Tuesday, October 26, 2021

    Bahrain approves financial and economic support for sectors affected by COVID-19

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    His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, chaired the weekly Cabinet meeting, held remotely.

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    The Cabinet commended HM the King’s continued support for national efforts to combat COVID-19 and safeguard the health of all, led by HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister. The Cabinet further commended the royal directives of HM the King to launch a financial and economic stimulus package to protect livelihoods and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

    The Cabinet reviewed latest updates on the COVID-19 Delta variant and highlighted the importance of adhering to all precautionary measures, getting vaccinated and receiving a booster dose, in line with the National Medical Taskforce’s recommendations.

    The Cabinet welcomed the Kingdom’s adoption of the second follow-up report on combating money laundering and terrorist financing, and on implementing international standards, during the Middle East and North African Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) meeting. The Cabinet noted that these steps reflect the Kingdom’s efforts and the role played by the Committee for combating extremism, terrorism, money laundering and its financing. 

    The Cabinet further welcomed the World Health Organization’s adoption of “Manama Healthy City 2021”, international recognition of government plans, programmes and efforts in the area of health and social development, stressing ongoing efforts and programmes to expand the number of health-promoting locations in the Kingdom.

    The Cabinet extended congratulations to the leadership, government and citizens of the United Arab Emirates, on its election as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the period 2022-2023, acknowledgment by the international community of its contribution to strengthening global security and stability.

    The cabinet discussed a number of memorandums during the meeting and outlined the following outcomes:

    Firstly: The approval of the following memorandums:

    1. In line with the Royal Directives to launch a financial and economic stimulus package designed to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, and preserve the Kingdom’s sustainable development, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and Prime Minister is to oversee the implementation of the Royal Directives across the relevant authorities in developing appropriate solutions to support the mostly impacted sectors. A number of support initiatives within the existing financial and economic package will be extended for an additional 3 months from June 2021 to August 2021, set out as follows:

    • The salaries of insured Bahraini private sector employees working in impacted sectors will be paid through the Unemployment Insurance Fund for a period of 3 months, 100% for the first month and 50% for the second and third months.

    • Exempting companies impacted by COVID-19 from paying municipal fees for a period of 3 months.

    • Exempting tourist establishments and facilities from paying tourism fees for a period of 3 months.

    • Extension of the Tamkeen Labor Fund Business Continuity Support program for companies impacted by COVID-19 for a period of 3 months.

    • Exempting tenants of government properties including government owned companies from the payment of rent for a period of 3 months.

    • Exempting companies impacted by COVID-19 from paying the commercial registration renewal fees for the year 2021.

    • Re-opening of applications to the liquidity fund, with a focus on small and medium-sized companies.

    This is in addition to the already announced extension of the option to defer loan repayments for a period of six months.

    These measures are to be introduced following the review of a memorandum by the Ministerial Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs and Fiscal Balance.

    2. A memorandum by the Ministerial Committee for Development and Infrastructure Projects on the Unified Guide for the Management of Hazardous Chemicals in the Kingdom of Bahrain, which was approved according to the unified system in GCC countries, and aims to ensure proper handling of hazardous chemicals with reactive properties and standardise the procedures for their transfer between ministries and government regulatory agencies.

    3. A memorandum by the Minister of Interior regarding cooperation between the Financial Intelligence Department in the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Afghan Unit, on the exchange of financial information related to money laundering, associated criminal conduct and the financing of terrorism, to collect, prepare, analyze and exchange information.

    4. A memorandum by the Minister of Foreign Affairs regarding the request for approval of an MoU between the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Government of the Republic of Seychelles on the mutual recognition of COVID-19 certificates of vaccination and recovery, to facilitate the movement of citizens and residents between the two countries whilst ensuring the health and safety of all.

    5. A memorandum by the Minister of Finance and National Economy regarding the signing of the GCC agreement on the cross-border payment system link the GCC countries, in line with decisions of the Supreme Council at its forty-first session, to ensure the rapid, unified and safe transfer of financial payments, and to enhance bilateral trade between the countries of the Council.

    6. A memorandum by the Minister of Finance and National Economy regarding the Kingdom’s participation in an International Monetary Fund initiative to provide debt relief to the Republic of Sudan under the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, which aims to support Sudan’s efforts to reduce its poverty, support sustainable growth and address development challenges.

    7. A memorandum by the Ministerial Committee for Legal and Legislative Affairs regarding the government’s responses to 10 proposals submitted by the Council of Representatives.

    Secondly: The cabinet reviewed the following topic:

    1. A memorandum by the Minister of Foreign Affairs regarding the implementation of the Cabinet’s decisions to establish a central register of treaties, agreements and MoUs in force between the Kingdom of Bahrain and  other countries, as well as regional and international organisations.

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