Transparency Demanded from Liquidity Fund, Quota for Small Traders
2020-04-29 - 10:35 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): A decision was made to double the Liquidity Fund in order to cope with the Coronavirus repercussions on the private sector, while the process of approval of applications lacks transparency, and small traders demand a "Quota" for their projects that have been the most affected by the virus.
The Liquidity Fund has been doubled from 100 million dinars to 200 million dinars to support more companies so they could manage to meet financial challenges in light of the Coronavirus outbreak, an official statement confirmed.
The statement said that the Fund had reviewed all applications for financial facilitations.
Figures revealed that the Fund approved 297 applications worth 80 million dinars, noting that work is still ongoing to decide on other applications, after the door of applications was closed on March 19.
The Fund's last statement, January 29, indicated that it approved to finance six large companies and 24 small enterprises.
According to Fund standards, large companies receive up to 1 million dinars, while small and medium-sized enterprises receive assistance amounting up to 250,000 dinars.
Small entrepreneurs say they need to increase the amount of aid they receive.
"More transparency is needed ... Most shopkeepers in Manama market and small malls were affected and their savings are running out," said a shop owner in the old market.
Speaking to Bahrain Mirror, he said it is necessary to start supporting those who were more affected by the situation such as small traders.
"Many small traders have applied for financial facilitations from the Fund. It's not about the future of their projects anymore, it's about their livelihood."
Shops in the old market and complexes have been closed since health measures were tightened to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
There are no official figures that reveal the losses of shopkeepers as a result of market closures.
"At the end of last year, I received large goods from East Asia worth more than 50,000 dinars, but business life stopped at the beginning of the year," says a textile merchant.
The Minister of Finance and National Economy Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa did not mention the amount of aid small businesses will receive, especially after doubling the amount.
Traders are demanding a quota for SMEs as large-scale entrepreneurs are eager to obtain financing facilitations.
But Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Samir Nass believes that doubling the size of the fund "will fortify SMEs and ensure their stability and performance."
The Minister of Industry and Trade Zayed Al-Zayani says that "increasing the size of the fund aims at supporting small and medium enterprises."
The Fund did not publish details about their classifications for financial facilitations based on the size of the entity.
The fair distribution of the funds would give a boost to the stability of small businesses that have been significantly affected over the past few years.
The financial crisis led many entrepreneurs to imprisonment or liquidating their projects.
Many economies deem SMEs as a key focus of economic growth and diversification of production.