The Kingdom of Bahrain is to support the wages of 100,000 of its citizens working in the private sector with a $570 million relief initiative covering April, May and June 2020. Employers can register for the aid via an online portal launched today (Wednesday April 8 2020).
The Kingdom’s Minister of Labour and Social Development, Jamil Humaidan, said the government guarantee is part of liquidity for the private sector to help mitigate the social and economic impacts of the current global health crisis. The assistance will also maintain the growth of the private sector and enhance its vital role in supporting the national economy.
The initiative is part of a COVID-19 private sector economic support program worth more than $11 billion. In addition to wage support, initiatives announced by the Ministry of Finance and National Economy include the government sponsoring electricity and water bills for all subscribers, exempting commercial institutions from municipal fees, exempting industrial and commercial institutions industrial land rental fees, and exempting tourist establishment and facilities from tourism fees. The program also includes doubling the size of the Kingdom’s liquidity fund to $530 million.
The online portal is the latest use of digital by the Kingdom to support the private sector during the ongoing global health crisis, following the introduction of distance learning and digital access to essential services. As part of ongoing economic diversification, countries in the region – including Bahrain – have invested heavily in fostering their own digital economies, enabling a rapid response to the pandemic and minimising disruption to business.
Other GCC members are similarly turning to technology to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, such as Saudi Arabia, which has urgently expanded digital services, and the Dubai International Financial Centre, which is holding a series of virtual events for the business community.