The Government of Bahrain’s social support infrastructure, including subsidies and financial aid to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kingdom provides citizens with a range of support programmes, including subsidies covering electricity and water, food, education, and more. This is in addition to numerous social safety nets, such as support for widows and needy families, the unemployed, and the elderly. These include support from the Ministry of Social Development, the Royal Humanitarian Foundation (RHF), and direct government aid aimed at keeping the price of commodities low.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government unveiled a BD 4.3 billion economic stimulus packages, which was expanded in April 2020 to cover more categories and sectors. Steps taken to ensure society’s most vulnerable can survive and thrive during these difficult times included the Feena Khair charity drive to support needy families; subsidies and waivers related to electricity and water and municipality fees; and financial support for businesses, particularly those most vulnerable to the economic fallout of the pandemic.
This support included:
The subsidies and financial aid provided align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 of eradicating poverty by helping vulnerable individuals, including widows, families in need, the unemployed, and the elderly, to cope with the economic challenges brought about by the pandemic.
Led by the Representative of His Majesty the King for Humanitarian and Youth Affairs, National Security Advisor and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Humanitarian Foundation (RHF), HH Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the Feena Khair campaign is a national effort to collect funds from individual and corporate donors and redistribute them to protect the most vulnerable members of Bahrain’s society against the financial impact of the pandemic. More than BD37.7 million was collected through various platforms, including the website of the Royal Humanitarian Foundation (RHF).
A decision by the Government’s Executive Committee, chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander, and First Deputy Prime Minister, entrusted the Royal Humanitarian Fund (RHF) with forming a committee to oversee the distribution of funds raised through “Feena Khair”. The RHF, in cooperation with the Information & eGovernment Authority (iGA), launched a new service allowing individuals belonging to the entitled categories to register for support via the National Portal, bahrain.bh.
The RHF worked in coordination with the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Ministry of Social Development and other relevant institutions to track families affected by COVID-19 and provide them with necessary support during this crisis.
The RFH formed a coordination committee to ensure the funds go to deserving members of society who meet a rigorous set of criteria. These include employees of businesses most affected, such as school bus drivers, hospitality industry workers, and members of the Ministry of Social Development’s Productive Families Project, whose business came to a virtual halt.
The Government unveiled a stimulus package which included the automatic payment of individuals’ and businesses’ electricity and water utility bills for three months from April 2020 (up to the value incurred during the same period in 2019), while also restructuring government administrative costs to offset the additional expenses.
This was extended for a further three months from July for all Bahraini citizens, covering their primary residences. In September, this was extended again until the end of the year.
The move implemented directives by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to help minimise the financial burden caused by the pandemic, and to help the country continue on its path towards sustainable development.
The Labour Fund (Tamkeen), a government agency tasked with developing Bahrain’s private sector and positioning it as a driver of economic growth, launched a Business Continuity Support Programme to help minimise the pandemic’s impact on businesses. The initiative, which received more than 17,000 applications, was a major component of the economic stimulus packages announced by the Government of Bahrain early in 2020.
In line with directives by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the programme offered financial support to adversely affected small and micro enterprises provided they met certain eligibility criteria:
The disbursements began in April 2020 and continued for three months. Certain industries that were more severely impacted, such as the hospitality sector, enjoyed further Tamkeen support following the initial disbursements.
The initiative contributes to SDG 8's objective of promoting decent work and economic growth by offering financial support to adversely affected small and micro-enterprises, thus helping to sustain businesses and employment during challenging times.
During these unprecedented times, having a place to call home takes on even greater importance. The Government of Bahrain announced a six-month deferment of government housing loans in June 2020 to support families facing hardships due to COVID-19.
The matter was discussed at a Cabinet session chaired by the late Prime Minister HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and attended by HRH the Crown Prince, who then held the position of Deputy Prime Minister.
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Content Last Updated: 08 Aug, 2023