Middle East news

Published: May 15, 2020

Quick actions, helps dull the pain

Bahrain looks set to benefit from its prompt reaction to the coronavirus pandemic and from its investment in economic activity that has become more essential during the global lockdown.

As it became clear that the outbreak of the coronavirus in China was threatening to become a global pandemic, Bahrain moved swiftly to both clamp down on the spread of Covid-19 and to offset the economic impact on businesses and employers.

It closed all educational establishments in late February and started to block flights from other countries, and a month later designated the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre as the main testing centre for the virus. The moves earned the praise of the World Health Organization whose regional director commended the kingdom for its “timely and effective preparedness and response effort”. As of mid-May, Bahrain had recorded 7,374 cases, approximately 3,000 recoveries, and twelve deaths.

“If you look at the government’s response since the announcement of the first case, it took quick and bold action that took everyone by surprise,” Ali Al Moulani, head of treasury at the National Bank of Bahrain, told EMEA Finance. “Taking early steps showed their mindfulness of what we were facing and how this could develop.”

In March the government unveiled measures worth US$11.4bn (BHD4.3bn) or 29.6% of GDP. The measures, which will generally last for three months, included extending Bahrain’s liquidity fund initiative, interest rate reductions, loan restructuring and salary support, rent decreases, and grants and utility relief for businesses. 

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