Bahrain souq traders snub Tamkeen revival plan
Manama, December 26, 2012
Traders in the Old Souq area of Bahrain have rejected Tamkeen's "outdated schemes" to revive businesses, adding that the majority were under debt and needed immediate and substantial financial assistance.
However, officials of Tamkeen, Bahrain’s labour fund, said they could not "magically" solve problems faced by traders following the financial downturn and last year's unrest, but pledged to set up programmes to help them get back on their feet, said a report in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.
It comes as the officials met traders in Bab Al Bahrain to discuss their issues and draw up strategic plans to tackle them.
"We are grateful Tamkeen officials have come to meet us and have offered help," said souq committee chairman Riyadh Taher Al Mahroos. "However, the schemes they have are not relevant to our demands and our problems."
He said businesses in the souq needed immediate financial assistance.
"We have to pay landlords, power bills, customs fees and municipality charges. Every day, businesses are shutting down and every day we have a new crisis," he added.
"No one comes to the souq anymore and the few who did have been scared away by daily road blocks and demonstrations in the area. Under these circumstances, we cannot work and progress."
Businessman Khalid Al Garatha said Tamkeen should have regular meetings with traders without going through the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) or any other body.
"We want to tell them our problems so that they can attempt to solve them for us," he said. "They have some programmes that are all short-term. We want help in the long term, so they have to make programmes especially for us."
BCCI retail and traditional markets committee head Jawad Al Hawaj said the souq crisis had reached its limit and should be solved before all businesses in the area lose out.
"The problem is now very serious and some small steps will not be enough to solve it," he said.” "We need serious efforts from all sides."
Tamkeen customer engagement senior manager Yousif Ali pledged to hand over the traders' demands to the management.
"We continuously update our programmes and will look at helping everyone," he said. "We do not have any magic potion but we are aware of the traders' problems and will have programmes that will suit them."
Ali admitted there were several issues affecting the area, many of them beyond Tamkeen's control. "However, we will attempt to redraw our schemes so that traders can be helped," he added. – TradeArabia News Service