Bahrain’s top businessmen have warned of imminent bankruptcies if street violence and protests continue, adding that foreign investments could ‘dry up’ if authorities cannot bring back law and order to the country.
The Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has also demanded an immediate investigation be launched into attacks on local businesses.
‘The BCCI calls upon the Interior Ministry to immediately arrest perpetrators of violence and those behind attacks on several businesses and launch a full investigation into such acts,’ said a BCCI statement.
‘Businesses in Bahrain have suffered major losses in the last few months and the present spate of demonstrations; sit-ins, legal and illegal rallies and acts of sabotage and vandalism have had serious consequences and continue to have a detrimental effect. This has got to stop.’
The statement warned that investors could pull out of the country if such violence continues.
‘This could have catastrophic effects on Bahrain’s economy, which is already reeling,’ it added.
‘Whether it is assaults on security men, streets being closed or even businesses being targeted purely on sectarian grounds, no civil society can tolerate this. We have to work together to ensure this ends as soon as possible to help get confidence back in business and the country’s economy.’
Family businesses and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were the worst hit by the unrest, as some were being forced to make ‘harsh decisions’, said the chamber.
The BCCI has urged Tamkeen to come to the rescue of such businesses and offer financial support in a bid to regain economic stability.
‘It is important that all these steps are taken so that everyone in Bahrain could return to their normal lives,’ added the statement. Businessmen had last week warned the country could face an economic catastrophe unless action was taken to stop ongoing street violence.
BCCI second vice-chairman Abdulhameed Al Kooheji and board member Jawad Al Hawaj said hundreds of jobs could be at risk, particularly among SMEs if the campaign of tyre burning and Molotov cocktail attacks on police continues.
They said failure to act would also have serious consequences for those who lose their jobs and their families and a long-term affect on the country’s psyche. They said for many it was a choice between laying people off and staying in business or closing down.