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Sun 29 Mar 2015 01:34 PM

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Bahrain vows to clamp down on abuse of business support fund

Gov't agency Tamkeen resumes activities 6 months after it suspended funding programmes amid claims of abuse

Bahrain vows to clamp down on abuse of business support fund
(Getty Images)

A government agency that offers financial support to businesses in Bahrain has pledged to crack down on abuse of some of its funds.

Tamkeen has resumed activities six months after it suspended funding programmes to undergo a restructure amid claims of abuse.

But the Bahrain government agency has vowed to keep fighting any instances of abuse, and claims to have put in place new measures to prevent people from cheating the system.

The total amount of money that had been subject to abuse last year was BD100,000 (US$265,000), Tamkeen’s chairman and acting chief executive Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa reportedly told Gulf Daily News.

Prosecutions had been brought against perpetrators of abuse, he said, but such cases had not been as widespread as people thought.

“It is only a very small percentage of people who try to abuse the system, about which we are vigilant and will ensure that they are prosecuted,” Al Khalifa was quoted as saying.

The misappropriation of funds by a minority of unscrupulous applicants should not prevent genuine cases receiving business support, he added.

“We stopped certain programmes we felt were being abused and last year sent people to the Public Prosecution, of which many were prosecuted, while others are in the court process.

“It's a continuous process and we want people to be assured that we will fight anyone who tries to abuse the system, prosecuting [them] to the fullest extent.”

Tamkeen has an annual budget of close to BD77 million (US$204 million) – excluding operational expenses – and lists more than 100,000 beneficiaries since its inception in 2006, including 70,000 individuals and 30,000 private companies, according to the newspaper.

Al Khalifa reportedly said Tamkeel had closed various loopholes in the fund application process following its relaunch.

“It's difficult to determine what fraud is, as, in certain cases, a business may have a legal license to run the business it has projected but the look and feel of it may not be right,” he was quoted as saying.

“For example, (previously) a person might apply for (help) running a marketing business and operate it from a car garage - legally it is a proper marketing company doing marketing, but there was a loophole.”

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