By Gavin Gibbon
Programme will also be used to offer help to low-income families during coronavirus pandemic
The Saudi Social Development Bank (SDB) has announced a SR12 billion ($3.2bn) programme to support start-ups and small enterprises, as well as families on low incomes, during the current coronavirus pandemic.
According to a report by the Saudi Press Agency, a total of 100,000 small income families will benefit with an increase of SR4bn ($1.1bn) in SDB’s support for the year.
The bank has also increased its level of support for micro and small enterprises to the tune of SR2bn ($533m), which is expected to benefit up to 6,000 entrepreneurs.
While SR2bn has been allocated to provide financial support to 1,000 small and medium health facilities and a further SR2bn to 50,000 “small establishments”.
The bank will implement the programme, with the support of the National Development Fund (NDF).
In addition to this, the grace period for all projects funded during 2019 and 2020 has been extended for an additional six months, bringing the total value of the deferred premiums to SR2bn.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Real Estate Development Fund (REDF) has earmarked $327.5m in the ‘Sakari’ programme for March.
General Supervisor of REDF Mansour bin Madhi told a press conference that almost $106m had been allocated to support the profits of subsidised real estate contracts, around $246.6m for beneficiaries of the military support initiative and $32.4m for the civilian support initiative.
To combat the impact of the virus, on Friday Saudi Arabia announced a $32bn emergency stimulus package to help businesses and boost the economy.
Measures to help businesses include exemptions and postponements of some government fees and taxes, as well as a $13.32bn package to help banks and SMEs impacted by the coronavirus.
Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has approved raising the kingdom’s debt ceiling from 30 percent to 50 percent of its GDP.
The kingdom is set to implement a 21-day curfew, from 7pm to 6am, from Monday, after the number of confirmed coronavirus cases hit 511.