KUWAIT: SME owners, supporters, and advocates meet with First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheikh Hamad Al-Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah.

KUWAIT: Kuwait's SME owners have been invited to various meetings with officials in response to the recent protest that took place by Kuwaiti entrepreneurs and owners of small enterprises against the decision made by the government to close various sectors of businesses during the partial lockdown.

A series of meetings were conducted between various SME owners, supporters, and advocates with state officials including Marzouq Al-Ghanem, Speaker of National Assembly, Sheikh Hamad Al-Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, and Mohammad Al-Saqer, President of Kuwait's Chamber of Commerce and Industry in addition to other officials discussing various solutions for the SME crisis in Kuwait.

Dawood Marafie

In an official statement, Dawood Marafie, former Chairman of the Association of SMEs in Kuwait, and one of the protestors who supported the calls of SME owners, stated that a list of requests and proposals were provided in the meetings with the officials including:

1- Reopening all closed commercial activities while ensuring the implementation of the state's health guidelines. Businesses that violate the health restrictions are to be closed.

2- Compensate suspended businesses by:

- Paying the salaries registered in the system of the Public Authority for Manpower in Kuwait.

- Paying the businesses' rents that are registered under the Public Authority of Manpower or Civil Information.

- Exempt the businesses from electricity, water, telecommunication, membership fees of the Ashal program of the workforce, Kuwaiti allowance, residence fees, stamp fees, license renewal fees, municipality fees (billboards, health cards for workers, and any other fees related to activities), and from all state fees related to closed activities.

3- Postpone the installments of the Industrial Bank and the National Fund for a period of one to two years without carrying over the interest, and this support will continue throughout the closing period and for a year after reopening the activities.

Marafie praised the efforts of the SME owners in Kuwait who are currently exploring various solutions with the officials to the crisis. He also explained that the recovery and survival of this sector cannot be sustained through the government only. Other entities such as the private sector, international grantees and organizations, and civil societies must be involved. Accordingly, a recovery plan is being drafted and will be presented to the government, private sector entities, and international grantees for support.