March 28, 2011 / 4:26 PM / 7 years ago

Support for Bahrain's small businesses needed-c. bank

DUBAI, March 28 (Reuters) - Bahrain’s central bank governor met with top executives of the kingdom’s lenders on Monday, telling them to make sure that small and mid-sized businesses aren’t hurt by ongoing political turmoil.

Earlier this month, Bahrain’s rulers imposed martial law in the Gulf Arab island kingdom and called in troops from fellow Sunni-ruled Gulf neighbours to quell weeks of unrest during pro-democracy demonstrations.

Governor Rasheed al-Maraj, meeting with chief executives of retail banks, said in a statement that the central bank was ready to cooperate to ensure “the continuity of banking operations to all economic sectors and individuals which will contribute to Bahrain’s economic growth and help mitigate any negative impact from the recent political situation”.

The political turmoil, which started in February, triggered a series of downgrades by rating agencies and sent debt insurance costs for Bahrain, where nearly $10 billion in mutual funds were parked last year, to 20-month highs.

The banks are willing to cooperate with customers to reschedule or restructure any debt if needed to reduce financial burdens on their businesses, according to the statement. (Reporting by Martina Fuchs; Editing by Ron Askew)

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