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EU-backed funds to support companies in Palestine impacted by COVID-19

June 3, 2020 at 3:06 pm

Closed shops are seen at an empty street after a curfew was announced by authorities as a measure against coronavirus (COVID-19), in Nablus, West Bank on 23 March 2020 [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu Agency]

A new initiative has been launched by the European-Palestinian Credit Guarantee Foundation (EPCGF) to improve access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the wake of the economic crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.

The  EPCGF partner banks will be offering loans worth around 65 million shekels ($18.7 million) through new programmes specifically aimed at providing relief to companies suffering coronavirus-related disruptions to their cash flows, and the period of recovery which will follow.

The Managing Director of EPCGF, Raed Kafity, said: “As the COVID-19 pandemic in Palestine has negatively impacted the SME sector like elsewhere, EPCGF has taken the initiative of developing a tailored product programme to encourage its partner banks to ease the SME access to finance, help them to sustain their operations and retain their employment during these difficult times.”

Severe restrictions imposed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to prevent the spread of the coronavirus have resulted in the closure of most businesses in the occupied West Bank.

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Palestinian economic experts warned that the restrictions, which included curfews on some Palestinian communities, would aggravate the economic crisis in the West Bank and pose a major challenge to the PA government.

This is especially after a state of emergency was declared in the occupied West Bank, restricting movement between the Palestinian governorates and cities and decisions issued by the Palestinian government regarding the return of Palestinian workers from within the Green Line to the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem, given the fact that the coronavirus had spread greatly amongst the Israeli population.

On the occasion of the launch, the German Representative Christian Clages said: “EPCGF has a proven track record to support small and medium enterprises. We are proud to support this new initiative and hope it will benefit hundreds of small entrepreneurs and businesses and will help them to survive the crisis.”

The European Union Head of Cooperation Gerhard Krause added: “This EPCGF initiative is a very timely undertaking that demonstrates dynamism and ability to adapt of the Palestinian private sector. We are pleased to see that our support to EPCGF can help ease liquidity pressures on companies that are under stress now.”

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