KRG Prime Minister Emphasises Importance of Robust Banking System and Small-Medium Sized Businesses
On Monday, September 25, 2023, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) unveiled Project Gashanawa (Shine), a significant initiative aimed at providing commercial loans through private banks to bolster small and medium sized businesses striving to expand their operations.
Addressing a gathering of attendees at the project launch event, Prime Minister Barzani underscored the project's role in the government's broader plans and initiatives to foster commerce. He stressed that the private sector, working in cooperation with the public sector, has been pivotal over recent years in advancing the economic infrastructure of the Kurdistan Region.
In his speech, Prime Minister Barzani began by acknowledging the historical significance of the day, coinciding with the anniversary of the Kurdistan Region's victory in the face of oppression and injustice [the sixth anniversary of the Independence Referendum]. He noted that remnants of this struggle persist today, with some still challenging the Kurdish people's right to express themselves freely, a right inherent to every nation.
Prime Minister Barzani expressed the region's commitment to peaceful coexistence, freedom, and mutual respect among nations. He highlighted the importance of equality, justice, and love as the foundations for commitment and loyalty to a country. He emphasised that a prosperous and harmonious nation can only be built on these principles.
Reflecting on his recent visit to Baghdad, the Prime Minister emphasised that commitment to Iraq should be based on mutual respect, equality, and justice rather than fear or coercion. He called for all regions within Iraq to be treated equitably, with growth and progress in one part of the country benefiting all.
The highlight of the event was the announcement of Project Gashanawa, part of the KRG's ongoing efforts to support small and medium sized businesses seeking expansion through access to commercial loans from private banks.
Prime Minister Barzani emphasised that a thriving private sector is essential for a robust economy, and that it hinges on the presence of a strong and efficient banking system that facilitates economic and commercial development. In the Kurdistan Region, small and medium sized businesses account for over 50% of private sector activities and employment, yet they face challenges in accessing the necessary financial support to grow.
Recognising the importance of a modern and supportive banking system, the government has prioritised strengthening the banking sector and supporting small and medium sized businesses since the inception of the Ninth Cabinet. Project Gashanawa, overseen by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, will provide loans of up to 150 million Iraqi dinars to entrepreneurs eager to expand their businesses. Applicants can easily access loan information and submit applications through a digital portal.
The project represents a significant milestone as it marks the first time the KRG is extending commercial loans through reliable institutions and private banks. Additionally, it introduces a groundbreaking approach of considering the strength of private businesses as the primary indicator for loan approval, eliminating the need for collateral, thereby fostering a more conducive environment for private sector growth.
Prime Minister Barzani expressed his profound gratitude to all stakeholders and collaborators, particularly the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Business Development Team, the Department of Information Technology, the World Bank, Top Mountain Company, the International Organization for Migration, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
In closing, Prime Minister Barzani reassured entrepreneurs that the government's primary focus is on empowering and supporting the private sector. Through collaboration with the KRG, he expressed optimism that the economic infrastructure of the Kurdistan Region will be fortified, resulting in improved services for its people. He concluded with his best wishes for a more prosperous Kurdistan.