H.E Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, UAE Minister of Economy, reviewed a detailed report on the progress of efforts undertaken by the Interim Committee to Deal with the Impact of COVID-19 on the National Economy, during the Committee’s fifth virtual meeting, which was chaired by His Excellency.
H.E was briefed on the economic and financial implications of all the measures adopted by the federal and local governments over the past months since the onset of the pandemic, and the extent of their effectiveness in supporting the country’s business continuity during these times.
The meeting was attended by H.E Eng. Mohammed Bin Abdul Aziz Al Shehhi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy for Economic Affairs; H.E. Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al Saleh, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade Affairs; H.E Younis Haji Al Khoori, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance; H.E Saif Ahmed Al Suwaidi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation for Human Resources Affairs; H.E. Saif Hadef Al-Shamsi, Deputy Governor of the UAE Central Bank; Dr. Said Ali Bahbouh, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice; H.E Rashid Al Balooshi, Undersecretary of Department of Economic Development Abu Dhabi; H.E Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of Dubai Economy.
H.E Bin Touq said that the Interim Committee continues its efforts to support the developments in the country’s economic environment and ensure that it benefits from the most recent measures, initiatives and stimulus packages announced by the Government. Furthermore, the Committee is continuously measuring their success in developing sustainable and practical policies and solutions that suit the needs of the business sector and contribute to its speedy recovery. He affirmed that the Ministry and its partners in the Committee will directly and periodically assess the implementation of packages and initiatives and will stand by all efforts to support business activities and develop the economy.
H.E clarified that the measures taken by the members of the Committee were divided into several axes, the most prominent of which are: protecting bank customers from individuals and companies; protecting the economic structure; stimulating and supporting the tourism and foreign trade sectors; easing burdens on individuals and private sector institutions and continuing spending on infrastructure projects to drive development, supporting national industries, and the measures taken by the governments of Abu Dhabi and Dubai and local governments to support the business sector in all Emirates.
H.E. Saif Hadef Al Shamsi, Deputy Governor of the UAE Central Bank, explained the measures introduced by the Bank in detail, which helped many of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) continue their operations during the crisis, provided facilities for real estate buyers and improved liquidity of banks to meet the requests for lending and deferred payments.
According to Central Bank’s data included in the report, as of July 18, banks had withdrawn AED 43.6 billion, which is equivalent to 87.2 per cent of the AED 50 billion Targeted Economic Support Scheme provided by the Central Bank. Banks used 95 per cent of them (AED 41.42 billion) to postpone loan payments for the affected sectors, registering an increase of about 37.6 per cent compared to the amount used at the beginning of last June. A total of 26 banks benefited from the support provided, of which 17 banks withdrew 100 per cent of their share (compared to 15 banks in the beginning of June). The total number of affected clients that benefited from the support stands at 272,382, which is twice the number that was registered in the beginning of June.
Moreover, according to the report, the total amount that SMEs benefited from reached AED 4.1 billion, an increase of 28.1 per cent compared to 3.2 billion in the beginning of June. This amount represents 9.3 per cent of the total amount that all affected sectors benefited from. The number of SMEs that benefitted also increased from 7,440 companies in the beginning of June to 9,527 in July 18, with an increase of 28 per cent.
As for individuals, the number of beneficiaries reached 260,616, representing an increase of 110 per cent compared to their number in the beginning of June 2020. The financial value of the support that this category benefited from amounted to AED 3.2 billion, which is double of what was recorded at the beginning of last month. With regard to private sector companies, they benefitted from a total of AED 33.7 billion.
In addition, the report pointed out that the measures introduced by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization included financial and administrative support packages ensuring wage protection, development of a virtual labor market and an insurance system as an alternative to bank guarantee. It further indicated that these measures contributed to supporting the affected sectors, providing additional stimulus to the economy and lowering operating costs on private sector enterprises, while also preserving the role of nationals in the labor market, protecting jobs, and facilitating the setting up of businesses.
In this context, H.E Saif Ahmed Al Suwaidi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation for Human Resources Affairs, stated that the Ministry repaid about AED 8.3 billion of bank guarantees to employers, which represents about 50 per cent of the total bank guarantees until the end of last June after their owners met the conditions required. This was in line with the decision of the UAE Cabinet to cancel bank guarantees and replace them with the employment insurance system, which has contributed greatly to supporting business continuity and ensuring salaries for workers in the private sector.
In the same context, the report also highlighted the recommendations made by the Ministry of Economy to stimulate the tourism sector that target supporting liquidity allocated to tourism sector facilities within the declared support packages. They were also aimed at reducing operational costs of hotel establishments, reviving domestic tourism, and following security, safety and sterilization standards to enhance the confidence of tourists and reduce safety concerns when restoring international visitor traffic.
H.E Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of Dubai Economy, said: “The incentive packages launched by the Government of Dubai under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, were distinguished by their timeliness and their coverage across many vital sectors in the emirate, and it has contributed to facilitating and supporting business continuity. Dubai Economy is keen to follow the directives of our wise leadership as reflected by our extending of the renewal of commercial licenses without mandatory renewal of rental contracts, and abolishing the necessity for initial payment to accept the installment of government fees for licensing and renewal of the license, in addition to exemption from fees imposed on conducting discounts and offers.”