UAE investment law to apply selectively, won’t hurt locals -officials

A picture taken on March 14, 2018 shows the skyline of Dubai with the Burj Al-Arab (R) in the foreground and Burj Khalifa (L) in the background. (AFP)
Updated 08 October 2018
0

UAE investment law to apply selectively, won’t hurt locals -officials

DUBAI: A new law allowing 100 percent foreign ownership of companies in the United Arab Emirates will only apply to some sectors of the economy, limiting the risk that it could disrupt existing business, Dubai investment officials told Reuters.
The UAE cabinet, chaired by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, said in May that it would permit 100 percent foreign ownership of some UAE-based businesses, up from the current 49 percent limit, by the end of 2018.
Few details of the law have been revealed so far. But Raed Safadi, chief economic adviser at Dubai’s Department of Economic Development, said on Monday that it would only apply to “strategic sectors” of the economy.
This means it will not damage the interests of UAE citizens who currently benefit from acting as silent partners in foreign-invested businesses, Safadi said.
In fact, the new law will create opportunities for UAE citizens because “they have a lot to offer in terms of knowledge of local markets, the networks and the connectivity,” he added.
Fahad Al-Gergawi, chief executive of the Dubai Investment Development Agency, said: “We are not targeting the sleeping partners’ businesses, because these are small businesses. We are targeting strategic, impactful businesses which will leave their fingerprints on the economy and create a meaningful impact on jobs, technology, and boost imports and exports.”
Special business areas in Dubai known as “free zones,” which already permit 100 percent foreign ownership, could also be affected by the new law, because they will lose one of their unique advantages.
Safadi said, however, that Dubai’s free zones had unique business models which made them individually attractive, and that they were adjusting to “structural pressures” presented by the new law.
Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Center, a free zone focused on commodities trade, said free zones were diverse enough to cope with the law.
“You are looking at a big market, representing over 15,000 businesses, and almost 100,000 people live and work there...People go there not just for the 100 percent ownership and the tax-free facilities that we provide; they go there to be connected to the market, to not miss out,” he said.
Foreign direct investment commitments to Dubai rose 26 percent from a year earlier to $4.84 billion in the first half of 2018, according to official data.


Lebanon’s Hariri calls for cabinet solidarity in budget debate

Updated 18 June 2019
0

Lebanon’s Hariri calls for cabinet solidarity in budget debate

  • The PM said cabinet ministers need to be united and responsible
  • Lebanon’s debt is almost 150% of its GDP

BEIRUT, June 18 : Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri on Tuesday called for parliament to quickly approve the country’s 2019 budget and urged his coalition government to avoid internal disputes.
The cabinet this month agreed a budget plan that shrinks the projected fiscal deficit by 4 percentage points from last year to 7.6% by cutting spending and raising taxes and other fees.
“What I want during the debate is for us to be responsible and united, and not contradictory,” Hariri said in a statement, addressing cabinet ministers as to their comportment during the parliament debate.
Parliament’s finance committee is debating the draft budget and has suggested amendments, local newspapers reported. It will then put the budget to the full assembly to ratify it.
Parliament is mostly composed of parties that are also present in the coalition government and which supported the budget there.
Since the budget was agreed there have been fierce arguments between parties in the coalition over several subjects, though these have not targeted the budget.
Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest debt burdens, equivalent to about 150% of GDP, and the International Monetary Fund has urged it to cut spending.
“We have held 19 cabinet meetings to agree on this draft budget and these sessions were not for fun, but for deep, detailed debate over every clause and every idea,” Hariri said.
“For this reason, I consider it the responsibility of each of us in government to have ministerial solidarity...to defend in parliament the decision that we have taken together,” he added.
After the 2019 budget is agreed, the cabinet must quickly start working on the 2020 budget and on approving the first phase of a program of investments toward which foreign donors have offered $11 billion in project financing. (Reporting by Angus McDowall, editing by Ed Osmond)