Abu Dhabi banks unveil financial initiatives for consumers, SMEs

The Abu Dhabi Government is implementing a raft of financial incentives to help residents and businesses in the emirate cope with the economic uncertainties. (AFP)
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Updated 26 March 2020

Abu Dhabi banks unveil financial initiatives for consumers, SMEs

DUBAI: Several Abu Dhabi banks will implement a comprehensive package of financial incentives to help consumers and businesses in the emirate cope with the economic uncertainties because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Designed to provide for the immediate needs of individuals and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Abu Dhabi, these 17 financial initiatives seek to reduce finance-related costs, facilitate the ease of access to financing, and maintain the resilience of the Abu Dhabi economy, state news agency WAM reported.

The measures, a collective effort by First Abu Dhabi Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and the Abu Dhabi government, include 10 banking-related initiatives specifically for individuals, and seven financial initiatives for SMEs.

“Individuals who are impacted by COVID-19 may obtain these benefits, upon request to their banks. Deferred instalments (principal and interest) of existing personal and auto loans, mortgages, and credit cards will be made available for up to three months for eligible customers until the end of June 2020 with no additional bank charges,” WAM said.

“Foreclosures on mortgages will be halted for defaulted customers until 30 June 2020 and there will be a halt in the suspension of bank accounts for retrenched customers until the end of September 2020. Full refunds can be obtained on credit card processing fees on foreign currency transactions committed after 1 January 2020, associated with cancellation of travel plans.

“Lastly, instalment programs will be made available with no service fees for utility bill payments until 30 June 2020.

“All individuals, upon request to their banks, may defer instalments (principal and interest) on new personal and auto loans, mortgages, and credit cards for up to three months for eligible customers until the end of June 2020, along with a reduction of 50 percent in associated bank charges,” WAM reported.

And to encourage customers to avail of an early settlement and refinancing of existing loans, banks would be implementing a 50 percent reduction on associated bank charges for eligible customers until June 30, 2020. There will also be a reduction in interest charges on new loans and credit cards for eligible customers based on new prevailing rates.

“For school tuition fees, interest-free instalment plans with either a waiver of service charges or 0 percent interest loan will also be provided until the end of June 2020. Other measures announced also include reducing the required down-payment by 5 percent for first-time home buyers,” the WAM report said.

For small businesses, the financial incentives geared for them would enable SMEs to mobilize their borrowings and savings more efficiently, while reducing the financial costs of running their businesses, WAM said.

“For those SMEs who have been impacted by COVID-19, upon request to their banks, they may defer instalments on existing borrowings for three months for eligible customers until the end of June 2020 with no additional bank charges.

“Eligible SMEs will also be able to save on selected fees for their banking services. Specifically, bank merchant service fees (credit card transactions) will be reduced by 50 percent for SMEs with below 5 million dirhams usage per annum until June 30. There will also be reduction of up to 50 percent on all banking fees and charges for Zero Balance accounts for eligible customers.

“In addition, the Minimum Average Balance requirements on all SME account categories will be reduced to up to AED 10,000 per month for eligible customers to provide them with more liquidity,” WAM said.

SMEs may also request their banks for instalments to be deferred on new borrowings for up to three months along with a 50 percent reduction in any associated bank charges until the end of June 2020, while those eligible could benefit from a reduction of interest charges on new borrowings based on new prevailing rates.

“Lastly, SMEs may avail a 50 percent reduction in bank charges for early settlements on their existing borrowings until June 30,” WAM said.

G20 trade ministers highlight importance of transparency in current environment

Saudi Arabia has introduced several security and economic measures in its fight against coronavirus. (SPA)
Updated 31 March 2020

G20 trade ministers highlight importance of transparency in current environment

  • Extraordinary video conference explores ways to tackle coronavirus disruptions

RIYADH: Trade and investment ministers from the Group of 20 major economies convened an extraordinary video conference on Monday to come to grips with the blow to global trade from the coronavirus pandemic and weigh how to overcome supply chain disruptions.

They voiced concern about the daunting challenges facing workers and businesses, particularly the most vulnerable ones.
“We will ensure our collective response is supportive of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and recognize the importance of strengthening international investment,” said a ministerial statement.
It added: “We are profoundly saddened by the devastating human tragedy caused by the spread of COVID-19. The pandemic is a global challenge and requires a coordinated global response.”
The statement added that G20 leaders, following their extraordinary meeting conducted on March 26, committed “to presenting a united front against this common threat.”
“Now more than ever is the time for the international community to step up cooperation and coordination to protect human life and lay the foundations for a strong economic recovery and a sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth after this crisis,” the ministerial statement added.
The ministers also said they had started monitoring and assessing the impact of the pandemic on trade as per the task entrusted to us by G20 leaders.
“We are actively working to ensure the continued flow of vital medical supplies and equipment, critical agricultural products, and other essential goods and services across borders, for supporting the health of our citizens. Consistent with national requirements, we will take immediate necessary measures to facilitate trade in those essential goods,” the statement added.
“We will support the availability and accessibility of essential medical supplies and pharmaceuticals at affordable prices, on an equitable basis, where they are most needed, and as quickly as possible, including by encouraging additional production through incentives and targeted investment, according to national circumstances. We will guard against profiteering and unjustified price increases,” the ministers said.
“We are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable developing and least developed countries, and notably in Africa and small island states.
“We agree that emergency measures designed to tackle COVID-19, if deemed necessary, must be targeted, proportionate, transparent, and temporary, and that they do not create unnecessary barriers to trade or disruption to global supply chains, and are consistent with WTO rules.
“We will implement those measures upholding the principle of international solidarity, considering the evolving needs of other countries for emergency supplies and humanitarian assistance.
“We emphasize the importance of transparency in the current environment and our commitment to notify the WTO of any trade related measures taken, all of which will enable global supply chains to continue to function in this crisis, while expediting the recovery that will follow.
“As we fight the pandemic both individually and collectively and seek to mitigate its impacts on international trade and investment, we will continue to work together to deliver a free, fair, non- discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open,” the statement added.
“We will ensure smooth and continued operation of the logistics networks that serve as the backbone of global supply chains. We will explore ways for logistics networks via air, sea and land freight to remain open, as well as ways to facilitate essential movement of health personnel and businesspeople across borders, without undermining the efforts to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We will continue monitoring and assessing the impact of the pandemic on trade. We call on the international organizations to provide an in-depth analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on world trade, investment and global value chains,” the ministers said.
We will continue working with them to establish coordinated approaches and collect and share good practices to facilitate flows of essential goods and services.
We will convene again as necessary, and we task the G20 Trade and Investment Working Group to address these issues closely and to identify additional proposed actions that could help alleviate the wide-range impact of COVID-19, as well as longer-term actions that should be taken to support the multilateral trading system and expedite economic recovery.
The next Italian G20 2021 Presidency is committed to continue paying the highest attention to the international trade climate in the discussion of long-term actions.