DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates will reinforce its stockpile of strategic goods and will waive residency visa fines for the rest of the year in response to the coronavirus outbreak, its vice president said on Sunday.
Tweeting after a Cabinet meeting, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, who is also the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai, said authorities had directed factories to support the health sector’s needs in the country, which has recorded 1,505 infections and 10 deaths.
Dubai imposed a two-week lockdown on Saturday night, tightening an overnight curfew that the whole of the UAE has been under for 10 days. Daily new cases have increased recently as testing has been stepped up.
The UAE central bank also announced new measures on Sunday to guarantee liquidity in the banking system, boosting its stimulus package to a total of $70 billion from a previously announced $27 billion.
Meanwhile in neighboring Kuwait, the governor of the central bank said the country’s banks can continue to distribute dividends for 2019 and it is early to ask them to suspend dividends for 2020.
“The exchange rate system is excellent and there is no fear for the Kuwaiti dinar,” said Mohammad Al-Hashel, adding that banks’ average capital adequacy ratio was above 18 percent. The minimum ratio has been reduced to 10.5 percent, the governor said.
Last week, the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) announced a stimulus package to support vital sectors and small and medium enterprises amid the fallout from the coronavirus epidemic.
The measures will raise banks’ lending by 5 billion dinars ($16 billion), the Kuwait Banking Association said last week.
Hashel said banks had agreed to refrain from liquidating collateral assets like real estate or stocks, unless customers ask for it, “to avoid any serious decline in the markets.”
Banks should not be “very strict” in refraining from lending, he said.
He added monetary policy measures taken so far were adequate, but the central bank was ready to act again if necessary.