Abu Dhabi fund suspends debt service repayments for countries, companies

Abu Dhabi Fund for Development said debt service repayments would be suspended for eligible countries and individual companies from Jan. 1 until Dec. 31. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 13 July 2020

Abu Dhabi fund suspends debt service repayments for countries, companies

  • Debt service repayments would be suspended for eligible countries and individual companies from Jan. 1 until Dec. 31

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has suspended debt service repayments for some countries and companies for the year, the state-financed fund said on Sunday.

The fund provides financial assistance to companies in the UAE and to developing countries, which has included Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Debt service repayments would be suspended for eligible countries and individual companies in the developing world from Jan. 1 until Dec. 31, the fund said in a statement. Countries and companies would need to request to have repayments suspended, it said.

The fund did not say what the criteria would need to be met to be eligible for the scheme.

“At a time when the world is reeling under the effect of the pandemic ... it is imperative for us to support particularly those that need it most, especially the low-income countries,” the fund’s director general Mohammed Saif Al-Suwaidi, said. 

Sectors such as banking and aviation in the UAE are facing a tough time due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a report, Emirates airline has cut a tenth of its workforce in layoffs that could rise to 15 percent, or 9,000 jobs, its president said.

The Middle East’s largest carrier, which operates a fleet of 270 wide-bodied aircraft, halted operations in late March as part of global shutdowns to stem the spread of the virus.

It resumed two weeks later on a limited network and plans to fly to 58 cities by mid-August, down from about 157 before the crisis.

However, its president Tim Clark has said previously that it could take up to four years for operations to return to “some degree of normality,” and the airline has been staging rounds of layoffs, as recently as last week, without disclosing numbers.

Before the crisis hit, Emirates employed some 60,000 staff, including 4,300 pilots and nearly 22,000 cabin crew, according to its annual report.

Clark said in an interview with the BBC that the airline had already cut a tenth of its staff and that Emirates “will probably have to let go of a few more, probably up to 15 percent.”

A company spokeswoman told AFP the airline had nothing to add to the report.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that airlines are in line to make a combined net loss of more than $84 billion this year in the wake of the pandemic crisis, the biggest in the industry’s history.

Clark said in the interview that Emirates was “not as badly off as others” but that the crisis hit just as it was “heading for one of our best years ever.”

The Dubai-based airline had reported a bumper 21 percent rise in annual profits in March.


Turkey on brink of recession as economy collapses

Updated 13 August 2020

Turkey on brink of recession as economy collapses

  • Consumer debt has increased by 25 percent to more than $100 billion in the past three months

JEDDAH: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s popularity is plunging in lockstep with Turkey’s collapsing economy and the country is on the verge of a potentially devastating recession, financial experts have told Arab News.
The value of the Turkish lira has fallen to 7.30 against the US dollar and the central bank has spent $65 billion to prop up the currency, according to the US investment bank Goldman Sachs.
Consumer debt has increased by 25 percent to more than $100 billion in the past three months as the government moved to help families during the coronavirus pandemic, but the result has been a surge in inflation to 12 percent.
With the falling lira and increased price of imported goods, the living standards of many Turks who earn in lira but have dollar debts have fallen sharply.
The economy is expected to shrink by about 4 percent this year. The official unemployment rate remains at 12.8 percent because layoffs are banned, although many experts say the real figures are far higher.
To complete the perfect storm, tourism revenues and exports have been decimated by the pandemic, and foreign capital has fled amid fears over economic trends and the independence of the central bank.
Wolfango Piccoli, of Teneo Intelligence in London, said logic dictated an increase in interest rates but “this is unlikely to happen.”
Piccoli said central bank officials would strive to avoid an outright rate hike at their monetary policy meeting on Aug. 20. “A mix of controlled devaluation and backdoor policies, such as limiting Turkish lira’s liquidity, remains their preferred approach,” he said.
There is speculation of snap elections, and Erdogan’s view is that higher interest rates cause inflation, despite considerable economic evidence to the contrary.