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Liquidity in UAE banking sector back to pre-Covid-19 level: Central Bank

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on March 16, 2021
The apex bank announced the first stimulus package of Dh100 billion in March 2020 to support economy, banks, businesses and individuals. It was later increased to Dh256 billion to accelerate the economic recovery. — File photo

Drawdowns by local banks under the Central Bank’s Targeted Economic Support Scheme (Tess) launched last year at zero-cost to support businesses and individuals stood at Dh22 billion in March 2021

The overall liquidity of the UAE banking system has returned to the pre-Covid-19 level, said Abdulhamid Saeed Alahmadi, governor of the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE).

Drawdowns by local banks under the Central Bank’s Targeted Economic Support Scheme (Tess) launched last year at zero-cost to support businesses and individuals stood at Dh22 billion in March 2021, down from the maximum drawdown of Dh44 billion reached in the second quarter of last year, he said.

This reflects that the lenders are quite comfortable with the level of liquidity in the local banking sector at the moment.

The apex bank announced the first stimulus package of Dh100 billion in March 2020 to support economy, banks, businesses and individuals. It was later increased to Dh256 billion to accelerate the economic recovery.

In November 2020, the central bank extended the applicability period of the Tess zero-cost liquidity facility and the Tess loan deferral and recovery programme until June 30, 2021, along with other regulatory relief measures, which will remain in place through 2021.

“It is satisfying to see that the Tess programme has yielded positive impact for the UAE’s banking sector and the wider economy,” added Alahmadi.

Rajeev Kakar, co-founder of Fullerton Financial Holdings, said the the stimulus package has critically helped to ensure the financial stability of the UAE banking system in the Covid-19 crisis.

He complimented the Central Bank by avoiding a “wait and see” approach and quickly launching Tess, which ensured much-needed banking system liquidity.

“Central bank’s proactive announcement of additional regulatory mitigating measures helped UAE banks to continue fulfilling their role in funding households and corporations amid the unexpected Covid-19-led economic shock,” added Kakar.

“Tess together with moratorium, as regulatory relief measures,” Kakar said, “helped prevent need for excessively high IFRS9-led provisions and unwarranted pro-cyclical effects that would have constrained banks’ lending capacities.”

Central bank on Monday said over 320,000 customers, including individuals, small to medium-size enterprises and other private corporations have benefitted from the stimulus package so far. There are about 175,000 customers under the current Tess deferral arrangements, it said.

It also projected 2.5 per cent real GDP growth in UAE economy in 2021.

— waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com





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