The Covid-19 pandemic has hit at the heart of our economies, jolted individuals and businesses, disrupted plans, and dented our faith in projections and forecasts. Thousands have been made redundant and businesses strangulated. But had it not been for the various fiscal and monetary measures introduced by the government, the pain would have been much more. The size of the UAE’s stimulus package, first announced in March this year, had cushioned the impact of the pandemic for scores of households and businesses. The key component of the package, known as Targeted Economic Support Scheme, is now being extended until June next year to pave way for a faster recovery.
The real impact of the relief offered by banks since the early months of the pandemic in the form of deferral of debt payments by retail and corporates can be seen through the number of people who have availed this service. More than 310,000 retail customers, nearly 10,000 SMEs and more than 1,500 private sector companies have benefitted. The economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic have been further aggravated by the collapse of crude oil prices in the region. Banks in the UAE were already grappling with high ratio of bad loans. In 2019, this figure had climbed to its highest levels in more than five years. Extension of Tess is effectively relieving pressure on financial institutions, and allowing continued access to funding for businesses and households. In the absence of such support, many loans could have turned bad, adding further pressure on the banking system and weakened the economy further. Until revenues recover, such support is welcome.
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