CBUAE deserves applause for its stellar role in Covid recovery

Norms have been partially waived so that more money is available for banks to finance businesses

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Published: Sun 19 Dec 2021, 10:56 PM

The banking sector is the lynchpin of the financial system of a country. A robust, healthy banking sector is a must for a thriving economy. When crises such as natural calamities and pandemic occur, it is banks which first come under stress due to a slowdown in economic activities. It is the central bank, a regulator and a banker of bankers, which needs to come to the rescue of the stressed financial system. The Central Bank of UAE (CBUAE) has risen to the occasion and started supporting the banking system through the Targeted Economic Support Scheme (Tess) ever since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in the early months of 2020.

As the pandemic kept pummelling the economies of the world for nearly two years now, the CBUAE kept extending its measures taken under Tess. The latest extension given on Saturday will keep most of the Tess measures in place until June-end of 2022. Though there has been an uptick in economic activities in the recent months, businesses are yet to fully come out of the pandemic-induced stress on their finances. The CBUAE move is well-timed and needs to be appreciated.

What do the CBUAE measures entail? How does it help the banks and the economy? The banks are required to fulfil certain liquidity requirements under the central bank regulations. Those norms have been partially waived so that more money is available for banks to finance businesses. Cheap funding, sometimes at zero per cent, helped mitigate problems of several businesses hit by the pandemic.

The UAE extended economic stimulus worth Dh388 billion to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on economy. It also includes Dh50 billion under Tess to boost the liquidity of the financial sector. Targeted economic measures helped many businesses to stay afloat. Khaled Balama, Governor of the Central Bank of UAE, rightly observed: “The Tess programme has proven its effectiveness in supporting the UAE financial system and economy throughout the pandemic.”

The CBUAE played a stellar role in the recent economic recover. The economy has bounced back to almost pre-pandemic levels thanks to timely measures undertaken by both the Central Bank and the government.

According to latest estimates by the CBUAE, the economy is expected to grow at 2.1 per cent in 2021 and 4.2 per cent in 2022. This is nothing but miraculous after the contraction of the economy in 2020. The banking system, aided by the CBUAE, lived up to the expectations and propped up several businesses which would have otherwise gone bust. The UAE economy is back on rails and speeding ahead. All is well that ends well.

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