The UAE Central Bank in Abu Dhabi
The UAE Central Bank in Abu Dhabi. The CBUAE has confirmed their preparedness to support the banking system in mitigating the downside risk of the COVID-19 outbreak and ensuring the stability of the UAE’s banking sector. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) has confirmed their preparedness to support the banking system in mitigating  the downside risk of the COVID-19 outbreak and ensuring the stability of the UAE’s banking sector.

“In an effort to safeguard the health and wellbeing of its employees; the Central Bank has established internal committees to ensure necessary measures are taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 inside CBUAE’s headquarters and branches including providing fundamental preventive sanitisation requirements and constantly communicating guidelines to protect oneself from Covid-19,” CBUAE said in a statement.

Staff at CBUAE branches dealing with cash are asked to strictly comply with sanitisation procedures and communication with companies that transport cash to and from branches have been ongoing to ensure operations are ongoing and mode of handling cash is with gloves and not bare hands.

Remote working

CBUAE started asking their employees to work remotely in accordance with the business continuity plan and replacing large group meetings whether internal or external with virtual meeting channels.

To ensure financial community protection, another committee is established to communicate with banks advising on preparedness of business continuity plans confirming no disruption to critical services to individual consumers or corporates services in case of reacting to COVID-19 effects.

The central bank also instructed banks to be ready to have sufficient cash loaded at their ATMs and available at branches and banks are asked to keep customers updated should there be change of branch hours or closures. Furthermore, banks are asked to ensure their digital channels are equipped to handle flow of usage.

“We are closely monitoring the development of the COVID-19 outbreak and working with banks and other stakeholders to provide appropriate assistance as necessary to support the economy and minimize adverse impact on financial stability and economic growth,” Mubarak Rashed Al Mansoori, Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE,

Support to banks

On February 29, the CBUAE) on asked banks to reschedule loans and reduce fees and commissions as part of measures to mitigate the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

The country is a regional business hub and major transit point for passengers travelling to China and other destinations in Asia.

“Financial institutions are expected to implement measures such as re-scheduling of loans contracts, granting temporary deferrals on monthly loan payments, and reducing fees and commissions for affected customers,” bank said statement in late February.

Banks exercise caution

A number of banks and financial institutions in the UAE have issued internal memos to their employees regarding precautions to be taken in the context of the coronavirus outbreak.

Many banks have restricted internal meetings, trainings, client meetings and travel within and outside the country to protect their employees and clients from potential risk of exposure to the virus.

Although many banks acknowledged, internal memos to the employees on the precautions they need to take regarding the meetings, banks’ spokespersons did not divulge the details of these.

A few internal mails from banks to their employees saw by Gulf News have specific instructions to employees on travel with in the country and abroad and internal and external meetings and client meetings.

Bank such as Emirates NBD, Mashreq, RAKBank and Emirates Islamic Bank have issued caution memos to their employees regarding standard measures they need to take to protect themselves from exposure to virus.