Dubai: The UAE economy is fully prepared to meet challenges posed by slower global and regional economic growth this year resulting from both external and geopolitical and domestic factors, said AbdulAziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of UAE Banks Federation (UBF).
“All key sectors of the economy, particularly the banking sector, have been fully prepared for some slowdown in the economy. We do not expect to see any spike in non-performing loans this year. On the contrary, the NPLs had peaked a few years ago and banks now have much healthier balance-sheets,” said Al Ghurair.
While the real estate sector is facing some challenges from oversupply, Al Ghurair welcomed the recent government decision to set up a higher committee to monitor and regulate new supplies from the semi-government entities.
“Supply and demand are the two market forces that will determine the value of goods and services in any economy ... and the UAE is no exception. We clearly are facing a situation where values of properties are on decline because of higher supply and it is very important to stabilise the property values to balance economic growth,” Al Ghurair said.
Commenting on the exposure of banks to the real estate sector and its role in supporting property investors, the UBF Chairman said banks need to continue to support investors who are facing challenges from decline in values. “We have been restructuring real estate loans by extending the tenure of the loans and extending repayment schedules. This is the need of the time to support our customers,” Al Ghurair said.
Regarding the use of bankruptcy law, Al Ghurair said, although it is in place, the public, judiciary and all other stakeholders are yet to test its efficacy. “We haven’t come across a single case where the law has been tested in the court. It has to be initiated by affected customers and only courts can determine the merit of such cases.”