Over the past five years, the focus of the economy of the UAE has significantly shifted from an overarching reliance on the petro-energy sector to a more diversified and fully-rounded mature macro model. This shift has been planned to ensure that progress and prosperity are integral pillars of the UAE’s growth can be fully and viably sustained. The shift has not been without its share of hurdles, though, and the sustained depreciation in revenues for the petro-energy sector has undoubtedly presented challenges for all levels of government in making sure that the highest levels of services are maintained.
This changing climate too has resulted in all levels of government looking at their revenues and expenditures, and making sure that the provision of services represents value in the return on investment. Throughout, all levels of government have been transparent, making sure that those who provide services are responsible in making sure public finances are put to the best and most efficient use, and that end-users too are invested in the provision of services by contributing their part too. It’s a win-win scenario, one where efficient services are provided, and those services have merit and monetary worth.
At a Cabinet meeting of the UAE Government last Wednesday, the ministers agreed to freeze all federal fees at current levels for the next three years. The measure was detailed by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who noted that the freeze on federal fees would offer economic and social stability and would increase the attractiveness and potential of the UAE for foreign corporations, enhancing this nation’s international reputation as a good place to do business.
Foreign corporations look at their investment and expansion strategies through long-term lenses, and having a federal fee freeze in place for three years facilitates that planning process. Certainty and stability are economic properties that are fundamental to proper economic planning, and the UAE Cabinet’s decision ensures business planners know the costing up-front.
Across the UAE, at every level of government and in a whole range of governmental bodies and agencies, fee structures have become an institutional and economic reality. They are, in effect, the cost of doing business. Given the Cabinet decision to hold the line on federal fees for the next three years, all other levels of government should follow suit in similar fashion.