Abu Dhabi: They’re designed to assist small businesses grappling with the COVID-19 economic slowdown, but residents in the capital can also expect to benefit from the measures announced by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council today.
Apart from the trickle-down effect of businesses doing well, certain aspects of the stimulus package will also directly impact individuals working and living in Abu Dhabi emirate by reducing the cost of living.
For one, Emirati residents can expect a reduction in utility bills, as Dh5 billion is allocated in water and electricity subsidies. The scrapping of real estate registration fees may prove to be a boon for home owners, and the suspension of tourism and municipality fees in the tourism and entertainment sector could help promote some festivity and cheer once the requirement for social distancing dies down.
And most obviously, motorists in Abu Dhabi can stop worrying about road tolls, which were set to be implemented from April onwards. As part of the stimulus package, all road users are exempt from the tolls until the end of 2020.
“I live in the city centre, but provide language teaching classes across the city. So I was bracing for the road tolls. They were a concern because the market is generally slow, and it can get difficult to make ends meet. But this decision shows that the government is thinking of its people, and not just their health during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Kariman Al Assil, 61, a language teacher from Syria, told Gulf News.
“People are suffering from the slowdown so this is a wise decision,” she added.
Abu Dhabi’s road tolls were set to apply during peak hours when motorists crossed one of four bridges linking the city centre to the mainland.
One SME owner said he had calculated that he would have to pay more than Dh150 a month as road tolls for each of his six vehicles.
“Expenses tend to add up, so even a few hundred saved up will be a big respite for residents,” said Mohammed Naeem, 34, a digital marketer from Bangladesh.
“I expected to pay up to the monthly maximum of Dh200 for my car. In the current situation, businesses would feel the pinch of a newly introduced road toll, so this is very welcome,” Naeem said.
Another resident who declined to be named said he had been planning to limit his trips to non-peak hours, but that this could have an impact on his construction works firm.
“We are a small outfit and don’t make much, especially in this current economy. Any little discount or rebate is therefore very welcome, and this one is particularly helpful because we have to transport a lot of equipment across the city during peak hours,” he said.