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Abu Dhabi Corniche Gulf News archives Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: SME owners and business leaders in the UAE have hailed the initiatives announced today to aid Abu Dhabi-based businesses grappling with the coronavirus impact.

Detailed under Ghadan 21, Abu Dhabi’s three-year economic stimulus package, the measures are primarily aimed at supporting SMEs, including utility bill subsidies, waivers for commercial penalties and road tolls, and the prompt payment of dues for public projects.

“This is a clear indicator that our leaders care about us. In the face of the coronavirus outbreak, such reassurance is so very valuable. Business may be slow but I know my government will support and help me,” said Ahmad Al Mansoori, owner of Al Shozen Group.

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Ahmad Al Mansoori, owner of Al Shozen Group Image Credit: Supplied

The Emirati businessman runs a gents’ salon, an automotive traders and a construction firm.

“I pay Dh10,000 every month in utility bills alone, other than Dh2,000 a year for each of my six vehicles. Then there are commercial penalties, which certain tend to stack up, especially when times are tough, these costs add up. But today’s announcement means I can expect some respite,” Al Mansoori said, adding that he is waiting for specific details on each of the rebates, waivers and exemptions.

The stimulus package is even more welcome in industries that have been severely impacted by the social distancing requirements brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Jonia Mathew, director of Red Dot Events and Exhibitions Image Credit: Supplied

“I am an event organizer and my industry is severely affected. One of my biggest events, Holi, got shelved along with exhibitions and weddings,” said Jonia Mathew, director of Red Dot Events and Exhibitions.

“I will be renewing my license soon. So definitely the fee waiver package will bring relief. Subsidies will help other business and in turn, the benefit will trickle down to me. All business are interlinked and when one benefits it passes on to others as well,” Mathew said.

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Syed Qaiser Anis, managing director at Alliott Management Consulting Image Credit: Supplied

Syed Qaiser Anis, managing director at Alliott Management Consulting in Abu Dhabi, said the rebates and exemptions are a welcome announcement.

“The Abu Dhabi government always supports citizens, residents and the business community in the face of challenges. The steps to exempt partially and fully of various fees and duties for industrial and commercial activities will compensate businesses as the market slows down, especially the ailing hospitality industry,” said Anis, who is also president of the Pakistan Business Professional Council.

Business leaders and corporate stalwarts also greeted the measures, and paid tribute to Abu Dhabi’s leadership.

“Unprecedented circumstances require unprecedented actions and that’s exactly what His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed has done today. The new Abu Dhabi stimulus package will surely spur lots of activities and growth in both private and government sectors. This apt initiative could not have come at a better time and will surely bring in huge relief,” tweeted Yusuffali MA, chairman of the Lulu Group.

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Dr Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman and Managing Director at Aster DM Healthcare Image Credit: Supplied

Dr Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman and Managing Director at Aster DM Healthcare, added that initiatives will help “keep the economy vibrant and active in difficult times.

“They will ensure that the emirate’s SME sector will continue to flourish, while also reducing the effect of the situation felt by residents and businesses alike,” Dr Moopen said.

Samer Hijazi, Partner, Grant Thornton Abu Dhabi, said, the announcement could not have come at a better time.

“The initiatives will impact many Abu Dhabi-based businesses across a number of sectors, including real estate, retail, tourism and hospitality by freeing up liquidity, shrinking transaction fees and, in general, reducing administrative burdens on business operations in a quick and efficient manner,” said Hijazi.

“Key points to highlight are the waivers for performance and bid bonds, payments of approved invoices within two weeks and the introduction of a three billion SME credit guarantee fund.

“Many businesses are expected to feel the positive impact of this initiative as early as tomorrow and this is where the challenge lies: The range of the measures is probably beyond most market observers’ expectations but the speed with which these measures can be introduced, especially given the current global situation, will dictate the degree to which the economy will be able to benefit from these measures,” added Hijazi.