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Abu Dhabi confirms Dhs10bn of SME loans, PPP law, faster payments under stimulus plan

Abu Dhabi confirms Dhs10bn of SME loans, PPP law, faster payments under stimulus plan

The initiatives form the first pillar of the Dhs50bn Tomorrow 2021 plan

Abu Dhabi Executive Council has announced reforms including expedited business licencing procedures, Dhs10bn of SME financing from local banks, a new public private partnership law and the settling of late payments to boost investment.

The measures come under the first pillar of the Dhs50bn ($13.6bn) Tomorrow 2021 plan first announced by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince in June.

The first pillar aims to stimulate business and investment in the emirate through 30 initiatives designed to improve competitiveness, support SMEs, strengthen the private sector and increase transparency.

It includes a set of new licences, including a package that will approval 91 per cent of commercial activities in five minutes, the council said.

Abu Dhabi’s Tajer licences have also been expanded to benefit all nationalities and cover 1,000 commercial activities, allowing companies to operate without a commercial lease.

Other changes have also been announced in recent weeks including dual licences allowing free zone firms to operate onshore and a new SME licence at financial free zone Abu Dhabi Global Market.

Read: Abu Dhabi introduces dual licensing for onshore, free zone firms

The council said building regulations in the emirate would be revised and zoning and regulatory information would be available online by the end of October to speed up the process of issuing building permits to within 10 days. A new building law is also in the final drafting stage to cut the cost of building and owning property in Abu Dhabi.

Elsewhere, the emirate is introducing initiatives to support small and medium enterprises through direct financing via venture capital, an acceleration programme, small claims court and a digital platform providing government services.

A capital credit guarantee programme will be launched before year-end by major Abu Dhabi banks to offer SMEs access to more affordable financing. It is expected to offer Dhs10bn ($2.72bn) of loans at lower interest rates over the next three years.

Among the most major regulatory changes is a new public private partnership law that “will be issued soon”, with the first wave of up to five PPP projects worth Dhs3bn ($816.7m) to be tendered in the first quarter of next year. These will span housing, roads and infrastructure, energy and healthcare and be supported by a dedicated PPP centre to oversee relationships with investors.

Also in the first quarter, Abu Dhabi said it would approve a new local content policy to provide preferential procurement in governments tenders covering 50 per cent of spending categories to local services and products.

Furthermore, the government is supporting the tourism sector through a year-round event calendar, previously announced cuts to tourism, municipality and hotel fees and a budget of Dhs500m to promote Abu Dhabi as a tourism destination.

Read: Abu Dhabi cuts tourism and municipality fees at hotels

“Additional sector-specific development funds will be established, in conjunction with incentives similar to those of tourism, with industry being the top priority for such initiatives,” the council said.

In addition, businesses will see the payment of all non-contested dues from the government by November 15 and wider structural changes to the payment process “to ensure private sector contractors are paid in a timely manner”.

New legislation is expected to be announced in this area within 30 days on top of a new platform to allow dialogue between the private sector and the government including a monthly forum.

Details on the other four pillars of the Tomorrow 21 plan, which Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said on Sunday would cover society, knowledge and innovation and lifestyle, will be released in the coming days.

Read: Abu Dhabi crown prince outlines Dhs50bn stimulus plan

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