'Support will always be there' Abu Dhabi economic official tells businesses and consumers

The emirate is planning more measures to ease the impact of the coronavirus and the UAE has 'enough goods and supplies for the long-term', Rashed Alblooshi says

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 24, 2019.  
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-- Beautiful Al Reem Island on a cool and sunny afternoon shot from the Eastern Mangroves area.
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Abu Dhabi is planning to roll out a third and fourth set of initiatives aimed at easing the economic burden from the coronavirus outbreak on businesses and consumers, a government official said.

The Abu Dhabi government established committees to survey businesses about the challenges they face and the state support they require during the Covid-19 crisis, Rashed Alblooshi, undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department for Economic Development (ADDED) told an Abu Dhabi Radio programme on Wednesday.

"There is support on the way, God willing, whether for the trader or for the consumer," Mr Alblooshi said, without elaborating on the type or timing of the upcoming initiatives. "With these initiatives we have the flexibility to direct them to sectors that need them."

Abu Dhabi's plan for a new wave of measures comes after the UAE capital revealed a set of 16 initiatives last month focused on supporting small and medium enterprises, cutting business fees and reducing living costs. These were part of a detailed plan to stimulate economic growth by easing investment regulations, proceeding with approved capital expenditure and development projects and reviewing lending options for local businesses. On Tuesday the emirate also waived Dh246 million in penalties to support private companies, in line with the stimulus package announced earlier this month.

The new planned initiatives, that fall under Abu Dhabi's Dh50 billion Ghadan 21 programme, will be channeled in a flexible manner to the sectors that require them to cope with the coronavirus crisis, Mr Alblooshi said.

"These packages are directed towards specific requirements, if that need is because of the sudden appearance of this virus then our reaction is to fill those gaps," Mr Alblooshi said.

"Support will always be there in a studied and regulated way that will benefit the private and public sectors and ofcourse individuals," he added.

The UAE as of Tuesday had 664 confirmed coronavirus cases, including six deaths, with 61 people having recovered from the virus.

The UAE government increased its economic stimulus package to Dh126bn, joining governments around the world in stepping up measures to ease the economic fallout from the spread of the deadly virus.

Mr AlBlooshi noted that the department has moved to a system of dealing remotely with its clients by offering nearly all of its services via smart phones and electronically.

The department has also undertaken 3,450 inspection visits from March 27 to March 30 across retail outlets, pharmacies and restaurants in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain to monitor the quality and pricing of goods. As a result, it confiscated more than 71,000 products that were below standards.

It has also asked foodstuffs and vegetable companies to use wedding halls, which were previously barred from holding celebrations, as venues to distribute food.

Mr AlBlooshi urged consumers to buy only what they need and avoid overstocking, assuring the UAE has invested in food security and medical supplies and is working on securing more stock.

"We have no shortages, there's an abundance," he said. "We have enough goods and supplies for the long-term."

The department has noted some violations by sellers during the crisis, for example in terms of quality and pricing of goods, for which it has strict penalties, he said.

Mr AlBlooshi urged the public to practise physicial distancing when shopping at retail outlets or opt for online shopping, noting that all stores registered with the department undergo quality and safety checks.

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