UAE central bank reviews Tess scheme at its latest meeting

The regulator's board discussed the need to reassess the scheme next year and extend it 'at that stage if necessary'

The UAE Central Bank. The regulator said it will reassess the Tess scheme next year to see if it needs extension. Sammy Dallal / The National
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The UAE Central Bank's board of directors on Monday reviewed the Targeted Economic Support Scheme (Tess) that was rolled out to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 and said it would reassess the programme in March and April next year.

The council also discussed the need for an "extension of the Tess scheme at that stage if necessary", state news agency Wam reported.

More than 300,000 individuals have benefitted from the Tess scheme while about 10,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and more than 1,500 private sector companies used the economic stimulus, the banking regulator said.

The central bank first rolled out Tess in March as it unveiled a Dh100bn stimulus package to support companies and individuals affected by movement restrictions and other measures taken to stop the spread of the pandemic.

This included Dh50bn of zero-cost collateralised loans and a loosening of banks’ capital requirements, giving them more firepower to lend. Further loosening of capital and liquidity buffers has since increased the size of this stimulus to Dh256bn.

Participating banks were instructed to use the funding to offer temporary relief to the private sector and retail customers for a period of up to six months. Banks also increased the loan-to-value ratio on mortgages to 20 per cent for first-time expatriate buyers and 15 per cent for Emiratis.

For businesses, the regulator ordered lenders to remove requirements for SMEs to have a minimum account balance of Dh10,000 before opening accounts and urged them to speed up account opening times to two days.

In addition to the Tess scheme, the meeting also discussed the plan for the gradual implementation of Basel standards in three stages. The first stage will be implemented by the second quarter of 2021, while the following stages will be completed by the fourth quarter of 2021 and the second quarter of 2022 respectively.

The board also reviewed its 50-year roadmap that focuses on improving "monetary and financial stability through effective supervision, wise management of reserves, and strong financial infrastructure", Wam said.