Minister reports high demand as lower-income Emiratis apply for cost-of-living subsidy

'Tremendous number' of applications on website, hours after programme began

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A multibillion-dirham fund to help Emiratis with the rising cost of living was in high demand on Tuesday, hours after the scheme went live.

The Ministry of Community Development said its website was "experiencing pressure as a result of the increasing numbers due to submission of requests and inquiries".

"The ministry’s technical team is currently working to quickly fix the problem. The site will return to normal in the coming hours," the ministry added in a tweet.

Minister Hessa Buhumaid said there had been high demand in the first hours. Discounts on fuel and shopping will begin immediately. Other measures will take effect in September.

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We have witnessed a tremendous number of applications on the website
Hessa Buhumaid, Ministry of Community Development

“Inflation subsidies will be enforced immediately and we will not wait to September," Ms Buhumaid told Abu Dhabi Radio.

“We will open the opportunity to apply for the subsidies program starting today.

"We have witnessed a tremendous [number of applications] on the website and have had some glitches ... but are working around the clock to make it easier for applicants.”

Emirati families whose household income is up to Dh25,000 per month ($6,800) are eligible for a series of measures designed to ease rising inflation.

The relief package of Dh28 billion ($7.6bn), approved by President Sheikh Mohamed on Monday, is a significant expansion of an existing fund for lower-income families.

How the fuel subsidy works

The government aims to mitigate the impact of rising fuel costs, which have increased by more than 70 per cent in the UAE since January, in line with soaring global prices.

Eligible Emiratis will receive an 85 per cent discount on the cost of petrol above Dh2.10 per litre — the current price is Dh4.6. That means they would pay a price similar to that in 2015, when the government ended subsidies.

Ms Buhumaid said: "Beneficiaries will be contacted directly by the ministry and they will be immediately tied to their Emirates ID, so they can immediately go to any gas station to receive this month allowance.

"The allowance is renewed every month to up to 400 litres for the father and if both couple have a car, then 500 litres."

Key measures:

Immediate

- Fuel subsidy

- Subsidy to tackle food price inflation

September

- Monthly payment of at least Dh5,000 ($1,360) to the father of the family, rising to a maximum of Dh13,000, depending on age and work circumstances. Monthly allowance to wife of Dh3,500

- Parents to receive support payment of Dh2,400 a month for the first child, Dh1,600 a month for the second and third child, and Dh800 for every subsequent child – up to the age of 21.

- Electricity and water subsidy of 50 per cent on electricity more than 4,000 kilowatts and water consumption under 26,000 gallons

- Fixed subsidy ranging from Dh2,000 to Dh5,000 per month, according to age, for unemployed citizens aged over 45

A full breakdown of the policies can be found here.

Latest inflation rate

Nationwide, inflation was up 3.3 per cent in Q1 2022 compared to the previous year, official figures show.

In Dubai, consumer inflation rose to 4.6 per cent in April year-on-year, Emirates NBD said, the highest rise since 2015.

Food prices were 8.6 per cent higher year-on-year, the bank said, while fuel and average rents rose significantly.

Wife's job loss put pressure on finances

Mohamed Al Hammadi, 32, is hopeful he and his young family will benefit from the new subsidies.

Mr Al Hammadi, who earns Dh25,000 a month as head of programmes and activities at the Emirates Red Crescent Authority, said his wife lost her job a few months ago.

The couple have three children, one of whom is at a private school in Abu Dhabi.

Including tuition fees, utilities and petrol for their two cars, they also have to pay rent.

“My wife helped keep us afloat, but when she lost her job, it started becoming a challenge with prices going up,” Mr Al Hammadi told The National.

“I think what kept us going is the strong faith we have in our leadership. A faith that when things become dire, they will support us, and this latest decision is proof of that.

“It's a testament that they are aware of whatever challenges we face and are there to resolve any problems we might have,” he said.

“I do hope we are included in this latest decision and, if not, then we are confident that there will be something else for Emiratis who are in our situation.”

Fuel prices rise: in pictures

Updated: July 05, 2022, 2:32 PM
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