If the pandemic has upended lives for more than two years, the Russia-Ukraine war has only made the situation worse for working individuals and families. The salaried class have been most affected by the health crisis that has mutated into multiple crises.
Natural disasters caused by climate change have pushed the world to the edge of a catastrophe with oil prices hitting the roof. Food production in conflict areas has been severely impacted, and rising inflation is bearing down on low and middle-income households who are struggling to balance their budgets as they cut down on expenses. Economists are warning of a recession by the end of the year.
There’s gloom being forecast, but the UAE remains the lone bright spark, with the government moving swiftly to roll out a Dh28 billion support package for Emiratis to help them tide through a crisis brought on by global factors.
Citizens with lower incomes will benefit more as the President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has personally stepped in to double the total social support package from Dh14 billion.
The government has intervened at the right moment to provide succor to those in need. At the start of the pandemic, the UAE government moved to ease the burden on businesses and helped keep establishments running. Fees were waived and establishment costs were cut.
With the UAE’s recovery now on the fast track, the industrial sector has also made a strong comeback. The economy is riding high on oil, trade, tourism and manufacturing. It is also diversifying, expanding, and making an impact globally as it forges bilateral trade pacts with nations.
Domestically, its comfortable fiscal situation has enabled it to assist individuals and families. Under the new social scheme, support for citizens would be enhanced from Dh 2.7bn to Dh5bn. Housing aid, food, fuel, electricity and water subsidies are part of the package.
Assistance to unemployed citizens over the age of 45 will help them find their feet before they find their way back into the workforce. Inflation touched 3.3 per cent in the first quarter of the year.
Minister of Community Development, Hessa Buhumaid, said the hike in citizens’ subsidies is to tackle inflation. What’s noteworthy and deserves praise is the government’s decision to absorb 75 per cent of the food bill for lower-income Emiratis. This is to meet their “living requirements and provide them with a decent life.”
The leadership has an enduring bond with ordinary people and reaches out to them at a personal level when the going gets tough. And Sheikh Mohamed inspires as always. We are reminded of his words during the peak of the pandemic. “God willing, this crisis will pass. But we need to be a little patient,” he said in 2020. Those words hold true even today.
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