The UAE Central Bank has enabled financial institutions to continue extending relief support to businesses and individuals impacted by the coronavirus pandemic until next year.
In a statement on Tuesday, the authority said it has extended the validity of some key features of its economic stimulus package, called the Targeted Economic Support Scheme (TESS), until mid-2022. The programme was earlier extended to June 30, 2021.
“Financial institutions will continue to be eligible to access the collateralised AED50 billion ($13.6 billion) zero-cost liquidity facility up to [June 30, 2022] to provide new loans and financing to individuals, small and medium-sized enterprises, and other private corporates affected by COVID-19 repercussions,” the authority said.
Khaled Mohamed Balama, governor of the central bank, said the extension of the programme will “allow continued support by the financial system to the sectors negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“This is done to support the recovery phase, in line with the [central bank] mandate to ensure financial and monetary stability,” he said.
TESS is a comprehensive programme that was rolled out in March last year to help companies and residents overcome the economic challenges brought about by the health outbreak.
The programme’s zero-cost facility enables banks to access some 50 billion dirhams in funds to help customers get temporary relief in terms of their repayments and interest due on their borrowings.
As of March 2021, more than 320,000 bank customers, including individuals, small to medium-sized enterprises and other private corporations have benefitted from the facility.
Ratings agency S&P had said on Sunday that problem loans at banks across the UAE are likely to increase further once the relief support is lifted.
“We expect [the] banking sector’s problem loans to increase further once the regulatory forbearance measures are lifted and banks start to account for the impact of the economic shock,” S&P said.
(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)
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© ZAWYA 2021