Abu Dhabi Executive Committee unveils details of the economic development accelerators stimulus

ABU DHABI, The Executive Committee of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council revealed today the details of the first pillar of the Abu Dhabi Development Accelerator Programme ‘Ghadan 21’, which was endorsed this week by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

A major part of three-year AED50 billion development plan for Abu Dhabi, the first pillar aims to stimulate business and investment and promote economic development in the Emirate. It includes 30 initiatives, under four themes, namely, improving the competitiveness of the business environment, supporting and enabling SMEs, strengthening the private sector across the board and in critical sectors, and increasing transparency and engaging with Abu Dhabi businesses.

A set of new licenses have been launched, benefitting over 500 companies. The new licenses include the All in One TAMM package, which enables 91 per cent of commercial activities to obtain licenses under 5 minutes, and the Tajer Abu Dhabi license, which was expanded to benefit all nationalities and cover over 1,000 commercial activities, thus allowing businesses to operate without a commercial lease. Other licensing initiatives include the issuance of a dedicated start up license from the Abu Dhabi Global Market, and dual licenses which allow companies in Abu Dhabi free zones to work onshore and enter government bids.

Other initiatives aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the business environment include revising building regulations and lowering construction costs. This is done by making all zoning and regulatory information for all plots across the Emirate available online by end of October and speeding up the process of issuing building permits to be done within 10 days including approvals required from other entities. A new Building Law is currently in the final drafting stage and will lower the cost of building and owning property while encouraging the highest standards in Abu Dhabi.

A new working capital credit guarantee programme will be launched before the end of 2018 in major Abu Dhabi banks, and will offer SMEs access to more affordable and easily available financing. Over the course of the next three years, the programme is expected to unlock over AED10 billion in SME loans from local banks, and lower interest rates.

Other initiatives supporting SMEs include establishing a hub for SMEs with direct access to financing and venture capital, with a focus on tech companies in particular; an acceleration programme to support the growth of mid-sized companies in domestic, regional and international markets; a small claims courts targeting the needs of SMEs; and a digital platform providing a suite of services to SMEs, facilitating access to government procurement.

A new Public-Private Partnership (PPP) law, which will support local and international investment opportunities, will be issued soon. A first wave of 3-5 PPP projects will be tendered by Q1 2019. Valued at over AED3 billion, these projects will include housing developments, roads and infrastructure, energy and healthcare. In addition, a dedicated Center of Excellence for PPPs will be launched and will oversee the relationships with domestic and international investors.

The Abu Dhabi government is expected to adopt a new local content policy in Q1 2019, which will provide preferential procurement in government tenders to local services and products, covering 50 per cent of current government spend categories.

In an effort to support tourism, one of the Emirate’s most important growth sectors, a set of new incentives and streamlined regulatory framework. Those incentives comprise the reduction of taxes on tourism activities, including a reduction of 2.5 per cent in tourism fees, a 2 per cent in municipality fee and AED5 a night hotel fee, to encourage new investments in the sector.

The expansion of the Abu Dhabi Advantage to activate an all year-round business and leisure calendar, in addition to city-wide activations and entertainment events suitable for all ages and demographics. In addition, five special tourism destinations were created with dedicated incentive to support the private sector and develop the eco-tourism and recreational maritime activities in desert areas, mangroves, islands, Mirfa area and Al Ain. A budget of over AED500 million has been allocated for the next three years to promote Abu Dhabi as a tourism destination regionally and globally.

Additional sector-specific development funds will be established, in conjunction with incentives similar to those of tourism, with industry being the top priority for such initiatives.

The Abu Dhabi government started settling all non-contested dues to private companies in a process that will be concluded by 15th of November. The government is also making structural changes to its payment process to ensure private sector contractors are paid in a timely manner. A new legislation will be announced in 30 days which aims to regulate the payment process in the public & private sector and ensure dues are paid in a timely manner by regulating payment periods.

In addition, a new platform, named ‘Sharaka’ (meaning partnership in Arabic), was launched to allow open and transparent dialogue between the private sector and government, regarding vital issues, including dues. The government will also be hosting a monthly forum to meet with the private sector to take their feedback and suggestions, and listen to their complaints.

Over the course of the next few days, the Executive Committee plans to release details about the remaining three pillars of the ‘Ghadan 21’ programme, namely Society, Knowledge & Innovation, and Liveability.

Source: Emirates News Agency