Abu Dhabi taking steps to avoid a repeat of the 2008 Dubai crisis
To protect itself from the kind of debt crisis that shook Dubai in 2008, Abu Dhabi has issued an official document clarifying ultimate responsibility for new debt issuance by its government-related entities
The document, revealed by the Financial Times, introduces centralised mechanisms to manage debt and restraints on borrowing by quasi-sovereign bodies. However, it does not change the level of state support available to Abu Dhabi's key development vehicles, according to bankers and analysts cited by Reuters.
The document is reportedly dated 7 August 2012 and was delivered to state-owned entities by the Executive Council. It stated that the Government will only be responsible for debt formally guaranteed by the council or Abu Dhabi law if the borrower is unable to meet its obligations.
Entities obtaining a council guarantee must obey financial standards and report their performance against them to the emirate's Department of Finance on a half-yearly basis; however the Executive Council has the ultimate say over all debt issuance, and can issue a guarantee even if an entity's finances do not meet the targets, it said.
Annual debt issuance from Abu Dhabi and its GREs should not exceed five per cent of expected nominal GDP, the document said.
According to sources quoted by Reuters, this sort of safeguard has been expected since the debt crisis in Dubai, which left Abu Dhabi conscious of debt risks. The document is meant to make GREs aware that they need to be independent, because the emirate’s Government will tighten dept issuance to avoid debt levels spiraling out of control as they did in Dubai.
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