As part of Dubai's initiative to help businesses tide over difficulties, the Department of Economic Development (DED) has announced a host of new measures which will allow them to pay their fees and fines in easy instalments, freeze their trade licence for a year and seek an amicable settlement on commercial violations.
These are measures on top of a series of initiatives approved at a recent meeting chaired by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, to attract foreign direct investment. As part of those measures, the emirate will scrap 19 fees related to aviation industry in order to attract Dh1 billion FDI, slash "market fees" imposed by the Dubai Municipality from 5 to 2.5 per cent, freeze private school fees for 2018-19, allow grace period of 60 days to real estate developers before issuing fines for late-payment of property registration fees, among others.
Similarly, Abu Dhabi announced a stimulus package of Dh50 billion last week to give fillip to the emirate's economy.
Mohammed Al Shehhi, deputy CEO, corporate support services sector in the DED, said the new package allows for the payment of licence renewal fees and accumulated fines through convenient instalments within 12 months. The department has tied up with a number of local banks to enable businesses to overcome any obstacles and benefit from a credit facility that would allow them to maintain their competitiveness.
According to the DED, the licensee can benefit from the instalment if fines and fees have been accumulated for more than a year. Investors can apply for the fees not to be paid and avoid fines in case they wish to temporarily freeze doing business while retaining their licence.
The waiver applies to fines issued before April 14, 2018, and for fines issued after this date, licence holders can take advantage of the offer of amicable settlement and payment in instalments. The licensee who requests an amicable settlement must not have benefited from any other exemptions following the first fine issued after April 14, 2018. As such licence holders are entitled to a 50 per cent reduction in the basic value of penalties issued for the first violation.
The DED had recently exempted companies and business establishments in Dubai from all fines imposed on them and granted them time till end of 2018 to renew their licences.
Atif Rahman, partner and director of Danube Properties, said this decision comes at the right time and will help small businesses to survive. It reflects the fact that the government is aware of the issues and is looking at the current situation minutely. Waving of the fines could have helped the businesses better in such a crucial time when most companies are suffering.
YS Shashidhar, partner and managing director for Mena and South Asia at Frost & Sullivan, said Dubai has come a long way and, going forward, these measure will further its competitiveness.
"If you look at the number of applications processed by free zones, the UAE is the best in the region when it comes to ease of doing business. Plus, a survey has revealed that the number of companies entering the UAE are 10 to 12 times higher than those entering Saudi Arabia. And paying fees and fines in instalments is certainly going to help local businesses in terms of ease of doing business," Shashidhar added.
Rajiv Kumar, senior executive officer at Phillip Capital, noted with the initiatives such as freezing school fees, reduction in certain government fees, focus and vision of the government will ensure a rapid growth for the emirate's non-oil sectors.
By Waheed Abbas
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