UAE doubles stimulus to counter coronavirus impact

ABU DHABI, April 5 (AFP): – The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates said Sunday it has doubled to $70 billion a stimulus package to support the Gulf state’s economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The aggregate value of all capital and liquidity measures adopted by the CBUAE since 14 March 2020 has reached 256 billion dirhams ($70 billion),” the central bank said in a statement.


Last month, oil-rich UAE announced stimulus worth $35 billion that included aid to the banking system, facilities for loans and injecting funds into the bourses.


Most of the new measures focused on easing financial and liquidity requirements for banks to free up cash for lending.


In the new measures, the central bank reduced by half to 7.0 percent the reserves banks are required to keep for demand deposits, which can be withdrawn by clients anytime.


This will allow for some $16.6 billion in liquidity to be used in new bank lending, the central bank said.


The regulator’s new measures also allow banks to defer payment of loans for companies and clients until the end of 2020.


“The additional measures announced today will effectively relieve the pressure on financial institutions … offering the required relief and continued access to funding for businesses and households,” newly-appointed governor Abdulhamid Saeed said.


The UAE, where 1,505 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths have been reported, has introduced strict measures including halting travel and closing shopping malls and entertainment venues.


On Saturday night, Dubai, one of the seven emirates making up the UAE, announced a two-week lockdown in which it will carry out tests in densely populated areas.


The bourse of Dubai has led the slide of the Gulf stock markets, shedding 36 percent in the first quarter, most of it in March. Its UAE sister bourse in Abu Dhabi dropped by 26.4 percent.


Union: 30% pay cut for EPL players would harm health service
London (AP) — English Premier League players failed to reach an agreement on Saturday with clubs to take 30% pay cuts during the coronavirus pandemic, escalating a bitter public row as their union claimed the government would lose out on more than 200 million pounds (around $245 million) in tax.


“This would be detrimental to our NHS (National Health Service) and other government-funded services,” the Professional Footballers’ Association said in a statement.


Taking on the Premier League as a whole, the PFA said the 20 million pounds being given to the NHS by the world’s richest soccer competition was “welcome, but we believe it could be far bigger.”


The union’s strident stance came after further talks Saturday involving clubs and the league as Liverpool became the latest Premier League side defying political anger by using a government bailout scheme to furlough some non-playing staff.

The government said it was “concerned” by the standoff between players and their clubs.


“People do not want to see infighting in our national sport at a time of crisis,” tweeted Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, whose cabinet brief covers sports. “Football must play its part to show that the sport understands the pressures its lower paid staff, communities and fans face.”


Liverpool, which leads the league by 25 points, followed fellow 2019 Champions League finalist Tottenham, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Norwich in furloughing staff.


Under a job retention scheme implemented to help businesses survive the national lockdown, staff can be put on furlough and receive 80% of their salaries from the government, up to a maximum of 2,500 pounds ($3,000) a month.


Liverpool said it would top up salaries to ensure staff still received the full amount but that still means using public funds to pay some staff. Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher called that a “poor” move, saying “respect and goodwill is lost” by the club.


The European champions have been owned for a decade by John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group, which also features the Boston Red Sox. Liverpool made a pre-tax profit of 42 million pounds on a turnover of 533 million pounds last year and it said “complex” talks continue with players about savings on salaries.


A meeting of Premier League clubs on Friday had ended with agreement on the need to ask players to see 30% of their pay cut or deferred. But the standoff between the players’ union and clubs continues.
“The players are mindful that … the combined tax on their salaries is a significant contribution to funding essential public services — which are especially critical at this time,” the PFA said in a statement. “Taking a 30% salary deduction will cost the Exchequer (treasury) substantial sums.”
If the season cannot be completed, the Premier League could owe broadcasters a reported 762 million pounds. Burnley, which has nine of its 38 games remaining, estimates a cash shortfall of 50 million pounds.
The union raised the prospect of a lengthy spell without games. Reducing pay by 30% over a year

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