ABU DHABI / WAM
The CEO Advisory Council of the UAE Banks Federation (UBF) has held its first meeting for 2016 chaired by the Chairman of the Federation, AbdulAziz Al Ghurair. Top of the Council’s agenda was the UBF plan to support Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
The Advisory Council agreed on a plan to support and alleviate pressure on SMEs facing difficulties repaying bank loans. The plan, developed by the federation in late 2015, creates a framework whereby an SME with multi-bank relationships which is experiencing repayment difficulties enters a process whereby the lending banks co-ordinate their position and work to assist the company in restructuring its future repayments. The plan includes the availability of an interim suspension of payment and the creation of a conciliation role to assist all parties to reach agreement.
AbdulAziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of the UBF, commented, “As we face a more challenging period for the banking industry, it is important for us to focus on areas where we can improve our performance. Lending to SMEs is a high priority for us and we have agreed now on a plan which will definitely be a win-win for all involved. This again reflects banks commitment to apply a co-ordinated approach, to alleviate SME funding difficulties and continue banks support to the SME sector being vital to the national economy. I congratulate the SME and Wholesale Committees for their exceptional efforts to bring this important project to this stage so quickly.”
The council also discussed the lifting of sanctions against Iran. A presentation was given to the meeting by Waheed Rathore, Chairman of the Federation’s Compliance Committee about the ramifications of the likely change in trade and investment flows with Iran and the commitments that have to be met before sanctions are formally lifted.
Another topic on the council’s agenda was the decriminalisation of issuing cheques against accounts without sufficient funds to honour them. Dr. Nimer Basbous, Chairman of the Federation’s Legal Committee, briefed CEOs on the main scenarios which could reduce the number of legal cases ensuing, some of which lead to the imprisonment of offenders, and which may pave the way for decriminalisation. These include, among others, the introduction of a bankruptcy law in the UAE, the creation of an assets registry law, and the establishment of specialised commercial courts.
Bassem Itani, Chairman of Risk Management Committee, briefed CEOs on the common practice pursued with write off policies and reporting standards in line with regulatory requirements and international financial reporting and accounting standards.
Finally, the council shortlisted key and high priority topics for consideration to discuss in the future.