x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Abu Dhabi slashes red tape and costs for new businesses

The capital has unveiled raft of reforms to boost private enterprise, drive diversification in the non-oil sector and ease path for small and medium companies

Abu Dhabi // Red tape and delays in starting a business are to be slashed and the cost cut almost in half in a raft of reforms to boost the private sector.

Awarding at least 10 per cent of government contracts to private companies, cutting the time required to obtain a construction permit and overhauling laws on the private sector were among 29 initiatives announced yesterday by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

The moves come as the Government seeks to accelerate the role of private enterprise in driving diversification and raise the contribution of the non-oil sector from the 2005 level of 40 per cent of the Abu Dhabi economy to 64 per cent by 2030.

The initiatives are part of the department's 2013-2016 strategy but it aims to meet the targets this year. They include a database of private-sector companies, a consumer protection and market surveillance centre, an export promotion agency and a federal level credit rating agency for small and medium-sized businesses.

The cost of starting a business will be cut from from 10 per cent of gross national income per capita to 6 per cent. UAE gross national income per capita was valued at Dh150,000 in 2011, indicating a cut of more than Dh5,500.

The department will also launch a commercial business centre to cut the paperwork and time taken to register a business. A specialised unit to support partnership between the public and private sectors and a draft public-private partnership law were also announced.

"Steps of this kind can start to create a framework to help companies prosper but it is only the first step on a long path for Abu Dhabi to make a vibrant and competitive private sector," said Simon Williams, chief economist of the Middle East and North Africa for HSBC. "I will be interested to see how this plays out in practice."

 

tarnold@thenational.ae