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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 April 2019

Ministries and federal authorities service fees frozen for three years

The Minister of State for Financial Affairs confirmed that there will be no more fee rises over the coming years

Federal National Council members questioned Finance Minister Obaid Al Tayer over the rise in service fees charged by ministries and federal organisations. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National
Federal National Council members questioned Finance Minister Obaid Al Tayer over the rise in service fees charged by ministries and federal organisations. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National

There will be no increase in the fees charged for services provided by any federal government organisation or ministry for three years, the Minister of State for Financial Affairs has confirmed.

The fees are charged by federal government departments for services such as licences, registration and approvals, such as those charged by the Ministry of Economy for registering businesses and intellectual property.

Responding to concerns raised by the Federal National Council over an increase in the fees charged by some ministries, Obaid Al Tayer assured council members that the federal government had already issued a statement in February saying that the fees will be frozen for the next few years.

He also reminded council members that no ministry or federal authority can raise its fees without the approval of the cabinet.

It's not the first time the country has taken action on fees in a bid to boost business.

In one example last month, Abu Dhabi announced that it was to exempt businesses issued new economic licences by the emirate from local fees for two years to improve its competitiveness and attract investors.

And in July, the Dubai Airport Freezone Authority reduced its business set-up costs by up to 65 per cent.

Saeed Al Remeithi, an FNC representative for Abu Dhabi who raised the original question, requested that certain groups are also made exempt from paying the fees, such as people with determination.

The Minister replied that nobody should be exempt from paying fees as that would lead to corruption, and that public money should be protected and monitored.

Draft approval for the long-awaited federal health insurance law, which ensures that nationals across the emirates will be provided with health insurance, was also announced during the session.

A federal law requiring mandatory insurance for all UAE residents was drafted in 2013.

“It is now in its final stages,” said Mr Al Tayer.

And a further draft law, concerning a federal budget of Dh60.2 billion expected for 2019, was passed by the council on Tuesday.

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Abu Dhabi is expected to contribute Dh17.7bn to the budget, while Dubai is expected to contribute Dh1.2bn. The remaining amount is expected to come from Ministry revenues.

The Federal National Council is expected to receive from the budget Dh205m, the Insurance Authority Dh155m and UAE University Dh1.4bn, while the Higher Colleges of Technology are expected to get Dh1.028bn.

The Federal Electricity and Water Authority’s budget is estimated at Dh6.6bn, and the Zakat Fund's Dh30.1m.

The council also reviewed the revenue and expenditures of the 2017 end-of year accounts. It was discovered that Fewa had achieved a surplus of Dh1.4bn, but did not return the excess to the treasury.

Minister Al Tayer explained that Fewa was exempt from returning surpluses to the treasury by the cabinet so they could spend it on development projects. No violation has been committed, he said.

The FNC committee also noted that there had been a 10.8 per cent drop in revenue gained from collecting taxes to Dh407.8m.

There was a deficit of just over Dh1b in the 2017 budget, the council said.

Updated: December 11, 2018 10:02 PM

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