DIFC to announce fiscal easing initiatives to support businesses amid COVID-19

Aligning with Dubai Government’s economic stimulus programme, Dubai International Financial Centre, DIFC, will introduce a series of fiscal easing initiatives over the next three months from 1st April to 30th June 2020 to help protect the financial services industry and all businesses operating in the Centre.

Five initiatives will be introduced on a conditional basis, offering businesses the opportunity to benefit from a waiver of annual licensing fees on new registrations during the next three months. Businesses can also take advantage of a ten percent discount of renewal fees for existing license holders in the DIFC for entities due to renew their licenses.

DIFC says it will also allow deferred payments for all properties owned by DIFC Investments Ltd for a period up to six months from 1st April 2020. A reduction on property transfer fees in the DIFC from five percent to four percent will also be applied to any transfer of property (or any part thereof) that takes place within the three-month period. "The transfer must be registered with the DIFC Registrar of Real Properties within 30 days following the expiry of the three-month period," it added.

DIFC will also facilitate the free movement of labour in and out of the Centre between other free zones, provided employers have the necessary secondment arrangements in place and employees are recorded with registry services to secure a secondment card in order to access buildings and offices within the DIFC.

Arif Amiri, DIFC Authority Chief Executive Officer, said, "The well-being of our community is of utmost importance. We are working continually to ensure all health and safety measures are implemented swiftly and effectively as directed by the relevant government authorities."

He went on to note that DIFC seeks to ensure that business operations continue operate with minimal disruption via its online services and virtual meetings. To further prevent the spread of COVID-19, DIFC moved towards streaming webinars and is planning a series of virtual business, community and lifestyle events to avoid mass gatherings.

"We are actively working to provide the best possible environment for businesses to continue operating seamlessly. Our stimulus package aims to alleviate the tremendous burden COVID-19 has on our clients, industry and economy. We are grateful for the commitment of our long standing partners, clients and community who have been working together during these challenging times," Amiri continued DIFC has applied preventative measures issued by the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, NCEMA.

In line with government directives, DIFC temporarily suspended all retail outlets, except pharmacies, groceries and supermarkets to ensure essential medical and food supplies remain available to the community. Restaurants and cafes are currently closed to customers, with services limited to home takeaway deliveries while the Centre has also temporarily closed the DIFC Mosque, prayer facilities and areas of worship in line with government guidance.

According to the authority, digital channels are being fully utilised, maintaining the ability to connect live with the DIFC Services Front Desk and conduct business. DIFC Authority has also committed to a work from home policy and has embraced social distancing at the Centre.

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