Companies applying for trade licences in Abu Dhabi may need to provide more information under plans that are being considered. Proposed additions to trade licence applications include the listing of paid-up capital and revenues for companies that make between Dh1million a year and Dh250m.
UAE government officials have been counting on small businesses to play a key role in the development of the economy. SMEs account for 86 per cent of the workforce in the private sector, according to the Ministry of Economy, while 300,000 companies can be classified as part of the sector. But over the past year-and-a-half, SMEs have found it more difficult to tap financing amid increasing defaults as banks tighten up their conditions for giving out loans.
Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, the chairman of the UAE Banking Federation, warned in November that a number of small business owners may have unsettled debts of about Dh5 billion. Gulf Finance, the Dubai speciality SME financier, in a February report said that confidence among SMEs slipped to new lows in the fourth quarter of last year, when the fall in the price of oil was most pronounced. Some 74 per cent of respondents to Gulf Finance’s survey reported difficulties in their ability to raise money in the fourth quarter, compared to 48 per cent in third quarter.
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