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Cost of COVID-19 will be showing up in UAE's medical insurance soon: Daman CEO

Markets|: Dubai: Vaccinations are putting a tight leash on the COVID-19 spread – but the legacy of the pandemic will be there on the global insurance industry and the insured for some time. It could mean increased cost of insurance for health insurance in the UAE, according to a top industry figure. “The pandemic has already impacted [policy] installments and is leading to inflated costs on so many fronts,” said Hamad Abdullah Al Mehyas, CEO of Abu Dhabi’s health insurer Daman, which now extends coverage to more than 2.1 million insured. “There are new medicines that cost in the hundreds of thousands – the cost of medical services will go higher. “All of which will show up on the medical inflation rates… and reflect on the instalments (a policyholder has to pay).” Senior insurance industry source echo his views, saying that the true cost of combating COVID-19 will be reflected in the 2021 insurance industry claims. In the UAE, the spiralling costs are still not being felt in full because “All medication for the corona is shouldered by the government,” Al Mehyas added. At least one factor will remain a constant - medical insurance will remain the fastest growing category this year… and for some time to come. Read More After COVID-19, UAE healthcare sector's next challenge is to work on its rates UAE health insurance premiums up 8% in 2020, even higher than inflation gains: Alvarez & Marsal New Gulf markets? Daman, which is marking its 15th year of operations, is keeping a lookout for new market entries, with Kuwait and Bahrain mentioned as where “discussions” are taking place. In the UAE, Daman has moved well beyond its Abu Dhabi mandate – “We are having discussions with strategic partners in Dubai and northern emirates,” the CEO added. “In the past, we have insured the whole of government in Sharjah and had a presence in Dubai.” In Saudi Arabia, it’s already off the mark, with Saudi Enaya. “Any enterprise would want to be in the kingdom given the huge volumes and expected returns,” said Al Mehyas. “There are about 40 companies in this [medical insurance] space, some of them quite specialised. But there are more opportunities that we can bag there.” Systemically vital In terms of employment for UAE nationals, Daman remains one of the key players in Abu dhabi. “When we launched, we had about 200 employees – now, it’s grown 10 times that,” the CEO said. “We have in these years entered different fields, such as management of medical units. We have shifted from relying only on traditional ways to deliver insurance services to extending them virtually. “At all points, we have sustained government partnerships and kept growing the [medical] insurance footprint. We have a clear future vision that will see us go outside the borders of the UAE.” All the while keeping a check on the cost of COVID-19 on insurance…

GulfNews Business

M2P’s payments solution for LuLu Money wins top honor at the Leaders in Fintech Awards 2021

Business|: M2P — a leading API-led platform for banking and payment products, has been awarded The Best Fintech Solution at the Leaders in Fintech Awards 2021, for its pioneering work in delivering a seamless digital experience for users of LuLu Money — the digital payments offering of the UAE based Lulu International Exchange. Enabling a unified experience across 10 geographies, M2P’s solution offers multi-currency capabilities that leverages the inherent strengths of the LuLu Money app to deliver a highly customized and seamless customer experience. Speaking on the award, M2P’s Business Head for MEA, Vaanathi Mohanakrishnan said, “We are very proud of our partnership with LuLu Exchange and the outcome of our combined effort on the M2P platform. LuLu Money makes use of our cutting-edge API driven technology and the teams from both companies have worked together, from the ideation phase through the testing and execution phase, with the objective of delivering a superior product for cross border payments, purpose-based payments, and a bouquet of other financial services extended by Lulu Exchange.” Terming the collaboration with M2P as an important milestone in LuLu Money’s mission towards financial inclusion through the application of technology, Joseph Cleetus, Head of Business Transformation, LuLu Financial Group said, “LuLu Money has been envisioned as a product that bridges the gap between technology and our consumers’ need for a reliable, seamless and accessible solution to conduct their transactions. The LuLu Money app, developed in collaboration with M2P, is a finished product that we are extremely happy about, and one which competes with the best globally by providing a suite of modern services and products.” LuLu Money at present, offers a range of solutions around cross-border payments in the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Malaysia, Philippines, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

GulfNews Business

UAE's Federal Tax Authority provides relief to businesses on 'administrative penalties'

Markets|Government|: Dubai: UAE businesses found in violation of tax laws are due for some relief on penalties. This is part of new measures announced by the UAE to support businesses, and also allows for a reworking of unpaid dues on these administrative penalties imposed before June 28. But three conditions will need to be met before the penalties can be reworked to 30 per cent of the unpaid dues. • The first condition is that the administrative penalty must be imposed under Cabinet Decision No. 40 of 2017 on Administrative Penalties for Violating Tax Laws in the UAE before 28 June 2021. This is the date of the new decision taking effect. • The second condition is that the business involved settles all payable tax by December 31, 2021; and • The third condition requires tax registrants to pay 30 per cent of administrative penalties payable and unsettled by June 28 on or before December 31. What does the UAE Cabinet decision entail? The Cabinet Decision No. 49 of 2021 relates to amending some Provisions of Cabinet Decision No 40 of 2017 on Administrative Penalties for Violation of Tax Laws in the UAE. It provides relief as a measure to support businesses Once all these conditions are met, the FTA (Federal Tax Authority) will, after December 31, re-determine the unsettled payable administrative penalties to be equal to 30 per cent of such unsettled penalties. This will therefore absolve the tax registrant from paying the remaining 70 per cent and the relief will be applied automatically when the registrant fulfills the specified conditions. Of the violations and administrative penalties, 16 have been amended either in value or in the calculation method stipulated in the Cabinet Decision.

GulfNews Business

National Ambulance to manage emergency services at Abu Dhabi airports

Tourism|: Dubai: Abu Dhabi Airports has signed an agreement with National Ambulance to provide emergency medical services across all their airports. The services commenced earlier this month at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Al Bateen Executive Airport and Al Ain International Airport. As part of the agreement, 70 medical and support staff are present on site to support the airports and customers in the instance of any medical emergencies. This comes as an important step to expand National Ambulance’s services and partnerships with organisations across the public and private sectors in Abu Dhabi. The emergency medical teams will consist of Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) with the support of its Ambulance Communications Centre. “Our collaboration with National Ambulance comes as part of our efforts to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of our customers, staff, and stakeholders, which is our main priority,” said Shareef Hashim Al Hashmi, CEO at Abu Dhabi Airports. National Ambulance also provides emergency medical services for communities across Abu Dhabi, which include Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Special Olympics UAE, as well as other public events and businesses. “Following months of diligent preparation, National Ambulance is at full readiness to provide the necessary emergency medical service to all of Abu Dhabi’s airports - the airports are vital to the health of Abu Dhabi’s economy and a gateway to Abu Dhabi’s capital,” said Ahmed Al Hajeri, CEO of National Ambulance.

GulfNews Business

For the Lebanese, there is no bottom to its currency slide

Markets|Mena|: Beirut: Lebanon's currency hit a new low against the dollar on the black market Monday, continuing its freefall in a country gripped by political deadlock, an economic crisis and increasing shortages. The pound, officially pegged at 1,507 to the US dollar since 1997, was selling for 15,400-15,500 to the greenback on the black market, several moneychangers said. After hovering around 15,000 to the dollar in mid-March, the unofficial exchange rate dropped to between 12,000 and 13,000 later that month before soaring back up in recent days. The latest plunge means the pound has lost more than 90 per cent of its value on the informal market since October 2019, in what the World Bank has called one of the worst financial crunches worldwide since the mid-19th century. Lebanon has been without a fully functioning government for 10 months since the last one-stepped down after a deadly port explosion in Beirut last summer. Politicians from all sides have failed to agree on a line-up for a new cabinet even as foreign currency cash reserves plummet, causing fuel, electricity and medicine shortages. Never ending In recent days, frustrated drivers have waited for hours in long car queues outside petrol stations to fill up their tanks. Pharmacies went on strike on Friday and Saturday in protest at the central bank allegedly failing to provide them with dollars as a preferable exchange rate so they could continue working. Electricity cuts have increased in length as the state struggles to secure enough fuel to operate power stations. People earning salaries in Lebanese pounds have seen their purchasing power drastically reduced as they battle to keep up with price hikes. The country, where more than half the population now live in poverty, is in desperate need of financial aid but the international community has conditioned any such assistance on the formation of a new government to launch sweeping reforms.