Most Middle Eastern citizens trust government responses to COVID-19: Report

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The majority of citizens in key Middle Eastern cities believe that their government is effectively managing the impact of COVID-19, according to a new report by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

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Governmental approval was rated at 81 percent in the region while only 56 percent of citizens in the rest of the world approved of how their city was handling the pandemic.

The report, ‘The GCC post-pandemic: Massive and fast transformation,’ highlights some of the seismic changes in government policy brought about by the COVID-19 crisis.

Revenue generation is likely to be a priority for governments in the region, the report said, adding that several countries have already taken steps to improve governmental income.

Subsidy reforms to cut government spending and new taxes including corporation tax and Oman’s planned income tax were examples that PwC pointed out.

Additional pressure will be put on Gulf economies in the coming years as more than $100bn of sovereign debt will reach maturity and have to be paid back between 2021 and 2025.

In order to raise revenues, Saudi Arabia stipulated that companies must house their regional headquarters in Riyadh in order to do business with state entities, and the government set up special economic zones to stimulate manufacturing, trade, and logistics.

Gulf governments are looking towards green energy initiatives to secure the transition to a more sustainable way of life.

The UAE’s Energy Strategy 2050 and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 “feature ambitious targets for adding renewable and clean energy to their energy mix,” the report said.

More than $163 billion is being invested in clean energy by the UAE, which aims to have half of its energy supplied by clean sources by 2050.

“GCC governments and major industrial players have realized that the traditional and dominant linear economic model of ‘take, make, use, and waste’ is unsustainable,” the report added.

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