Bank lending in Qatar fell by QR15.5bn during the first quarter of this year, a seven percent decline from the end of December 2008.
The total amount of bank loans for the first quarter of 2009 reached QR227bn, compared to QR242.5bn in the final quarter of 2008.
The drop in lending over the first three months of the year came after the banks tightened their rules on issuing loans for housing, cars, personal use, services, and trade and industry.
According to the latest report from the Qatar Central Bank (QCB), personal loans formed the biggest chunk of all loans in Qatar, totalling QR56bn till last February. Real estate loans made up for a total of QR37bn. Loans for trade and industry reached a total of QR22.6bn.
The QCB stated that the domestic commercial banks handed out a total of QR165.5bn in loans, whereas the domestic Islamic banks lent QR45.5bn.
As for offshore banks, the total amount of loans given amounted to QR16bn, QR4.5bn coming from Arabic banks and QR11.5bn from international banks.
“Issuance of loans should be within reason and should reflect the current situation the economy is facing, in all its sectors,” said financial expert Abdulla Al Khater, commenting on the reduction in bank loans in the first quarter of this year.
“The economy right now is witnessing a mild slowdown, and therefore the banks’ policies should shift towards minimising this slowdown by increasing loans and not taking a strict attitude towards giving loans, so that the situation won’t reach the point where all industries are faced with lending problems,” said Al Khater.
“The Qatari economy is a very stable one, and I hope that banks would reflect that, and not follow the same procedures of being reserved about giving out loans like in the past few months. Instead, banks should formulate the requirements they have for those requesting a loan, based on each situation individually, and not collectively, holding back bank loans altogether,” said Al Khater.
Al Khater said most residents in Qatar worked for governmental entities, which meant that their salaries were guaranteed.
The most important thing, he said, was making sure that government projects did not face any funding problems. He noted that there was no reduction in the Qatari budget plan, and said this should be a good indicator for banks on the state of the country’s economy.
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