Infrastructure projects in Qatar are not going to be put on hold, despite declining oil prices, as the government is getting ready to make provisions for such expenses in the next budget, the Qatar Central Bank governor has said.
Speaking at a seminar on ‘Global financial crisis and Qatar’s opportunities therein’, HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Saoud al-Thani said the Ministry of Economy and Finance was continuing its efforts to allocate resources for mega projects without delay.
“Such expenditures will continue to be accounted for in the 2009/10 budget to propel the advancement of the economic activities,” he said.
Reiterating that the Qatari banks continue to “enjoy solvency and financial stability”, Sheikh Abdullah gave a heads up to the local financial institutions of the “challenges which will surface in the coming months.”
“Banks should revisit their credit and investment policies in the light of new challenges and carefully balance between their legitimate wishes to realise growth and development, and their abilities to face the potential risks,” he added.
Citing figures, the governor had all but a positive outlook for the country for 2009.
“At the macro level, the economy achieved a real growth estimated at 16 % in 2008, which is projected to continue at a rate of 7% in 2009 at a time when the developed economies are expected to slow down to a rate not exceeding 2%. Elsewhere in the GCC the real growth rates are also not expected to exceed 2%, according to the outlooks of the International Monetary Fund.
“The optimistic outlook related to the Qatari economy is based on the mega projects to be achieved during the next three years in the gas, petrochemical and other sectors,” he said.
The knowledge-exchange session was backed by Doha Bank.
R Seetharaman, CEO, Doha Bank, said, “Because of the recent growth it has been experiencing, Qatar has gained expertise on diversification and growth on multi-dimensional front with renewed thrust on hydro-carbon sector especially creating additional facilities towards environmental friendly fossil-fuel LNG.”
“Today, Qatar is one of the best investment destinations in the region in terms of state incentives; industrial land being provided at nominal prices, electricity and natural gas available cheaply, no duties or taxes for 10 years with stable exchange rates, permission of foreign ownership and so on. These rules and the framework are very investor friendly,” he added.
A panel session with industry experts PwC advisory partner Stephen Anderson, SCOR Zurich underwriting manager Doris Egli-Schaufelberger and Lloyds London class underwriter Andrew Farr, followed.
They weighed the challenges and opportunities from the perspectives of credit and bonds, surety insurance and liabilities, as well as prospects for construction industry in Qatar.
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