Qatar is still on track to implement its 2020 plan to transform the economy to zero dependence on hydrocarbon, though there could be a delay, says the country’s Economy and Finance Minister, H E Yousuf Hussein Kamal.
In an interview with CNN aired last Friday, the Minister said Qatar’s economy is expected to grow in real terms by seven to nine percent in 2009, depending on the price of oil, report agencies from Dubai.
“I think we can still reach that goal (of transforming the economy by 2020), maybe two years later because of the crisis,” said the Minister.
Due to investments in Qatar’s oil and gas sector over the past 10 years, the country has accumulated more “real investment” inside than outside of Qatar, he added. Qatar is the world’s top exporter of liquefied natural gas.
On this year’s economic growth, the Minister said that despite the ongoing slowdown “the expectations are between seven to nine (percent) in real terms”.
“It depends on the price of oil. If we take the price of oil today, we will still have some growth,” he said, adding he perceived healthy sustainable economic growth at 6 to 7 percent. He said Qatar’s aim was to become a financial, educational and health hub for the region.
Qatar still plans to be part of a Gulf Arab monetary union plan that was thrown into disarray in May when the United Arab Emirates, the second-largest Arab economy, broke ranks saying it would not take part.
“I think it’s good to have three or four to start, and we hope the others will join us,” Kamal said. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain are still aiming to set up the single currency. Oman has already said it would not take part.
The four countries have already inked an initial agreement to go ahead with the common currency plan and Qatar hopes that once a common currency for the region is in place, the Gulf region can emerge as one of the strongest economies in the world to reckon with.
Meanwhile, Qatar currently bases it budgetary estimates on oil prices since its is the largest LNG exporter in the world and gas prices are also linked to crude oil rates in the global markets.
But once its reliance on oil and gas is reduced, it would not need to base its budget on crude rates.
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