Qatar’s economy will be sustainable in the long-term despite “short-term challenges,” Doha Bank CEO Dr R Seetharaman has said.
Speaking at the seminar “Growing Opportunities in Qatar” at the Doha Bank headquarters, Seetharaman said Qatar’s growth in 2016 is expected to be 4.3%: “Qatar has budgeted for revenues of QR156bn and expenditures of QR202.5bn in 2016.”
“Health, education, and infrastructure accounted for the largest share of the 2016 expenditure. Major infrastructure expenditures amounting to QR50.6bn would include railways, the new Doha port, several large roadways, and the expansion of electricity, water, and sewage networks,” he explained.
He said Qatar’s banking balance sheet growth was more than 10% year-to-date in December 2015 and loan growth was more than 15% YTD. In 2015, Seetharaman added that real estate sector lending was more than 27% YTD.
“The retail sector was close to 17% YTD, contracting sector more than 23% YTD, and service sector was more than 6% YTD. The customer deposit growth was more than 8% YTD,” he said.
Citing a recent Standard & Poor’s report, Seetharaman said Qatar has “significant” strength in defending its fixed exchange parity with the dollar due to availability of reserves to cover the monetary base and current account payments over the next four years.
“Qatar’s economy is sustainable in the long term amidst short term challenges,” Seetharaman emphasised.
During the seminar, Seetharaman was joined by Qatar Stock Exchange CEO Rashid bin Ali al-Mansoori, Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Authority CEO Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida, and Amwal CEO Fahmi Alghussein.
Aside from the panel, ambassadors and embassy attaches of Japan, the UK, India, Singapore, Mexico, Kenya, and Canada also participated in the discussion.
Al-Mansoori said: “Qatar is one of the fastest growing economy and youngest stock market. Qatar has become an emerging market in recent years. Qatar Exchange’s mission is to support the Qatari economy. It has 43 listed companies. We have programmes to improve sentiment for retail investors.
“We have introduced government bonds and are planning to introduce Exchange Trade Funds (ETFs) and provide alternatives for investors. We would like to increase the presence of both foreign and local institutional investors in Qatar Exchange.”
Alghussein, on the other hand, highlighted the initiatives of Amwal. He said only 2% of wealth is managed by professionals in Qatar as against 5% in Saudi Arabia, which is even higher in developed countries.
“Hence, it is a great opportunity to be in Qatar. However the challenges of oil remain for investors. The private wealth of GCC lying overseas should also be channelised into the regional markets.”
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