After overcoming “difficult times” wrought by last year’s economic blockade, including the challenges of 2016’s low oil prices, 2019 will usher in a “positive economy” for Qatar, according to Commercial Bank managing director Omar Hussain Alfardan.
Alfardan told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the Euromoney Qatar Conference yesterday that his outlook for 2019 remains “optimistic,” citing the announcement of HE the Minister or Finance Ali Sherif al-Emadi, who said in his opening speech that Qatar’s budget for 2019 will project surplus.
“So, we feel that the market is going to grow. We’ve seen the worst case scenario in 2017, and in 2018 we have bounced back as you see in Commercial Bank’s results; we expect substantial growth going forward,” he stressed.
Alfardan also said that Qatar’s liquidity situation “has improved substantially.”
“The government has taken a very important initiative between the Ministry of Finance and the Qatar Central Bank with the injection of $15bn, which is being syndicated internationally and we saw a lot of it being filtered through the banking industry here in Qatar,” he said.
Responding to a query on Commercial Bank’s plans for 2019, Alfardan said the bank is growing in the local market and that it had weathered most of its bad debts, adding that the bank “is clean” and that its direction for next year “is only upwards.”
In a related development, a Reuters dispatch reported that Commercial Bank could raise up to $1bn in debt next year by tapping a range of various debt instruments, as the country’s third-largest lender by assets aims to further diversify its funding sources, according to Commercial Bank Group CEO Joseph Abraham.
Commercial Bank has around $750mn in debt maturing next year, including bonds and loans, and plans to refinance that debt as “normal course of business,” said Abraham, who added that total debt issuance next year could go up to $1bn.
Commercial Bank is the lead sponsor of the Euromoney Qatar Conference 2018, which concludes today.
Alfardan said the bank’s sponsorship is part of its commitment to help realise the goals of the economic pillar of the Qatar National Vision 2030 by promoting excellence within the country’s financial sector.
Abraham added that the conference provided “a great opportunity” to hear the views of HE the Minister of Finance Ali Sherif al-Emadi and HE the Qatar Central Bank Governor Sheikh Abdulla bin Saoud al-Thani, as well as other speakers on how the financial services sector can work together to drive Qatar’s private sector and economic growth forward into 2019.
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