Qatar economic growth to continue in 2020, says Commercial Bank CEO
December 17 2019 08:28 PM
Abraham: Qatar has very strong fiscal and external buffers. PICTURE: Jayan Orma
Abraham: Qatar has very strong fiscal and external buffers. PICTURE: Jayan Orma

Robust economic growth is forecast to continue in 2020, a top Commercial Bank official said on Tuesday, citing positive macro indicators, strong fiscal and external buffers, and improving trends.

Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of Commercial Bank’s National Day celebrations on Tuesday, chief executive officer Joseph Abraham stressed there was a strong underpinning of the Qatari economy due to the government’s “very prudent” management, particularly the Ministry of Finance and the Qatar Central Bank.

“Qatar has very strong fiscal and external buffers, and this has allowed it to absorb the effects of the blockade, which, quite frankly, is already history. More importantly, the growth rate of Qatar’s GDP is expected to continue to rise. After the blockade, GDP was 1.7% and rose to 2.2%. This year, it was 2.6% and is expected to reach 3.2% – we are on a very improving trend.

“If you look at the fiscal budget, it is expected to be a surplus this year and even in 2020 for over 4%; and then the current account is also in surplus, so all the macro indicators are very positive,” Abraham pointed out.

He also said Qatar’s expansion of natural gas production to 126mn tonnes per year, among other announcements made by the government this year, will maintain the country’s world leading position in natural gas production, providing a “very positive outlook” for Qatar.

Asked about the fiscal reforms and new laws announced by the government, Abraham said: “They are all very positive. Whenever you have a difficult situation, you have an opportunity to make good policy, which is exactly what the government has done in terms of liberalising 100% ownership, free zone areas, and visa regime for tourism, among many other reforms and policies.”

“For Commercial Bank, we have a very clear five-year strategy. We are executing strongly and the market is recognising it, so we’re absolutely on track. Share prices are also up in the past one year at almost 20% to 30%.

“Overall, we continue to perform strongly. Our Q3 year-on-year profits are up 20%, so we continue to remain committed to very strong execution, to investment in technology, and leadership in the digital space, so this is a very positive outlook for us at Commercial Bank,” Abraham added.

Similarly, Commercial Bank chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali bin Jabor al-Thani said: “The Qatari government has pursued its plans to strengthen and enhance the economy, and they have succeeded in doing so, considering all the developments happening around the country.

“There are many transformations taking place in Qatar, thus changing the country’s landscape in terms of infrastructure development and touristic destinations, as well as facilities related to the country’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. All these developments are being done by the government for the next generation.”

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