HE the President of the Planning and Statistics Authority (PSA) Dr Saleh Mohamed Salem al-Nabit said that Qatar is on the right path towards building a diversified and sustainable economy in order to achieve its Qatar National Vision 2030 goals.
In an interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA) on the occasion of the preparations for the third National Development Strategy, he said that the follow-up results of the implementation of the second National Development Strategy 2018-2022 show that there is a progress in carrying out most of the strategy’s initiatives and projects, with a focus on priority economic sectors.
He said that the contribution of the non-oil sector to the real GDP amounted to more than 60% in the second quarter of this year, accompanied by the development of the economic and logistical infrastructure, as the implementation stages of the Hamad Port and Hamad International Airport were completed according to this plan, in addition to the development of commercial ports in the country’s main cities and their services.
He stressed that the intensive use of advanced technology helps in achieving a progress in energy security, by increasing production capacities and diversifying their sources, as well as achieving progress in water security with an increase in production capacity on the one hand and storage capacities on the other hand, and establishing an advanced crops, livestock and fish production system.
He underlined that co-ordinated efforts to enhance the self-sufficiency system go hand in hand with sustainable management of the environment, including the acceleration of the implementation of initiatives to confront climate change.
He said that in general, all projects that included a digital transformation component have achieved further progress, driven by the repercussions of the Covid-19 crisis and its restrictions, noting that a quantitative and qualitative development was monitored in government services provided to individuals and the business community.
On Qatar’s economic indicators for 2021 and the ability of the Qatari economy to cope with crises, including the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, he said that the measures to contain Covid-19 in 2020 cast a shadow over all economic activities, whether oil or non-oil activities, explaining that they were more severe on non-oil activities in terms of quantitative production, while oil activities were affected by value, which at the end of 2020 led to a decline in GDP by about 18% at current prices and 3.6% at constant prices.
However, he added, that with the improvement in oil and gas prices and the gradual cancellation of measures to contain Covid-19 during the first half of 2021, the GDP achieved a growth of 14.7% at current prices and about 1% at constant prices, expecting that this year would witness a growth ranging between 1-2%.
He pointed out that the level of performance of the main sectors of non-oil activities, according to added value, such as manufacturing, construction and services, has varied according to their link to international trade.
He also said that the activities of the manufacturing industry, of which a high percentage of its products are exported, were affected by the decline in oil and gas prices in terms of added value at current prices during 2020.
He pointed out that the performance level of these activities improved in the first half of 2021, and is expected to achieve by the year-end a growth rate ranges between 2-3.5%.
Regarding the added value of building and construction and the services sub-sectors which reflect the activity of the non-current internal economy, Dr al-Nabit said that that they are expected to achieve growth of 1-2 % for building and construction, while services can achieve a rate of 2.5-3.3%.
He stressed that Qatar has succeeded in benefiting from its experiences in confronting crises and employed them in facing the pandemic.
In this context, he pointed out that the government has adopted three packages of measures represented in restrictive measures for economic and social activities to protect the population from infection with the virus, administrative measures and financial investments to support the healthcare sector and fiscal and monetary policies — incentives — for the recovery and stability of the economy.
He also noted the measures and programs adopted by the government to address the damages caused to small and medium-sized companies due to the repercussions of coronavirus, as the government established the National Guarantee Programme as part of the economic policy package to face the pandemic.
He added that according to Qatar Development Bank (QDB)’s statement until April 2021, more than 4,000 private sector companies and establishments have benefited from this programme, which employs more than 320,000 employees.
He said that in the near future, digitisation may lead to raising the efficiency of resource use, expanding the use of financial and banking services, and increasing the productivity of small and medium enterprises, which in turn will raise their competitiveness in international markets, as well as increase transparency in the business environment.
Regarding inflation, he explained that the Qatari economy, like other economies of the world, witnessed an inflation rate during the first 10 months of 2021 with an average rate of 1.6%, a maximum of 4.3% and a minimum of negative 1.4%, adding that the inflation rate is expected to reach about 2% by the end of 2021 due to lucrative export revenues.
The PSA president said that the trade balance continues to record positive values, explaining that when oil prices increase, it achieves greater returns, as the trade balance rate for the first three quarters of 2021 was about 54% compared to the same period in 2020, which amounted to 110%.
He said that these indicators give rise to optimism that the Qatari economy is strong, cohesive and able to absorb shocks and will be more resilient with a focus on economic diversification and the promotion of knowledge economy, because these are essential pillars for sustainable growth.
With regard to the results of the recently announced Qatar 2020 census, he explained that the census project is one of the most important statistical projects implemented in any country, as it is the only statistical process that is carried out with a comprehensive survey, which is an integrated photograph of society during a specific moment in time.
He said that that the census data constitutes a main base for the statistics of population, housing and establishments, which are of interest to planners, researchers and decision-makers.
He said that the results of the census showed a remarkable development in many areas in the country, the most prominent of which was the significant increase in the rates of women’s participation in the labour market and enrolment in education.
He added that the results showed that more than half of Qataris working in the public sector are Qatari women; in terms of education, the percentage of females (in the age group 15-24 years) who are enrolled in education increased significantly, reaching (96.3%) of total females at the age of education, while their percentage in the 2010 census was (65.3%), meaning that their percentage increased between the last two censuses by 31 percentage points.
He also pointed to an important development revealed by the Qatar Census 2020 related to the decrease in illiteracy rates in the country for individuals in the age group (10 years and over) to 0.8%, while it was about 3.6% in the 2010 census.
Regarding the role of the recent ministerial reshuffle in implementing the plans and strategies of Qatar National Vision 2030, Dr al-Nabit said that government structures are constantly adapting to the requirements of development.
He said that achieving Qatar National Vision 2030 requires developing institutional and organisational capabilities and providing public services with efficiency and transparency.
Therefore, the expansion in the size of the government apparatus — during this stage — through the separation of some sectors and the redistribution of ministerial portfolios will have a positive impact on the implementation of the vision in terms of facilitating the management of sectors and achieving more focus, he said.
He said that since the national development strategy adopted the sectoral approach in preparation and analysis, it is expected that its sectors will adapted to correspond to government sectors.
In all cases, it is expected that workers in the government sector will be redistributed, absorb more Qataris looking for work, and increase labour productivity, which in themselves are results that development strategies seek to achieve.
He said that the Planning and Statistics Authority is currently following up the process of completing the electronic linking of administrative records data with ministries and governmental and semi-governmental agencies, as a main source of reliable statistical data.
Dr al-Nabit stressed that the PSA, in order to enhance its human resources in planning and statistics, is keen to attract specialised Qatari cadres, and cooperates with higher education and training institutions in this regard.
He said that the Qatari competencies in the Authority have demonstrated ability and efficiency in work and skill in carrying out tasks, which reflects the advanced level of educational and training programs in the country.
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