Qatar’s various programmes in self-sufficiency and the country’s resilience amid the economic blockade imposed by four Arab countries since June 2017 were under the spotlight during the ‘London Summit of Leaders’ Achievements Forum 2018’ held recently at the Institute of Directors (IOD) in the UK. Speaking before the European Business Assembly, Doha Bank CEO Dr R Seetharaman said the Qatari market is expected to become self-sufficient in dairy products, citing Qatari farm Baladna’s efforts to fulfil the demands of the local market.
“Qatar has implemented initiatives such as Single Window System and ‘Own your Factory in Qatar’. Qatar’s landmark residency plan is a welcoming social and economic reform. It will attract skilled expats to have a career in Qatar. Qatar has also waived entry visa requirements for citizens of 80 countries,” he said. On the economic blockade, Seetharaman said Qatar “has emerged strong” and has brought various reforms to transform itself into a self-reliant economy. The country’s reserves are more than twice of its GDP and in terms of financial stability; “Qatar is strong, stable, and functional,” he continued.
Seetharaman also provided insights into Qatar’s economy, saying it is expected to grow by close to 2.6% in 2018. Qatar will raise LNG production by 30% to 100mtpa within five to seven years after lifting a moratorium on gas development earlier in 2017, he said. Qatar’s lending growth in 2017 was close to 8% and deposit growth reached more than 13%. Government, real estate and services sector were the contributors to lending growth, according to Seetharaman. In September 2017, Qatar inaugurated Hamad Port, which, according to Seetharaman, provides “a golden opportunity” to the private sector and Qatari businessmen to activate their business and promote the import and export of various commodities.
He said Manateq has three special zones under its wing, which are geared to facilitate private sector growth and promote manufacturing in Qatar. “A new law for Public Private Partnership (PPP) businesses in Qatar should provide an additional level of comfort to the private sector and foreign investors,” he said, adding that Qatar ranked 25th in the Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018. Qatar’s 2018 budget allocations for health, education, and transportation reached QR83.5bn or 41% of total expenditure, Seetharaman said.
The transportation and other infrastructure projects were assigned the largest share in the 2018 budget with allocations worth QR42.0bn or 21% of total expenditure. The sports sector and 2022 FIFA World Cup projects amounted to a total allocation worth QR11.2bn, he added.
Sources and photo-credits: Gulf Times