Local News – 28-Sep-2019

World Bank Names Qatar as One of Top 20 Countries in Improving Ease of Doing Business

he World Bank listed Friday the State of Qatar as one of the top 20 countries in the world in terms of their improvement to the ease of doing business 2020 score. The report said that the 20 countries were chosen out of a total of 190 countries.

The Doing Business report’s committee selects the economies that implemented reforms making it easier to do business in three or more of the 10 areas included in this years aggregate ease of doing business score. Regulatory changes making it more difficult to do business are subtracted from the number of those making it easier. Second, Doing Business sorts these economies on the increase in their ease of doing business score due to reforms from the previous year (the impact due to changes in income per capita and the lending rate is excluded). The improvement in their score is calculated not by using the data published in 2018 but by using comparable data that capture data revisions and methodology changes when applicable. The choice of the most improved economies is determined by the largest improvements in the ease of doing business score among those with at least three reforms.

The ease of doing business committee, which was formed based on directives of HE the Prime Minister with representatives of different designated authorities and ministries as members, did a study on how to improve the business climate. This study eventually led to the State of Qatar’s advancement in three of the 10 indicators used by the World Bank’s report.

The report said that “Qatar embarked on an ambitious program to modernize public services. Kahramaa, the water and electricity utility company, introduced a new process to receive and review applications through its online portal, reducing the time to obtain an electricity connection. The ministry of justice streamlined property registration procedures and improved the quality of its land administration system by publishing official service standards and court statistics on land disputes. Lastly, the credit bureau started reporting credit data from a telecommunications company.”

Head of the committee Ahmed Al Mohannadi said that the developments made to the business climate was only the beginning, stressing that the coming period will see a focus on laws and regulations that will be issued in coordination with the World Bank.

Qatar’s DPM Meets Foreign Ministers of Paraguay, Iran, Italy, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco and Indonesia

HE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani held Friday separate meetings with HE Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Paraguay Antonio Rivas Palacios, HE Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammed Javad Zareef, HE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Italy Luigi Di Maio, HE Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic Nikos Dendias, HE Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan Chingiz Aidarbekov, HE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the Kingdom of Morocco Nasser Bourita, HE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia Retno Marsudi, on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly in New York.

The meetings focused on reviewing bilateral relations and the means of enhancing then, in addition to discussing issues of joint interest.

QNB Reviews Monetary Stance of US Fed FOMC Members

Qatar National Bank (QNB) reviewed in its weekly economic commentary on Saturday the monetary stance of members of the US Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

QNB said that the US Federal Reserve (Fed) has decided to cut rates for the second time in eleven years at its latest monetary policy meeting in September 17-18th. The target range for the benchmark fed funds rate was adjusted down by another 25 basis points (bps) to 1.75-2%. Official reasons for the cut included the “implication of global developments for the economic outlook as well as muted inflation pressures.” This rate cut was widely anticipated.

Out of nine voting members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), there were three dissents, including two “hawkish” votes against the cut (Esther George and Eric Rosengren) and one “dovish” vote for a deeper cut of 50bps (James Bullard). Dissent in opposite directions are relatively rare in the history of the Fed.

In addition to that, the forward guidance (communication about official expectations of future policy actions) is suggesting a continuation of the current divergence. This is manifested in the “dot plot” or year-end forecasts of interest rates from all FOMC members. Out of 17 FOMC members, including both voting and non-voting members, a significant minority of seven members has projected a third rate cut in 2019. Most importantly, however, five members have decided to effectively show dissent against the most recent rate cut by submitting end-2019 dots of 2-2.25%, 25 bps above the actual rates.

QNB said that a closer look at recent comments from FOMC members helps us understand the underlying reasons behind the divisions. The analysis identified at least three main topics of disagreement between “hawks” (supporters of less monetary stimulus) and “doves” (supporters of more monetary stimulus).

First, hawks tend to play down global uncertainty and emphasize the need for the materialization of risks before more supportive monetary policy actions are taken. Doves, on the other hand, believe risks and uncertainty are already amplifying challenging global conditions, suggesting monetary policymakers should try and get “ahead of the curve” or act more preventively, according to QNB.

Second, hawks tend to be more skeptical about the argument that the relationship between unemployment and inflation (Philips curve) is broken, i.e., that low levels of unemployment do not necessarily translates into higher future inflation. Hawks have been often pointing to multi-decade low levels of unemployment and episodic upticks in inflation to defend less supportive monetary policy. Doves argue that secular or long-term structural reasons have weakened the Philips curve considerably and therefore low levels of unemployment are less likely to produce a “inflation scare” or sudden rise in inflation expectations. Moreover, as inflation has undershot the target for several years, doves are more worried about a potential anchoring of long-term inflation expectations significantly below the 2% target.

Third, hawks tend to be more concerned about the potential impacts of excessively accommodative monetary policy on financial stability. Hawks are particularly worried about the bad incentives that low rates for longer can create, including capital misallocation and high indebtedness.

In conclusion, QNB said: “At of the time of writing, we view the FOMC as equally split between hawks and doves, with a higher number of more neutral members who are neither hawks nor doves. Given the lack of consensus about the path of policy rates, we expect the Fed to remain ‘behind the curve,’ i.e., acting reactively instead of pro-actively. However, as we view warning signs in leading economic indicators pointing to a more significant US slowdown, we expect neutral members to become doves. Hence, we expect one more 25bps rate cut in 2019 and further easing in 2020.”

World Athletics Championships: Six Gold Medals to be Decided today

Six gold medals will be decided on Saturday, the second day of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, including those in the shortest and longest distances on the overall program.

The IAAF World Athletics Championship kicked off at Khalifa International Stadium and on Doha Corniche on Friday and will continue until October 6.

Traditionally, the 100m is a highlight, and the men’s title will be the final event at Khalifa International Stadium. Following that, the men’s and women’s 50km race walks will be decided on the Corniche.

There will also be heats of the first-ever mixed relay on a World Championships program – the 4x400m – leading to the final on day three.

Qatari athlete Awab Othman Baro will compete in the 100m race, while Abu Bakr Haidar will compete in the 800m race alongside teammate Jamal Hiran.

In the men’s 100m, world silver medalist Christian Coleman, the year’s fastest, will be hoping to move up a step this time around. Andre De Grasse, Akani Simbine, Hakim Sani Brown and Yohan Blake will be among many fancying their chances in a wide-open field, but first they must get through to semi-finals earlier in the evening. (Photo Credits: MOI Qatar)