IMF Executive Board Concludes 2010 Article IV Consultation with Qatar

Public Information Notice (PIN) No. 11/32
March 9, 2011

Public Information Notices (PINs) form part of the IMF's efforts to promote transparency of the IMF's views and analysis of economic developments and policies. With the consent of the country (or countries) concerned, PINs are issued after Executive Board discussions of Article IV consultations with member countries, of its surveillance of developments at the regional level, of post-program monitoring, and of ex post assessments of member countries with longer-term program engagements. PINs are also issued after Executive Board discussions of general policy matters, unless otherwise decided by the Executive Board in a particular case. The staff report (use the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this pdf file) for the 2010 Article IV Consultation with Qatar is also available.

On February 16, 2011, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with Qatar.1

Background

Qatar has weathered the global financial crisis exceptionally well, reflecting the quick and strong policy response by the authorities. The sizeable enhancement of liquefied natural gas (LNG) capacity, large government support to the banking system, and increase in public spending helped sustain high growth rates through the global crisis. Real gross domestic product (GDP) growth has rebounded to 16 percent in 2010 and is projected to accelerate to 20 percent in 2011. Headline consumer price inflation is negative in 2010, reflecting a sharp fall in domestic rents, although non-rent prices have started to rise. While bank credit for consumption and real estate stagnated after 2009, credit to public sector companies increased sharply.

The banking system is well capitalized and profitable. Banks had a high capital adequacy ratio of 17.4 percent, low nonperforming loans ratio of 1.9 percent, and a comfortable provisioning coverage of 85 percent at end August 2010. Profitability was 20 percent higher in the first three quarters of 2010, compared to the same period of 2009.

Continued government investment will keep growth high beyond 2011. While the self-imposed moratorium on increasing gas production after 2012 will lead to a sharp tapering off of growth in the hydrocarbon sector, government investments will support an average growth of 9 percent in the nonhydrocarbon sectors during 2012–15.

Headline consumer price inflation is projected at 4 percent over the medium term, as rents stabilize due to a gradual narrowing of the current excess capacity in real estate. Non-rent inflation, however, could resurge as the recovery in international commodity prices affecting Qatar’s import basket and growth in domestic demand continue. The fiscal and external balances are projected to remain in surplus through 2015.

The economic outlook remains positive, with the main downside risk being a sharp decline in hydrocarbon prices.

Executive Board Assessment

Executive Directors commended the authorities for the prudent policies during the global economic crisis which, coupled with an increase in gas production, have contributed to maintaining strong economic growth while safeguarding financial stability. Directors considered that the economic outlook is favorable, despite vulnerabilities to gyrations in hydrocarbon prices and global financial shocks. They stressed the need, however, to carefully monitor aggregate demand to prevent the resurgence of inflationary pressures. In the medium term, increasing productivity in the nonhydrocarbon sector will be key to promoting economic diversification.

Directors agreed that the current expansionary fiscal stance is broadly appropriate in view of the infrastructure investment needs and the comfortable fiscal position, but recommended the authorities stand ready to adjust policies if demand pressures reemerge. Directors encouraged the authorities to continue saving their hydrocarbon surpluses over the medium term to facilitate intergenerational equity. They stressed that containing current expenditures and broadening the tax base will be critical to reducing the budget’s dependence on hydrocarbon revenues. Directors underlined the importance of strengthening fiscal institutions to support these goals and welcomed the authorities’ intention to establish a macrofiscal unit and a debt office.

Directors considered that the main challenge for the central bank will be to manage the credit cycle without fuelling inflation. Given the pegged exchange rate, they recommended the central bank rely on macroprudential instruments to help contain credit growth and potential surges in capital inflows. Directors noted the staff’s assessment that the Qatari riyal is in line with fundamentals and agreed that the peg to the U.S. dollar remains appropriate. They encouraged the authorities to develop their technical and operational capacity in the event of a switch to an alternative exchange rate regime in the context of the monetary union.

Directors stressed that safeguarding financial stability remains essential. They welcomed the creation of the Financial Stability Unit and the results of the recent stress tests, which show the banking system’s resilience to market and credit risks. Directors also supported the authorities’ plans for establishing a single financial regulator to ensure harmonization of regulation and close regulatory gaps.

Directors noted that achieving strong and sustainable growth in the nonhydrocarbon sectors requires further efforts on structural reforms. They underscored that modernizing and strengthening the financial sector, including by further developing the local debt market, will be vital for supporting private sector diversification efforts. They also stressed the importance of improving the efficiency of public spending, more effective reforms in education and training, and greater encouragement to innovation for increasing Qatar’s competitiveness and productivity.

Directors acknowledged the efforts by the authorities to improve statistics, and noted that there is scope for improving the frequency, timeliness, and coverage of economic data. They underlined the need for greater coordination among data providers and welcomed the authorities’ intention to seek technical assistance in the compilation of the consumer price index.


Qatar: Selected Economic and Financial Indicators, 2006–11
 
          Proj.
  2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
 

Production and prices

           

Real GDP (in percent per annum)

18.6 26.8 25.4 8.6 16.3 20.0

   Hydrocarbon 1/

14.3 23.3 23.1 7.7 22.7 29.5

   Nonhydrocarbon GDP

23.7 30.6 27.8 9.6 10.0 9.5

Nominal GDP (in billion U.S dollars)

60.5 80.8 110.7 98.3 126.9 160.5

Consumer price index (period average)

11.8 13.8 15 -4.9 -2.6 3.0
  (In percent of GDP on fiscal year basis) 2/

Public finance

           

Total revenue

36.1 36.7 36.0 44.1 36.8 35.0

   Hydrocarbon revenue

23.2 22.0 20.4 21.6 20.2 19.2

   Other revenue

12.8 14.7 15.6 22.5 16.6 15.7

Total expenditure and net landing

28.1 26.9 25.3 29.9 27.0 24.8

Current expenditure, of which:

20.8 16.3 16.8 19.6 17.5 15.4

   Wages and salaries

5.4 5.0 4.8 5.6 5.2 4.6

Capital expenditure

7.3 10.6 8.5 10.2 9.6 9.4

Overall fiscal balance (deficit -)

7.9 9.8 10.6 14.2 9.7 10.2
  (Annual change in percent)

Money

           

Broad money

38.0 39.5 19.7 16.9 21.3 12.0

Claims on private sector

45.9 51.3 42.4 7.0 8.5 13.9
  (In million U.S. dollars, unless otherwise stated)

External sector

           

Exports of goods and services, of which:

39,276 50,508 72,695 48,280 67,183 88,930

   Crude oil and refined petroleum products

17,840 21,083 29,438 18,384 25,566 27,993

   LNG and related exports

13,360 18,710 32,267 23,947 33,272 50,907

Imports of goods and services

-21,767 -27,172 -35,378 -30,092 -35,719 -39,552

Current account

15,295 20,186 32,197 10,013 21,922 38,774

   In percent of GDP

25.3 25.0 29.1 10.2 17.3 24.2

Central Bank reserves, net

5,410 9,546 9,832 18,352 26,786 30,706

   In months of imports of goods and services 3/

2.4 3.2 3.9 6.2 8.1 8.5

Exchange rates (riyals/U.S. dollars)

3.64 3.64 3.64 3.64 3.64 3.64

Real effective exchange rate (percent change)

8.1 3.1 3.6 13.5 ... ...
 

Sources: Data provided by the authorities; and IMF staff estimates and projections.

1/ Staff estimates; include crude oil, LNG, propane, butane, and condensate.

2/ Fiscal year begins in April.

3/ Next 12 months.


1 Under Article IV of the IMF's Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country's economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board. At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country's authorities. An explanation of any qualifiers used in summings up can be found here: http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/misc/qualifiers.htm.



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