Budget to emphasise on private sector, FIFA 2022: Finance Minister

 06 Dec 2017 - 8:49

Budget to emphasise on private sector, FIFA 2022: Finance Minister

By Satish Kanady | The Peninsula

Qatar is aiming at a ‘near total self-sufficiency’ in food security. The budget for the new fiscal will see a significant focus on private sector and boosting country’s food security agenda. The annual budget proposal will also have its emphasis the country’s SMEs sector and the FIFA-related projects, Finance Minister H E Ali Shareef Al Emadi revealed yesterday.

In candid on-stage interview at ‘The Euromoney Qatar Conference’, opened in the presence of Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Minister said : “In the past, our policy was to avoid competition with other nations in the GCC, which created some challenges with food security and the import of medicines, among other areas. In the future, our policies will differ. For example, we are already more than 40 percent self-sufficient in dairy, which will move to 100 percent in the future.”

In fact, the government’s desire to strengthen the role of the private sector began three years ago, but the unprecedented blockade on Qatar forced the country to speed up the process.

The minister said there will always be talk about backing for the private sector and promoting it. 

The country will extend an unflinching support to the private sector. The sector will play a major role, especially in relation to food security, healthcare and agriculture.

Despite the blockade, Qatar has managed a large increase in its exports and imports, which enables it to provide alternative routes to import goods that the siege countries used to provide. 

This contributed to promoting the strength and robustness of Qatar’s economy during this time, where through Hamad Port, the state was able to receive shipments from more than 80 ports and has contact with more than 160 countries through Hamad International Airport, in addition to its good connection with a number of countries. 

The Minister said Qatar will maintain its base oil price at $45 in the 2018 budget proposal, though it is expected that oil prices can be as high as $60 per barrel. 

Al Emadi said the non-oil sectors and the private sector can grow by 2.5 to 3 percent in 2018, which is a relatively distinct growth.

On the subsidy issue, Finance Minister H E Ali Shareef Al Emadi said the government will not shy away from giving subsidies to the deserving sectors. ‘Subsidy’ is not a bad word for the government and the government will continue its subsidy policies.

The government believes subsidies are good for economy if it is driven well. “Europe is giving subsidies; the entire advanced nations are giving subsidies. We will continue without subsidy polices and it will be allocated the way it will help economy to grow,” he said.

It is important to look into Qatar’s performance in the past decade and how it affected its direction during the crises. Everyone expected Qatar will face major obstacles in the first few weeks of the blockade; however it was able to recover from the initial wobble.

As part of the recovery, Qatar invested in the infrastructure, Qatar Airways, leading funds, the central bank, ports and airports, confirming that investing in the infrastructure alone is a shock absorbent. Qatar is looking to transform its economy more competitive to attract more foreign investments. The country’s upcoming free trade zone will be a pillar to the Qatari economy. 

The Qatari economy has performed well during the current crisis since it is an economy that works on diversity and the lack of reliance on oil and gas as the main source of income. Qatar’s growth is to be higher than other GCC countries in 2017 despite the fall in oil prices, the minister said.