The International Arab Banking Summit 2013 was held on 27th and 28th of June 2013 at “The Hofburg – Vienna, Austria. The theme for this event was “Civil Capacity Building in Post-Conflict Countries: The Role of Banks”. Dr. R. Seetharaman, CEO of Doha Bank participated in the panel discussion “The role of the Arab banking sector in civil capacity building and facing the challenges of post-conflict phase”. Central Bank Governors, reputed bankers and economists participated in this event.
Speaking at the Conference Dr. R. Seetharaman highlighted the Global Scenario and challenges faced by Arab countries in transition. He said “In April 2013, the IMF lowered its outlook for world economic growth this year to 3.3 percent. In May 2013 IMF had cut its growth forecast for China this year to 7.75 percent from 8 percent. The recent US Fed’s plan to slow the pace of its bond purchases later this year if US economy improves created swings in the financial markets last week. Recently IMF has indicated US needs to manage the exit from stimulus plans carefully as long period of low interest rates may entail potential unintended consequences for domestic financial stability and macro- economic policy in some emerging markets. In Arab countries in transition fiscal buffers have diminished sharply, emphassing the need to maintain macroeconomic stability in an environment of sluggish global growth. Policymakers are faced with the challenge of implementing economic reforms amidst political transition.”
Dr. R. Seetharaman gave his outlook on Qatar Economy. He stated that “Qatar’s economic growth will be close to 5% in 2013.By the end of 2013, service activity is expected to contribute more than 60% of the total growth in Qatar’s economy. Expansion is expected in segments such as financial services, telecommunications and transportation. The National development strategy 2011-16 will balance challenges of Qatar’s National vision 2030. Aggregate GDP growth in 2012-2016 is expected to average to 6.9%, out of which Hydrocarbon GDP growth is by 4.4% and Non- Hydrocarbon GDP by 9.1%. Overall fiscal position is expected to healthy with surplus of 5.7% of GDP by 2016 and current account balance will remain high at 15% of GDP by 2016.Qatar is a welfare state and a role model in the Arab world.”
Dr. R.Seetharaman highlighted the role of IMF in economic development of Arab Countries and the role of international financial institutions in Arab World Development. He said “IMF has committed to help Arab countries in successfully managing their economic transitions through policy advice, technical assistance and lending. Technical assistance missions to Arab countries in transition cover public financial management issues, which are key to building strong and transparent fiscal institutions. Other areas for technical assistance included tax policy and administration for a more equitable taxation, subsidy reform and banking supervision. The financial support provided by International financial institutions includes provision of development policy loans to Tunisia, Jordan, and Morocco underpinning governance, private sector reforms and domestic markets. They have provided support for public-private partnerships through the Arab Financing Facility for Infrastructure. In Tunisia, the African Development Bank supported SME credit lines and rural infrastructure to support inclusive growth.”
Dr. R.Seetharaman gave insights on the efforts by GCC governments in supporting SME sector. He said ”Enterprise Qatar will provide a focal point for stimulating services for small and medium-size enterprises and support diversification in Qatar. Dubai SME, an agency under the Dubai Department of Economic Development has been mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector. In Dec 2012 the UAE cabinet has endorsed a federal law that aims to support and develop small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country. In March 2013 the Kuwaiti parliament approved a new law to establish the National Fund for the Welfare of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Development. The purpose of the fund is to provide financing for small businesses. Qatar Venture market is under development for listing of SMEs. In UAE also they are planning to develop an SME exchange. Arab countries in transition can learn from SME initiatives in Qatar and UAE and can plan such exchanges in their countries.”
Dr. R. Seetharaman highlighted the corporate and social responsibility measures pursued by Banks. He said “Banks should adopt a position of advocating and practicing Green Banking, which is one of the core business philosophies that will support sustainability into the future. Banks should be active in supporting the youth of the nation and conduct numerous programmes to help develop indigenous talent whilst providing on-going opportunities for development and growth. Banks should also support social integration across various areas of society.”