Regulatory Realignment will Encourage Fiscal Discipline and Diversification in GCC
Doha Bank hosted a knowledge sharing event on “Regulatory Changes and Opportunities” on 15th May 2017 at Four Seasons Hotel, Doha, Qatar. The Guest of the Honour in the evening was H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdul-Aziz Al-Nasser, UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations. Mr. Ali Ibrahim Abdullah Al- Malki, Member of BOD of Doha Bank had also graced the occasion.
The speakers at the event include Dr. Ehab Elsonbaty, Senior Legal Counsel, Head of Governance and Government Affairs, Qatar Investment Authority, Mr. Sultan Al-Kuwari, Capability Development Manager, Qatar Development Bank, (QDB), Mrs Prue Morris, Managing Director, Policy and Enforcement, QFCRA and Mr. Craig A Richardson, Partner, Head of Tax, KPMG Qatar and Bahrain.
“H.E Mr. Nassir Abdul – Aziz Al Nasser stated Qatar economy has improved its connectivity with Global economy. He had just arrived from China and was impressed by Chinese Silk Road initiative which also brings people between various countries to work together and contribute to the globalization. He highlighted that the world is coming together, we live in a global village and we are global citizens.”
Dr. R. Seetharaman, CEO of Doha Bank, gave the concept note for the evening. He said “According to IMF April 2017, the Global growth is at 3.5 percent in 2017 and advanced economies are expected to grow at 2 percent in 2017. US economy expected to grow at 2.3 percent and Euro economy at 1.7 percent. GCC economies GDP at Current prices will exceed $1.5 trillion in 2017 and current account surplus as percentage of GDP will be at 2 percent. Emerging and developing economies are at 4.5 percent in 2017. After the Global Financial Crisis regional regulators have also brought reforms. Qatar Central Bank (QCB) proactively assessed the various exposures of all the Qatari banks under different stress scenarios. The Basel 3 implementation continues in the region with capital and liquidity rules getting redefined. The new US leadership is considering options such as roll back of Dodd-Frank regulations and even reinstating some form of Glass-Steagall Act. However the administration has not put forward any specifics yet. On the local front on Public Private Partnership is expected in Qatar this year. The upcoming law is expected to attract private investments, know-how and technology in key areas of the economy, especially the services sector, such as transportation, health, education and others. VAT will be contribute to the fiscal revenues in the region and enhance tax culture in the region. In Saudi Arabia excise taxes on soft drinks is expected to be introduced in 2017. The fiscal situation is expected to improve across the GCC following sustained reforms in the form of spending cuts and subsidy reforms, aided by reviving oil prices. QDB continues to support the SME sector with various initiatives, the recent one being ithmar for entrepreneurs who have ideas and want to convert them into projects. Qatar Financial Centre has strengthened the bilateral, economic, and commercial cooperation between Asia and Qatar and to explore opportunities for firms to expand in the Middle East through the QFC platform. New regulations are also underway in Qatar for development of economic zones. ”
Dr. Ehab Elsonbaty, Senior Legal Counsel, Head of Governance and Government Affairs, Qatar Investment Authority gave insight on Qatar New Arbitration Law. He said “The new law is based on UNCITRAL Model Law, an international template for law on arbitration.” He also gave insight on the major provisions of the new law and the renewed interest in arbitration in the region with new regional arbitration centers being established or reinvigorated.
Mr. Sultan Al-Kuwari, Capability Development Manager, QDB spoke on role of QDB in supporting the private sector of Qatar. He gave insight on Qatar Vision 2030 and the journey of QDB. He explained the support provided through direct lending program of QDB, SME equity program, Tasdeer export development and promotion and Advisory services.
Mrs. Prue Morris, Managing Director, Policy and Enforcement, QFCRA gave insight on the regulatory framework in Qatar and the role of QFC and the benefits of Qatar financial centre. He also gave insight on the permitted activities and Chinese Yuan clearing activities through QFC.
Mr. Craig A Richardson, Partner, Head of Tax, KPMG Qatar and Bahrain gave insight on how VAT application will happen in the region and the impact of VAT on various business. He also gave insight on the important timelines which we need to keep in mind and the key steps which needs to be taken.
At the conclusion Dr. R. Seetharaman said the regulatory realignment in GCC will encourage fiscal discipline and diversification in GCC.