Qatar Government‘s Initiatives will Ensure Sustainable Development Amidst COVID-19
In the framework of its recent efforts to raise awareness about Covid-19 pandemic, Doha Bank has held a webinar entitled “Sustainable Developments in Qatar” on June 17, in the presences of representatives from leading government institutions. The webinar addressed several points of discussion including the economic repercussions of the outbreak, the Qatari government’s action plan and measurements to support entrepreneurship and private sector, and the role of sustainable development initiatives in reviving the economy.
The webinar featured experts and high-profile speakers which are Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Bin Hamad Bin J. Al-Thani, Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Public Health, Mr. Abdulaziz Bin Nasser Al-Khalifa, CEO of Qatar Development Bank (QDB), Sheikha Alanoud bint Hamad Al-Thani, Managing Director of Business Development at Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), and Mr. Rashid Bin Ali Al-Mansoori, CEO of Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE).
Delivering the Concept note, Dr. R. Seetharaman, CEO of Doha Bank, said: “According to IMF April 2020, as a result of the pandemic, the global economy is projected to contract sharply by –3 percent in 2020, much worse than during the 2008–09 financial crisis. According to OECD June 2020 outlook, If a second outbreak occurs triggering a return to lockdowns, world economic output is forecast to plummet 7.6% this year, before climbing back 2.8% in 2021. According to World Bank forecasts, the global economy will shrink by 5.2% this year. According to WTO April 2020 outlook, World merchandise trade is set to plummet by between 13 and 32% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2021 recovery in trade is expected, but dependent on the duration of the outbreak and the effectiveness of the policy responses.Growth revival by Qatar in 2021 is expected to be 5% in 2021 which is highest amongst the Gulf countries, According to IMF April 2020. Qatar unveiled stimulus packages worth 75 billion riyals for the private sector to help mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Qatar sold $10 billion in bonds in tranches of 5, 10, and 30 years in April 2020. Qatar Government’s initiatives will ensure sustainable development amidst COVID-19”.
Speaking about the QDB’s response to the pandemic, Al-Khalifa said: “Because of our swift response to the blockade, we had the experience necessary and were fully prepared to effectively respond to any crisis, which is why we were able to respond to the pandemic effectively. Since the outbreak, we have launched several initiatives to minimize the impact of Covid-19 on the private sector ecosystem, as we made strategic decisions that supported SMEs. We also listened intently to entrepreneurs’ needs, and prioritized business continuity. QDB is focusing on sustainability in terms of operations as well as communication with entrepreneurs and SMEs across Qatar. Sustainability is a key driver in developing a knowledge-based economy, one of the main Qatar National Vision 2030 Pillars. Private sector institutions should focus on upgrading services and enhancing internal operations to prioritize sustainability. QDB has established a strategy for developing and promoting Qatari products in global markets, securing deals worth over QAR One billion in the first quarter of the year.”
Elaborating on the government’s strategy to contain Covid-19, Sheikh Dr. Mohammed said: “The rapid spread of Covid-19 across the world, with absence of vaccine and treatment left governments with little time to respond. Now, Qatar is flattening the curve and from an economic perspective, Qatar is ensuring a rapid but sustainable recovery. Qatar decided carefully to implement a safe and sustainable exit strategy, with continuing of the necessary restrictions on social gatherings, social distancing and use of personal protective equipment”.
The official added: “In reality, and across the world, easing restrictions is a process of trial and error. In Qatar, we never test out the wrong keys first to find the one that fits. We hold our own key to success: the cross-sectoral collaboration and the informed decisions that shape the future of our nation”.
Al-Mansoori highlighted QSE’s sustainability efforts to support the local economy, saying: “At Qatar Stock Exchange we believe we can and should play a significant role in promoting sustainability as an imperative by introducing and supporting initiatives which deal with Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues. Our listed companies cover a large cross section of the Qatari economy, representing approximately two thirds of total economic output. They are therefore key to setting the sustainability agenda and influencing other sectors and participants within the economy.”
In her remarks, Sheikha Alanoud addressed the importance of Doha Bank’s webinar, noting : “I’m pleased to have joined such a timely discussion on sustainable developments in Qatar and engage with expert points of view on how these developments are proving critical to the success of the business community during Covid-19. Sustainable development has long been a core pillar of Qatar’s vision in advancing its economy, and it has both shaped our nation as a thriving business hub and our economy as highly resilient in times of crisis and otherwise. Qatar’s major infrastructural development scheme is key to our nation’s success in diversifying its economy. Legislative and business reforms continue to shape Qatar as a stimulating business environment . QFC has achieved QAR 75bn in total assets under management. QFC also strengthened its digitalisation processes for firms’ incorporation, ensuring that all automated processes are approved swiftly. ”
Dr. Seetharaman moderated the webinar and held Q&A sessions with the guest speakers that touched upon prominent aspects, such as how small and medium-sized enterprises can make optimal use of government policies in order to fend off the adverse economic consequences wrought by Covid-19 outbreak.