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Qatar can weather economic blockade with huge reserves: QCB governor

“Qatar has already had a good and unique system. We have laws established against all these kinds of terrorists,” says HE Sheikh Abdullah. “We work with the IMF and other institutions to establish our laws and audits and reviews.”

Qatar has $340bn in reserves that could help the country to weather the isolation by the siege countries, Qatar Central Bank Governor HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Saoud al-Thani said.

“This is the credibility of our system, we have enough cash to preserve any…kind of shock,” he told the CNBC news channel in an interview published early yesterday on its website.

HE Sheikh Abdullah said the central bank has $40bn in reserves plus gold, while the Qatar Investment Authority sovereign wealth fund has $300bn in reserves that it could liquidate.

“Qatar has already had a good and unique system. We have laws established against all these kinds of terrorists,” Sheikh Abdullah told CNBC. “We work with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and other institutions to establish our laws and audits and reviews.”

“We have no challenges, we welcome those to review all our books, they are open,” he added.

Sheikh Abdullah said while the central bank has noticed fund outflows from some non-residents, the amounts weren’t particularly significant.

An amount of less than $6bn left Qatar over the last month, he said.

“There is more coming in,” he said, confirming that inflows are exceeding outflows.

Sheikh Abdullah said there had been an increase of up to $15bn in the first week in the usage of central bank’s repo facility by the commercial banks.

“We have enough CDs (certificate of deposits) and Treasury Bills and Treasury Bonds in the hand — in the asset side of the banking sector, that provide them with the liquidity,” he said.

He also said the stability of the Qatari riyal, which is pegged to the US dollar, will “continue for the future.”

Sheikh Abdullah said long-term contracts in the gas and oil sectors were not seeing any disruptions.

Economists say Qatar, the world’s top liquefied natural gas exporter, has taken a number of measures such as a planned boost in gas output and new transport routes to weather the crisis.

Qatar’s banking sector has some dependence on foreign funding. Thirty-six percent of commercial banks’ total liabilities in May were to foreigners, including others in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Should the rift escalate and more money flows out, the country’s banking system has enough buffers to “meet all the requirements,” according to Sheikh Abdullah.

“We find our banking sector well-capitalised, meeting Basel III as they have high liquid assets, plus they have very good inter-banking activity inside and outside, and they are very stable at this moment. So we don’t believe there is anything to worry about at this moment.”

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