The government of Qatar will revive plans to introduce a single regulator for the country’s financial system later this year, according to one of the key executives overseeing the sector, following a series of delays.
Qatar announced plans to merge the regulatory functions of the Central Bank, the Qatar Financial Markets Authority and the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority in July 2007. At the time the new regulator was expected to be in place in late 2008, but there has been little progress since then, as the country has focused its attention on dealing with the impact of the global financial crisis.
“Our focus and the Central Bank’s focus over the past year or so has been ensuring that the storms in the global financial markets do not affect Qatar,” says Philip Thorpe, chairman and chief executive of the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority.
“It is fair to say that the single regulator idea has not attracted a lot of attention in 2009. Now that things are a bit more stable in the markets, attention will shift back to it.”
Qatar has been particularly active in supporting its financial sector over the past 18 months, investing over $6bn in bank equity and buying up real estate and stock market investments held by the country’s banks.
Thorpe expects that the first stage of implementing a single regulator will involve a transition period to give companies time to become familiar with the new standards that will be introduced.
“There has to be a transition period for firms that are required to come under new regulatory standards to get used to meeting those requirements,” he says.
Other finance industry executives say they expect further details to emerge in the coming months.
“The initiative to create a single regulator is moving forward again now,” adds another finance industry source in Doha. “An announcement is expected to come from the government later this year.”