QCB chief to also head QFCRA
DOHA QATAR Central Bank Governor Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud al Thani has taken over as the chairman of the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA), said Minister of Economy and Finance HE Yousef Hussain Kamal on Monday.
“With effect from March 7, the central bank governor becomes chairman of the QFCRA as part of the process of unifying the regulatory regime,” the minister said in his address at the 6th Annual MultaQa Qatar Insurance and Reinsurance conference hosted by the Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA), in Doha.
Speaking about the growth of insurance in the country, the minister said that the insurance culture is rapidly changing in Qatar, with more and more people taking policies unlike before.
“Years back, most people in the country never thought of insurance, but now, there is increasing awareness with more people taking life, health and car insurance among others, which is good for the economy” he said.
He said that the health insurance law on is under consideration of the council of ministers and the implementation is expected to take place in a couple of months.
He called on the insurance and reinsurance companies to increase their presence in the country by establishing offices in order to benefit from the government’s health insurance policy. Speaking on Qatar’s National Development Strategy, the minister said that the country plans to execute up to 194 infrastructure and hydrocarbon projects between 2011 and 2016 at an estimated cost of $140-150 billion.
He said the country is boosting other sectors with focus on external investments to shift emphasis from oil and gas, which presently constitutes about 64 percent of the GDP.
“Our external investment strategy is to invest in areas that can generate revenue aside from oil and gas by 2030. We concentrate on investments in areas where there can be transfer of knowledge, which can be developed and commercialised to play a positive role in the external market,” the minister said. He said that was one of the reasons for the establishment of the Qatar Science and Technology Park.
Speaking at the event, the Director of International Markets at Lyold’s of London Jose Ribeiro said that 2011 was the worst year on record for the insurance and reinsurance industry globally in terms of the amount of claims paid.
“The industry paid out a record $107 billion in claims as a result of the different catastrophes that occurred in that year with Japan alone accounting for $35 billion dollars out of the amount due to the tsunami and earthquake that ravaged the country.” He said claims from Thailand were over $10.7 billion, USA $19 billion while Australia received $2.4 billion in claims.
Addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the event, QFCA Acting CEO and Chief Strategic Officer Shashank Srivastava said that the country has witnessed a growth rate of 25 percent for life insurance and 20 percent for non-life insurance with close to $1 billion in premium over the last five years.
“The growth rate is highly encouraging and the potentials for insurance in Qatar are phenomenal,” he said.
He expressed disappointment at the level of insurance penetration, which is still below 1 percent, and said more work needed to be done to ensure that people take up insurance policies.
“The insurance penetration rate in the country stands at the moment at 0.9 percent, which is not encouraging for an economy, the size of Qatar’s,” he added.
He attributed the low penetration rate to the rapid economic growth, with which the insurance sector is taking time to catch up and the different lines of business, like health insurance, that were not available in the country until now.