Qatar pours more billions into local banks

DUBAI • Qatari authorities stepped up their support of domestic banks for the third month in a row in August in an attempt to offset foreign withdrawals as the showdown between the Gulf emirate and a Saudi-led alliance show no sign of abating.

Public-sector deposits in the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas grew by 10.5% to 295 billion riyals (RM335.71 billion) from 267 billion riyals in July, according to central bank data. That bring the increase to about 53 billion riyals since the crises broke out more than three months ago.

The support helped total deposits grow 5% to 645 billion riyals even as non-resident deposits declined for a third straight month to 149 billion riyals, the data show. They stood at 171 billion in June.

The Qatari economy is bearing the brunt of the Saudi-led boycott, with economists expecting gross domestic product to grow at the slowest pace since 1995. Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the country’s sovereign wealth fund, pumped almost US$40 billion (RM167.82 billion) of its US$340 billion of its “financial reserves to support its economy and financial system during the first two months of the stand-off”, Moody’s Investors Service said in a report on Sept 13. The QIA sold a block of shares in luxury jewellery retailer Tiffany & Co weeks after reducing its stake in Credit Suisse Group AG.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed their diplomatic and transport links with Qatar on June 5, accusing the small nation of supporting terrorist groups, cozying up to Iran and meddling in their internal affairs. Qatar denies the charges. — Bloomberg