Qatar's GDP growth in 2015 is expected to reach seven percent, with a stable annual inflation rate of three percent, H E Ali Sherif Al Emadi, Minister of Finance said.
He noted that in past years, Qatar has often made very conservative financial policy, saying the oil price in the current budget is $65 per barrel, He added that Qatar sold oil at an average of $85 per barrel since the start of the year. The finance minister, who is also the Chairman of Qatar National Bank (QNB Group) Board of Directors, said on the sidelines of the Bank's Ordinary General Assembly meeting: "Our financial position is very strong, and we expect to realize more profits in 2015," in his reply about the possible impact of dwindling oil prices on the QNB's project financing portfolio.
The General Assembly of QNB ratified all items on its agenda, including the proposal to distribute a cash dividend of 75 percent of the nominal share value (representing QR7.5 per share).
QNB Group last year recorded a robust growth in its profitability posting a full-year net profit of QR10.5bn ($2.88bn) for 2014, up by 10.3 percent compared to 2013, and total assets increased by 9.7 percent to reach QR486bn.
"It was a historic year for QNB Group when we managed to realize more than QR10bn profits. We expanded our operations in Africa, and currently we are operating in 26 countries in the world. However, the bank is exploring new opportunities for investment and acquisition," said the Bank's Chairman.
He also said that the Group earned a significant QR2.9bn profit (over 28 percent of the total) from its overseas operations. However, he noted that Qatar will continue to remain as the most important market and get the highest focus of the bank followed by GCC and African markets.
On the issue of non-performing loans (NPLs) he said that QNB's NPL ratio was 1.6 percent, which was lower than the two percent general average of banks operating in Qatar.
While on the bank's capital adequacy ratio he highlighted that it was 14 percent higher than the required ratio, and the Bank is ready to implement Basel norms.
The meeting also approved the appointment of Ernst & Young as External Auditors for the year 2015 in yesterday's meeting.
The Chairman said QNB Group's success in maintaining momentum across all its activities was reflected in the strong 2014 financial results. Driven by the dual considerations of on-going domestic and international expansion along with the continuing adoption of a prudent approach to risk management, QNB had established its position as one of the World's Strongest Banks and re-affirmed its status as the leading financial institution in the Mena region.
He also provided an overview of the Bank's business plans for 2015.
Retaining its leading position through the continued diversification of income sources and expanding the range of product offerings' across the QNB Group was of primary focus. The continued ability to meet shareholders' expectations remained a core consideration for 2015.