Qatar approves law for single regulator

Ruling could help simplify slow, complex process of doing business in Gulf state

Qatar's emir has given a long-awaited green light to regulatory reform which investors hope will help to simplify the slow and complex process of doing business in the Gulf Arab state.

A central bank spokesman said Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani had approved a law paving the way for a single financial regulator, but gave no timetable for completing a reform first mooted five years ago.

The law provides for an umbrella body to regulate banks, financial services and insurance companies and the country's bourse as well as banking, financial and insurance companies licensed by the Qatar Financial Center, the spokesman said.

This body will be placed under the authority of the Qatar Central Bank, he said.

"The big question is how are you going to merge all of those different rulebooks. This is a huge legal problem to be sorted out," a Doha-based source in the financial services industry said.

In March, Qatar's finance minister said the central bank governor had become the chairman of the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA), in a step towards establishing a single regulator for the country.

Qatar first announced five years ago a plan for a unified market watchdog which would make the regulation process simpler and clearer for companies.

The plan was to combine the central bank, the QFCRA and the QFMA in one entity.

Currently banks and financial services companies in Qatar are regulated by the central bank, while the country's bourse is regulated by the Qatar Financial Markets Authority.

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