'Higher oil prices have benefitted Gulf economies'

'Higher oil prices have benefitted Gulf economies' Dubai: Higher oil prices have benefited the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies in recent years with Saudi Arabia's revenues in 2011 alone reaching USD 296 billion against the budget of USD 144 bilion, a leading banker in the region has said.

R Seetharaman, Group CEO, Doha Bank, said in 2012, Saudi Arabia's revenues reached USD 330.4 billion against budget of USD 187.2 billion.

"Qatar had a robust USD 15 billion surplus in the 2011-12 despite a surge in spending on public sector wages. Qatar also had a budget surplus of USD 21 billion during April-September 2012," Seetharaman said. He was speaking at the Bloomberg Doha Conference recently.

Seetharaman also gave insights on the impact of high oil prices on the Asian region. "India, China and Japan are the major consumers of oil in the last decade. Asia has a heavy dependence on imported oil.

"Persistent high oil prices has been a burden on public finances because some countries subsidies the cost of oil. Inflation has moderated since 2011 but still remains high in countries such as India. The impact of high oil prices manifests itself in the form of inflationary pressure, budget deficits and slower economic growth," he said.

He added Qatar holds more than 13 per cent of total world natural gas reserves and its moratorium is in place on further development of its vast North Field gas reservoir until a study on sustainability has been completed.

"Qatar utilises the proceeds from energy resources for investing across the globe through its sovereign wealth fund," he said.

PTI