Qatar Central Bank FX Holdings Cushioned by IMF Accounting Tip

  • Central bank adds billions in previously unreported assets
  • Net international reserves are down more than 40% since June

Qatar’s central bank has added the equivalent of about $19 billion of previously unreported foreign-currency assets to its total reserves in August based on an International Monetary Fund recommendation, a move that helps offset the impact of the Saudi-led embargo.

By adding “other liquid assets in foreign currencies,” the central bank’s total holdings show a decline of 15 percent to 141.84 billion riyals ($39 billion) compared with May, a month before Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar. Total holdings under the previous method referred only to net international reserves, which have dropped more than 40 percent in the same period to $19.8 billion, the data show.

The central bank had delayed the release of its reserve data for weeks amid a political crisis that reduced foreign bank deposits and hurt economic growth prospects that were already dimmed because of lower energy prices. The new method was implemented in July based on the advice received during an IMF mission visit last year, the regulator said.

Foreign securities held by the central bank declined to 21 billion riyals in August from 27 billion riyals a month earlier and 82.5 billion riyals in May. "Other liquid assets" rose slightly to 69.6 billion riyals in August from 68.2 billion riyals a month earlier, up from 38.5 billion in May. The central bank said balances with foreign lenders rose 14.4 billion riyals in August to 45.2 billion riyals, the highest in at least two years.

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