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Jul 11 2010

Qatar: Most citizens want bank loans waived

DOHA: A majority 73 percent of respondents to a survey conducted by the Arabic daily Al Sharq have said they would like the state to write off their bank loans.

But there is a section of citizens who are opposed to the idea and feel that the move would prompt people to seek more bank loans and waste the money on unproductive things.

The opponents of the idea argue that people seeking more bank loans would lead to inflation as nationals with increased purchasing power would tend to buy more and more luxury items.

One of the respondents, Abdullah Al Assiri, said that since the Qatari government provides subsidy on food items for the nationals and the precious utilities are free for them, citizens shouldn't expect the state to even waive their bank loans.

He lauded the government for taking many other steps for the benefit of nationals, such as enforcing legislation to guarantee social security, and said fellow citizens tended to waste bank loans on unproductive things.

He was of the opinion that if at all there was need to waive the bank loans of some citizens, a committee should be set up to study each case and take a favourable decision in deserving cases.

Another respondent, who did not give his name and identified himself only as Abu Abdullah, said he opposed the state writing off his compatriots' bank loans, arguing that such a step would prompt them to seek more loans.

"The people whose loans are waived would seek more loans and splurge the borrowed sums on luxurious and unproductive items," he said.

The state must instead continue focusing on public spending to improve infrastructure, he added.

Abdul Rahman, yet another national, was of the view that there were some deserving individuals whose bank debts should be waived but that needed to be done by charitable organisations and not the government.

Al Sharq's online survey followed debates in some GCC countries about the government lightening the burden of bank loans on citizens.

A public debate is taking place in Kuwait on whether the state should waive the citizens' debts. The parliament in Kuwait recently discussed whether the interest burden on the bank loans of citizens should be written off.

Saudi Arabia recently decided to write off the loans of its citizens and ordered the central bank to set up a clearing system for this purpose.

© The Peninsula 2010


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