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Kharbash sees no delay in Gulf single currency

posted on 05/11/2006: 721 views

Jeddah - There is no talk of delaying a Gulf single currency planned for 2010, despite disagreements over some technical aspects of economic integration, the UAE Minister of State for Financial and Industrial Affairs said yesterday. Dr Mohammad Khalfan Bin Kharbash said after a meeting of Gulf finance ministers and central bankers in Jeddah that the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council had yet to agree on the economic criteria for currency union.

Asked about reports that some countries wanted a delay, he said: "The target date for the monetary union is not the subject of debate. "The debate concentrates on the technical aspects rather than the political aspects."

Kharbash said the member states - the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman - had yet to agree on targets for the level of reserves, and on whether inflation targets would be based on general or core inflation. "We don't expect all sides to agree overnight on these standards," he said. "There will be debate, but as far as the date is concerned, 2010 is the date fixed by the supreme council [of the GCC] and there is no change. "He said a committee would be set up to reach consensus on the economic targets that should be met ahead of monetary integration.

A GCC official at the talks also said there was disagreement over some of the rules for a single currency.

He said some countries "want a more flexible arrangement that would make sure the monetary union would get off to a good start. No pressure, no bad surprises."

The six GCC countries in the world's top oil exporting region all have their currencies pegged to the dollar. GCC central bankers have said a single Gulf currency would also be initially pegged to the dollar and would float about five years after the monetary union. (Reuters)


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