KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Gulf States plan to launch their monetary council, a precursor for a joint central bank, in 2010 but the planned single currency may be delayed, the Saudi central bank chief said on Sunday.
“The (Gulf) monetary council will be established in 2010. It will be entrusted to complete other procedures,” Mohammad al-Jasser, head of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), told reporters in Kuwait.
The “procedures,” such as the launch of the single currency, “will be completed in the correct way to achieve the required results,” Jasser said on the sidelines of the first Kuwait Financial Forum.
“It may be completed one year ahead or one year late. This is not important. The important thing is the success of the project.”
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), signed a pact in June to create a joint monetary council, which will later become the joint GCC central bank.
The remaining two GCC members, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman, did not sign after deciding to withdraw from the project.
The UAE was upset at the selection of the Saudi capital Riyadh to host the future GCC central bank, while Oman withdrew from the monetary union saying it was not ready to meet the preconditions.
Jasser, however, said that he is still hopeful that the two states will join the union later.
Saudi Arabia has already ratified the pact while the three other states are expected to ratify it before the end of the year, he said.
GCC states have agreed on a number of technical criteria for the monetary union but a number of other issues remains unresolved.
In December Kuwait is due to host the GCC annual summit, when leaders expect to take a decision on the single currency.
At their summit in Bahrain in 2001, the GCC leaders set 2010 as the target to launch the monetary union and single currency, but many experts have long said that target is too ambitious and unrealistic.