Qatar to reschedule 15 percent of planned projects: sources

Thu Mar 20, 2014 7:25am EDT
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By Praveen Menon

DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar is likely to reschedule about 15 percent of its planned building projects for coming years and go over budget, amid a push to complete preparations for the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament, sources familiar with government policy said.

After it won the right to host the World Cup in 2010, the tiny nation, with a population of about 2.1 million, announced plans for a raft of projects that would transform it over the following 15 years. They include a new airport, roads, port facilities, railways, stadiums and other infrastructure.

The government has not released a comprehensive, detailed schedule of its construction plans, but analysts estimate they will cost between $140 billion and $200 billion through the early 2020s, paid for with the country's vast natural gas wealth. This is expected to provide a bonanza to the foreign construction firms that will do much of the work.

But so far, contract awards and work on many projects have been slower to get started than the business community expected, apparently because of bureaucratic and planning problems. If they are not handled carefully, the projects could destabilize Qatar's small economy, creating bottlenecks and driving up costs.

A government source, declining to be named under briefing rules, acknowledged that Qatar faced pressures in pushing through the projects and would have to slow some, though he stressed that construction specifically for the World Cup would take priority and be completed on time.

"About 15 percent of the projects will be rescheduled," the government source told Reuters.

"All projects associated directly with hosting the World Cup cannot be rescheduled since they have to finish by 2022. But there are others which can be moved." The source did not give details.

Qatari officials have declined to discuss changes to the construction schedule publicly. Earlier this week, the central bank governor said the government was expected to sign contracts for construction projects worth as much as $50 billion this year, but he did not elaborate.   Continued...

Qatar Football Association general secretary Saoud Al-Mohannadi (5th L), FIFA representative Gabriel Calderon of Argentina (4th R) and soccer coach Bora Milutinovic (R) pose with others next to the FIFA World Cup trophy following its arrival in Doha, on a tour, December 12, 2013. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad