The Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani addressing the 41st ordinary session of the Advisory Council in Doha yesterday. The ceremony was attended by the Heir Apparent H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Special Adviser to the Emir H H Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani and a number of Sheikhs and Ministers.
DOHA: The Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani yesterday said red tape should be done away with as it hindered planning and implementation.
Hitting out at what he described was overlapping of work among the various government departments, he said procedures must be simplified for the common man as well as for investors. Inconsistencies and duplication mean waste of money and overstaffing and they complicate procedures for investors and citizens and so they must be removed.
“These obstacles must be overcome even if that necessitates the public sector to be restructured,” the Emir said, addressing the Advisory Council after inaugurating its 41st ordinary session at its premises yesterday.
Referring to the May 28 Villaggio Mall fire, the Emir said lessons must be learned from it and adequate measures should be taken to make sure such incidents are avoided in future.
There should be appropriate mechanisms in place so that even if such tragedies occur, the damage caused could at least be minimised.
The Emir also called for actively backing the private sector and helping widen its role in the national economy, but said business monopolies were hampering its work and were detrimental to competitive economy.
While a number of regions in the world are still struggling in the aftermath of the financial turbulence, Qatar remains unscathed largely due to the firm steps it has taken. Real economic growth was 14.1 percent in 2011 while nominal growth was at a high of 36.3 percent, driven largely by increasing energy prices.
Several oil, gas and petrochemicals projects began generating revenues due to high value additions of these industries, while the services sector contributed the rest. For the third year in a row, Qatar has ranked first among Arab and Middle Eastern countries with 11th position in the Global Competitiveness Index 2012, which reflects investor confidence in the Qatari economy, the Emir said.
Talking of global economic developments, including the eurozone crisis and economic slowdown in emerging economies, the Emir said Qatar is fully prepared to deal with their possible impact on oil prices. The state budget (for 2012-13) has been prepared based on a conservative oil price of $65 per barrel. Government investment spending has risen to QR61.8bn ($16.93bn) which represents 35 percent of total public expenditure. Health and education have been allocated massive funds and these services are set to expand and improve accordingly over the coming three years.
Talking of foreign policy, the Emir said Qatar has no political, economic or social agenda in any other country — whether Arab or non-Arab. “We have stood beside the oppressed peoples when they were subjected to brutal repression to a degree that was intolerable,” he said of Arab Spring countries. “In Qatar, there is a vision and independent Arab media (a reference to Aljazeera TV network) that could only cover events objectively.”
About Syria, the Emir said the situation there was difficult and people with legitimate demands taking to the streets in a peaceful manner were being met with force. The responsibility for the continued suffering of the Syrian people lay with the UN Security Council and more with the Arab League.
Backing the proposal of GCC unity, the Emir stressed the need for a common Gulf currency and for coordination in security matters. He, however, said “it is in our interest and also our principles and we believe that the way to resolve any dispute with Iran must be through dialogue and by peaceful means”.