SMEs worried over changes in labour rights

 09 May 2014 - 2:50


DOHA: Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country are concerned about how they are going to cope with the changes expected in the realm of labour rights.
They are particularly worried about the proposed mandatory transfer of workers’ salaries to banks and other changes on the labour front, which are said to be in the offing
At a meeting of businessmen at Qatar Chamber (QC), the representative body of the private sector, last Tuesday, a member raised the above issue.
The meeting — of the Business Council of the chamber — was convened to identify issues facing private businesses so they could be taken up at the businessmen’s upcoming interface with the Prime Minister.
A preparatory meeting of the council to finalise the issues — tentatively totalling 23 — will be held next week.
Unlike in the past, businessmen did not raise the issue of sponsorship and exit permit to be taken up with the Premier despite anticipated changes.
Chamber’s member, Shaheen Al Mahdi, told the meeting that SMEs needed more support from the government in view of the fact that “complicated” changes were expected with regard to labour rights.
He particularly talked of the issue of workers’ salary transfer to banks which he said was expected to be soon made mandatory by the government.
The meeting was chaired by Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassem Al Thani, the chamber’s Chairman who is ex-officio head of the Business Council.
Businessman and investment expert, Abdullah Al Khater, lambasted the private sector which he said was pampered by the state. It was time it learnt to stand on its own feet and take initiatives on its own, he said.
Al Khater said a big company is to be set up under the chamber with the aim that it is able to compete with foreign rivals within Qatar and outside. 
The proposed company should be publicly-traded and part of its capital should be mobilised through an initial public offering (IPO), he said.
Businessmen also raised the issue of making Qatar’s Food Security Programme more transparent and widening the role of the private sector in it.
Businessmen Juma Al Shahwani, Mohamed Mahdi Al Ahbabi, Rashid Hamad Al Athba, Ali Hassan Al Khalaf, Nasser Al Meer, Ibtehag Al Ahmedani and Saad Al Hajri were other participants who spoke and raised issues at the meeting.
Participants called on the government to reduce its role in the economy and pave the way for a wider contribution by the private sector.
It was pointed out that some government entities were competing with private companies. This should be avoided if private businesses are to be encouraged, businessmen said. 
The Peninsula