The name and shame policy of the government in respect of eateries and foodstuff stores found violating health and safety rules is half-hearted, say critics.
The policy, which follows from a law passed late last February, authorises three ministries (those of municipality, environment and health) to post the name of the violating outlet on their website.
The idea is to name and shame the outlet so that this acts as a deterrent and the affected outlet as well as others take care and do not flout health and safety regulations.
However, critics argue that publishing the name of an erring outlet on the website of a ministry serves little purpose as hardly anyone accesses a ministry’s website.
“Those who access the websites of these ministries are either their employees or a limited number of people who have some work at these ministries,” says Mubarak Fraish, member of the Central Municipal Council from Al Gharrafa.
He said he was strongly in favour of the names of violating outlets being published in local newspapers and announced on local radio and television.
“This would act as a more effective deterrent and would also put pressure and make inspectors from these ministries more serious about doing their job,” said Fraish.
He criticised amendments made to the previous law (Number 8 of 1990) by a new legislation passed late last February (Law Number 4 of 2014) empowering the three ministries to name and shame violating outlets.
The old law (No. 8 of 1990) should have been thoroughly amended as some of its salient features that remain unchanged in the new legislation are not compatible with changes that have taken place in the past 24 years in the food industry, argued Fraish.
Citing an example, he said fines in the old law for violating eateries and foodstuff outlets had not changed at all. They should have been made stricter, he said.
When told that health and safety rules with regard to eateries and foodstuff stores are quite harsh in Qatar, he said he didn’t agree with this view. “In fact, there is nothing above human health.”
Contacted for comment, the head of the food monitoring unit of Doha Municipality, Mohamed Al Sayed, said the three ministries concerned had to abide by the law.
“How can they publish the name of a violating outlet in a newspaper, for instance, if the law doesn’t allow that?” The legislation says the name must be posted only on the websites of the ministries, so that’s it, he said.
“We are not going to violate the law by publishing the name of an erring outlet in a newspaper,” said Al Sayed.