Big-time role in offing for private sector

August 06, 2014 - 2:13:13 am

DOHA: A panel is being set up that would likely study how Qatar’s private sector can successfully enter big-time businesses like shipping, air cargo and import and operation of heavy equipment and machineries.

The decision to form the committee was taken by the Cabinet earlier and the Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani yesterday endorsed it, QNA reported.

The panel is to look into how heavy transport could be organised in Qatar, but a businessman told this daily the term ‘heavy transport’ had a broader connotation.

Qatar has enough wealth and a vibrant private sector, so if local companies venture into these businesses, it would accelerate the country’s economic progress and ensure security in the long-term, said Ahmed Al Khalaf.

And that would help businesses and consumers as Qatari shipping and air cargo companies would mean that imported commodities would be cheaper, he said.

So far there are no Qatari private shipping companies and that explains why most goods that are imported come through other ports in the region, said Al Khalaf. “Direct imports are a few.”

As a result, imported goods become costlier burdening people, he said. Likewise, there are no private Qatari air cargo companies.

QNA said the panel would study matters related to heavy transport and draw up rules and mechanisms to nationalise the heavy transport activity in coordination with authorities concerned. “The term ‘heavy transport’ has been used here in a broader sense. It includes shipping, air cargo, heavy machineries and equipment, including earth movers,” said Al Khalaf.

On heavy machineries and earth movers, he said most big construction firms working on mega development projects import their machineries.

“They send these machineries out of the country once their contracts are over and the projects are completed and delivered.”

So these machineries do not add the required value to the national economy over the long term as they can’t be utilised after their one-off use, nor do they yield any taxes, said Al Khalaf.

“So it makes sense if Qatari companies import, operate and manage such machineries and make them available for use in the construction industry.”

This would mean there would be no need to import heavy machineries every time a construction company needs them for a project, said Al Khalaf.

“This is a strategic vision. Owning and controlling the heavy transport sector can be an important aspect of the national economy.” 

THE PENINSULA

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