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DOHA: The much-awaited annual interface between the Qatari businessmen and the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani will take place before the end of this month, a senior official of the Qatar Chamber said yesterday.
The meeting originally scheduled for June 15 was postponed twice. It was expected to take place soon after the Eid Al Fitr holidays.
“No date has been set for the meeting until now due to the busy schedule of the Prime Minister. It will definitely be held before the end of this month,” Qatar Chamber Vice Chairman Mohammed Tawar Al Kuwari told this newspaper last evening.
He said some 20 issues concerning the private sector and the national companies have been identified for discussion at the meeting.
Qatar Chamber, representative body of the private sector under whose aegis the meeting is held, had set up a panel to prepare the agenda of the interface.
Called the Business Council, the panel met early last April and set an agenda based on feedbacks from the Qatari business community.
Asked how the meeting would tackle so many issues in one or two hours, Al Kuwari said, “We know the market and the demands of the businessmen. We have set up a joint committee with the government to coordinate implementation of the decisions agreed upon by the Qatar Chamber and the government and look into newly emerging issues.”
He said the issues facing the Qatari businessmen and investors with regard to their role in development projects and their implementation would top the agenda of the meeting.
“One of the main objectives of this annual meeting is to promote the national companies and ensure them more partnership in development projects in the country and address their concerns,” said Al Kuwari.
There are positive changes in the government policies towards giving a better role to the private sector and priority to the national companies, he added.
“There are new laws that give more role to the private sector. The projects have been specified as well as their share in the projects. But the problem is how to implement such laws,” he said.
He said the government should ensure an active role for the private sector in the forthcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup projects.
“In major projects, there should be partnership between the national and international companies. We have seen how the country suffered due to withdrawal of major companies in projects like the Salwa Road, Doha Expressway and the Barwa Commercial Street,” said Al Kuwari.
Another important issue before the meeting is the development of industry with a bigger role for the private sector. “We are asking the government to give more facilities and services and facilitate loans at interest rates that do not cross one per cent,” said Al Kuwari.
Several Qatari businessmen felt that the meeting should also take up issues like tourism and agriculture.
“The tourism law has been issued recently which talks of greater role for the private sector in the area, so we would like to know the prospects for private companies in tourism promotion,” a businessman said on grounds of anonymity.
Now that the law gives the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) the powers to issue licenses it should cooperate with the private sector to help enhance their role in the tourism sector, he added.
Another key issue is the national food security, said prominent businessman, Ahmed Al Khalaf.
“It’s very important that we improve our agricultural sector as we are a large food importer,” he said.
The private sector should be actively aided by the government to play a widened role in agriculture. He said the problem with the Qatari private sector is that it plays very safe and mostly invests in sector like construction and stock trading. “It’s a lazy business investing in stocks,” he said.
And the real estate business is also safe because one constructs a building either for residential or commercial purpose and then collects rent. He said allotment of industrial land, making loans easily available to the private sector and enhancing the role of the private sector in the country’s social and economic development are some of the key issues that are likely to be raised at the meeting with the Prime Minister.
Chamber sources say what also worries them is that rising prices might see goods and services becoming expensive so this issue is also likely to be on the agenda.