By Pratap John and Ayman Adly
Qatar’s private sector is firmly behind the government in facing the consequences of Covid-19, said Hussain Ibrahim Alfardan, First Deputy Chairman of Qatari Businessmen Association.
Alfardan appreciated the meeting HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani had with the representatives of the private sector recently, describing it as “transparent, clear and open” for discussing all the issues in the light of the current conditions due to the global pandemic, Covid-19.
HE Sheikh Khalid considered all the ideas and views discussed during the meeting and appreciated them, stressing the need to continue running the economic cycle without stop, Alfardan told Gulf Times and its sister publication Arrayah.
“The meeting reflects the keenness and care of the government to enhance the role of the private sector in the national economy. The private sector in Qatar is also keen to support the efforts of the State to face the consequences of Covid-19 pandemic. We, as a private sector, will not spare any effort to support the efforts of the government in any field,” Alfardan said, highlighting the initiatives being undertaken by the private sector since the breakout of the pandemic.
However, he pointed out that the private sector is currently suffering due to the consequences of Covid-19, and continued payment of the salaries of workers and employees without making any profits.
He said the private sector companies are currently under pressure, as they have distinguished staff and it is not easy to lay them off, while the continuation of such situation for a long period will negatively impact the economy.
Accordingly, he stressed the need to support the businesses that have been sustaining the harmful consequences due to such circumstances.
“We are all partners in the nation and we are all keen to support the efforts of the state. But in the meantime, the private sector needs the support of the State as well so the economy would move forward and resume its normal activities gradually after the Covid-19 pandemic is over,” Alfardan affirmed.
Alfardan said, “It is important to maintain the momentum of our national economy. The international organisations and the rating agencies are still stressing the future prospects of the Qatari economy, particularly its stability, in spite of the ongoing circumstances. So, we all have to support and contribute to the continuity of the growth of the economy.”
Alfardan stressed that the meeting with HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior affirmed the keenness of the Government to enhance the partnership between the private and public sectors to support the national economy. He also praised the efforts of the Government to combat the spread of Covid-19, as reputable international organisations have been appreciating Qatar’s transparency and efforts to combat the pandemic, while the preventive precautionary measures taken early by the country would enhance its ability to contain any further spread of infection.
He indicated that the commercial activities would gradually commence by abiding by all the necessary preventive and precautionary measures to avoid any Covid-19 resurgence.
Alfardan pointed out that the financial and economic incentives programme (valued at QR75bn) is very important and plays a key role in guaranteeing the continuity of businesses and avoiding a setback to the economy.
He called for giving priority in this regard for the sectors and companies of the private sector that were “harmed the most” due to the situation.
He said the “gradual and organised” return of business activities at the Industrial Area was a “pressing necessity” because it is considered as a hub for the economic activities in the country, where most of the services that guarantee the continuity of businesses are concentrated.
Yet, it is very important for the private sector to strictly follow all the directives and guidelines with regard to the precautionary measures that have been taken to secure everyone’s safety and health.
Alfardan hoped that both the economy and the private sector would resume their normal activities, pointing out that the private sector has proven its resilience throughout the last three years, when an unjustified blockade was imposed on the country.
The private sector has been a “key arm of the state” to overcome the unjustified blockade that was imposed on the country by way of boosting the flow of goods to the market and launching many new projects.
For instance, he said, Qatar’s medical industry has seen considerable development, food industry become highly advanced and agriculture projects have seen tremendous growth, which achieved self-sufficiency for the country in relation to many necessary food products.
Additionally, these have guaranteed the “uninterrupted flow” of agriculture products in the local market, attaining the desired balance of meeting consumer needs at reasonable prices.
Alfardan said the businessmen have a sincere desire to enhance co-operation between the private and public sectors in various key areas.
Besides, he welcomed HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior’s statement about the possibility of the private sector benefiting from the privileges and benefits provided by Qatar Free Zones.
He said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the Qatari Businessmen Association and the Qatar Free Zones Authority (in February) aims at boosting co-operation in achieving the economic targets and the desired economic diversification in Qatar.
The enhanced co-operation between the two entities envisaged by the MoU would benefit local and foreign investors alike to further support economic and investment growth in the country.
Alfardan explained that the upcoming period will witness the practical implementation of the MoU.
During the meeting with HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, also talked about the potential benefits for the private sector from the advantages, privileges, sophisticated infrastructure and others at the Qatar Free Zones, which include allowing investors to make use of the available basic infrastructure and logistic services, in addition to benefits related to taxation among other privileges.
This would give the private sector an excellent opportunity to invest in one of the best free zones in the region and the Middle East, as the Qatari private sector would be working side by side with the leading international firms that have recently joined the Qatar Free Zones.
This, Alfardan noted, would eventually increase the experiences of the Qatari private sector and business within a business environment that enjoys stimulation and competitiveness.
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