The Shura Council held its regular weekly session Monday under the chairmanship of HE the Speaker of the Council, Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud. In a meeting, attended by HE the Minister of Finance Ali Shareef al-Emadi, HE President of the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) Dr Saad bin Ahmed al-Mohannadi, and a number of senior officials at the Ministry of Finance and Ashghal, the Council discussed the draft General State Budget for the fiscal year 2021 and the draft law approving it.
HE the Minister of Finance explained the government's view on the draft budget and answered the questions and queries raised by the members of the Council. At the beginning of the discussion of the draft budget, HE the Speaker of the Shura Council expressed the Council's pride in the wise leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and his wise policies which enabled the country to occupy this prestigious position and achieve these great achievements in various fields despite the blockade imposed on it and the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
HE the Speaker added that the State Budget for 2021, the draft of which was being discussed, is a result of His Highness the Amir's directives, foremost of which is the need to adhere to proper planning, long-term vision and rationalisation of government spending associated with higher efficiency of the public sector, to enhance economic diversity, to increase labour productivity and efficiency in the public sector, and to encourage the private sector to invest. In this way, it embodies the visions and ideas presented by His Highness the Amir -- the first and foremost aim being to develop the country and serve the citizens, he said.
HE the Speaker stated that the draft budget, which is characterised by clarity and transparency, is based on adopting the principle of medium-term planning for the general budget, and on requiring all ministries and government bodies to stick to financial ceilings and continuing to allocate financial resources to complete the implementation of strategic projects in accordance with the Qatar Vision 2030, especially those related to hosting World Cup 2022 and the health and education sectors, in addition to allocating the necessary financial resources to develop new citizens' lands and infrastructure for existing areas. It will also support initiatives to develop the business environment, to enhance the role of the private sector and its participation in various economic activities while working to maintain the country's credit rating, and raising levels of non-oil revenue collection.
HE al-Mahmoud expressed, in his name and the names of all members of the Council, his thanks to HE the Minister of Finance, HE the President of the Public Works Authority and the accompanying team for attending the Council's session and responding to the inquiries of its members.
After extensive discussions that reflected a deep understanding of the budget's objectives, pillars and projects, the Shura Council praised the draft state budget for the fiscal year 2021, and praised the efforts of the government and what has been implemented in terms of plans and programmes within the framework of the National Development Strategy 2018-2022 and Qatar National Vision 2030.
Then, the Council's session continued where HE the Speaker briefed the members on the agreement that was signed last Wednesday to establish the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) Programme Office, which is concerned with parliamentary engagement in preventing and combating terrorism. The UNOCT Programme Office will be headquartered in Qatar and its activities will cover the parliaments of the world.
The agreement was signed by HE the Speaker Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud and the UN Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) Vladimir Voronkov via video conferencing. HE the Speaker said that the establishment of this office in Doha comes as an appreciation from the international community for Qatar's distinguished role in combating terrorism, based on the policy of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in this field, and his keenness on unifying the global efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and whatever its motives, and to eliminate its causes.
He added that the main tasks of the office includes undertaking joint initiatives to support the balanced implementation of the four pillars of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and relevant Security Council resolutions in the field of countering terrorism and violent extremism leading to terrorism, including monitoring the enactment of new legislation around the world, and helping to formulate legislation, policies and model counter-terrorism strategies led by parliaments. The establishment of this office represents an important qualitative leap in the endeavors of the international community, given the great role of parliaments in light of their legislative, political and social weight, and their strong and direct influence on all issues of concern to the peoples of the world, especially the issue of combating terrorism.
HE the Speaker added that the office will have a great role in unifying the vision of parliaments and parliamentarians from different countries towards the phenomenon of terrorism, and how to combat it and mobilise international public opinion to confront it. During its session, the Shura Council discussed the subject of a general discussion request about the change of an employer and travel without notice for the expatriate workers, which was submitted by a number of Council members.
After extensive discussions, the Council decided to refer the issue to the joint committee of the Public Services and Utilities Committees and the Internal and External Affairs Committee to further study it and to submit a report on it to the Council.