Shura Council polls to be held in 2013: Emir
DOHA THE Advisory Council (Shura) elections would be held in the second half of 2013. The Emir His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani announced this while inaugurating the 40th ordinary session of the Advisory Council on Tuesday.
The inaugural ceremony was attended by the Heir Apparent His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, the Special Adviser to HH the Emir HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Chief of the Emiri Diwan HE Abdullah bin Hamad al Attiyah and a number of sheikhs, ministers, ambassadors of foreign countries and other dignitaries.
At the outset of the legislative session, HH the Emir expressed his great pleasure over meeting with the Advisory Council members, and wished them success in their important task of upholding the Constitution from which the State’s institutions and the law derive their legitimacy, with special focus on “our national interests, our human values and the National Vision 2030 which is aimed at achieving the goal of sustainable development for the Qatari citizens.” HH the Emir emphasised that the meeting holds special importance as it provides an opportunity to remind the younger generation of the efforts exerted under an overall vision as nothing is gained without effort and planning to serve the country.
While referring to “the historic changes the Arab world is undergoing”, HH the Emir reminded all those present at the Advisory Council session, “We must not only congratulate ourselves on our achievements, but have to see whether our visions and aspirations measure up to the expectations and hopes of our people.” HH the Emir said, “I can assure with a clear conscience that we really stand on solid ground, thanks to our collective endeavours.
We have always set great store by justice and equity, considering them as human values that haven’t been denied to the Arab people contrary to what is alleged. We are aware that people would not tolerate injustice forever, so Qatar didn’t find it difficult to accept what’s occurring nowadays.
We have a vision, and as such, we are not sitting secluded regretting a situation rejected by the people. We were and we still prefer that regimes implement reforms and lead the transformation in order to avoid revolts.” As regards the solid ground, HH the Emir stressed that Qatar’s economy is safe from risk after it rode out in a confident way the negative effects of the global financial crisis, and went ahead in achieving its development as per the vision and strategy that have been laid down for Qatar’s economy.
HH the Emir noted that the real growth rate of GDP for 2010 reached 16.6 percent, which made Qatar become one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with an annual growth rate of 15.7 percent in the period between 2006 and 2010, and is expected to reach above 20 percent by the end of this year. Qatar’s economy has been rated as one of the top five economies in the world, HH the Emir added.
“While most of the developed countries were suffering from a permanent budget deficit to the extent that they defaulted on their financial obligations, the State of Qatar has continued to achieve rising financial surpluses since 2000. This has allowed us to enlarge the extraction and export of natural gas to become a leading country in the world in this field.
“We are still maintaining our reserved fiscal policy, so the state budget was based on an oil price estimate at $55 per barrel. Yet, we have increased the total expenditure by 19 percent with more than 40 percent of this on public projects including the construction of the New Doha Port, the railway project, completing the New Doha Airport project besides other infrastructure projects even while giving priority to the health and education sectors,” HH the Emir noted.
HH the Emir said that despite these achievements, diligent work must be carried on in order to diversify the economy and reduce dependency on oil and gas. In this respect, HH the Emir stressed: “We must also examine the sources of strength and weaknesses in our increasing investments abroad, and the extent of their endurance in any financial crises in the future. We must also change the preparation of the State budget, so as to make it compatible with the course of National Development Strategy for the year 2011 - 2016, namely in areas such as the comparison between the programmes, plans and performance, verifying costeffectiveness, and performance evaluation under outputs and results.” In a remark bearing on inflation, HH the Emir pointed out that high rates of development, as is the case in Qatar, could create inflationary pressure on prices.
“Therefore, the government must control cash flow in the market by various means and also make sure that prices do not increase without justification, by increasing supply against demand and by combating monopoly,” HH the Emir said.
HH the Emir also referred to the increase at high rates in the salaries of Qatari citizens both in the State and public sector, saying the increase of salaries at such rates is an initial strategic step related to the increase in the rates of growth and to redress those who duly complained of low salaries. “But I avail myself of this opportunity to warn against the tendency to take that for granted.
We rejoice at the high standard of living of Qatari citizens, and this is their right in a country considered as rich. But we will be without perspective if we fail to see the risks posed by the financial reward without an exerted effort or improvement in the performance of the Qatari employees,” HH the Emir warned.
HH the Emir noted that it is significant that the stages which appear to be modest, are part of a long-term comprehensive plan comprising goals less modest and more ambitious.
And it’s enough to compare 1995 with 2010 to know where Qatar was and where it is now.
“Our people will see how Qatar will be after implementing our plans for 2030”.