5 November 2013
His Highness the Amir’s Speech at the Opening of the 42nd Session of the Shura Council
In the name of Allah, and with His blessing, Glory be to Him, I announce the opening of the forty-second session of the Shura Council.
Dear brothers, members of the Shura Council,
With the opening of the ordinary annual session of your esteemed Council, I greet you, wishing you fruitful work, and I am confident that your deliberations will be constructive and useful, as you have always done to us, and that the Council will be full of your valuable contributions to enriching the legislative work, and creating the necessary legal frameworks to regulate the various aspects of activities in the State, and in advancing the development process towards its goals.
Dear brothers, we can summarize the development goals, including Qatar Vision 2030, in three words: building the nation and the citizen. From them derive the major tasks entrusted with the leadership of the state.
We consider building institutions based on rational management of resources, professional standards, measures of productivity and efficiency, serving the public interest on the one hand, and concern for the welfare of citizens, qualifying them for productive and useful work, and raising them to find meaning for their lives in the service of their country and society on the other hand, as two aspects of the development process to which we aspire.
As you know, the comprehensive development of our country has been and continues to be our main concern, believing that integrated and balanced development is the way to establish a modern State that responds to the requirements of the times and achieves for Qatar the leading position to which we aspire and the Qatari people the decent standard of living that befits them, without giving up our authentic Qatari-Arab affiliation and our tolerant Islamic faith.
We praise Allah, the Almighty, that with His help, we are continuing the right path initiated by His Highness the Father Amir in achieving the bulk of our goals.
On the economic side, despite the lack of clarity regarding the global economy and the instability that prevents full recovery from the successive crises suffered by many advanced and emerging economies alike, the Qatari economy continues its achievements, achieving the best results in accordance with the vision and strategy set for it.
Real GDP in 2012 grew by a smaller rate compared to previous growth rates. However, given that the growth rate in the oil sector was small, achieving this growth rate in GDP required a growth rate of 10% in the non-oil sector, which is not an easy achievement.
This is what must be done in diversifying the structure of the Qatari economy, with the participation of the private sector, and encouraging private initiative that improves the diagnosis of capabilities and market needs, within the framework of price control and development planning for the country.
In addition, the growth rate achieved in 2012 is also a prestigious rate when compared to the growth rates for the same year with a number of economic groups, it is twice the global growth rate, and five times the growth rate in developed countries.
Maintaining good annual growth rates in the coming years is a major challenge given the expected decline in hydrocarbon growth rates. This requires redoubling efforts to increase productivity, improve economic and technical efficiency, promote economic diversification, encourage entrepreneurship, expand research and development, and move towards a knowledge-based economy. This is indeed what we are working to achieve going forward.
The real growth rate in GDP has been accompanied by other indicators that show the strength of the Qatari economy, including:
Government expenditures in the general budget for the fiscal year 2013-2014 are higher than any expenditures in previous budgets and 17% higher than expenditures for the fiscal year 2012-2013.
This increase came at the right time to compensate for the decline in growth in the oil sector, by continuing fiscal stimulus and the need to spend on the priorities of the National Development Strategy 2011-2016, which include health, education and infrastructure development.
The State of Qatar maintained its highest ranks in global competitiveness and its relatively high indicators in the field of human development. Qatar also achieved the highest human development index among the Gulf Arab countries in the 2013 Human Development Report issued by the United Nations Development Program.
This comparison is not for showing off, but to identify areas of strength to preserve and areas of weakness to work on developing and overcoming them. The private sector remains a key partner in development, both in diversifying sources of income and expanding the productive base of the State, and therefore encouraging that sector, removing obstacles and providing it with the necessary incentives rests primarily with the Government.
It is the duty of the business community and the Chamber of Commerce to cooperate with the government by providing all necessary proposals and solutions to enable the private sector to play its role. There is a need to overcome difficulties facing the private sector, such as breaking monopoly, providing an atmosphere of competition, overcoming bureaucratic obstacles, and reducing the size and number of institutions and companies intermediaries between the state sector on the one hand, and entrepreneurs and businessmen on the other.
Qatar has confirmed its advanced position as the best competitive country in the Middle East and remained among the top twenty economies globally this year.
The State of Qatar’s achievement of advanced ranks in many international indicators was only the result of intensive and great efforts from the government and the private sector, and we still aspire to achieve more to improve our position in the rest of the indicators.
Despite the global economic turmoil, Qatar’s financial sector has made its way towards progress and upgrading its services, culminating in the inclusion of the Qatar Financial Market (QFM) in the emerging market group, and Qatar has maintained its high credit rating, which we are also working to raise by enhancing transparency in competitive procedures in the markets, and simplifying legislation and laws.
On the other hand, Qatar continues to enjoy a strong financial position, achieving a surplus of 10.4 percent of GDP, supported by a conservative policy of estimating oil prices for budget purposes.
The government will continue to plan a budget within the framework of medium-term spending, taking into account priorities and allocations allocated to each sector, with a focus on outputs and outcomes.
God has blessed us with natural wealth that would not have achieved these incomes for us without the vision and boldness of His Highness the Father Amir to invest long-term in this wealth. We are supposed to preserve them and prepare alternatives to them.
Despite the high standard of living we can provide, we must approach our wealth and economy responsibly. This is not just about the next generation, but about the kind of human being we are raising in the present: is he a productive human being, or is he just a consumer? Social responsibility, and not slipping into irresponsible waste, are components of the personality of the human being we want; the Almighty said: “And those who spend, do not spend, do not squander, and there is strength between them”, the truth of God Almighty.
In this context, brothers, it is necessary to study the reasons that raise the cost of some projects in the State of Qatar in a way that is not commensurate with the cost, profit, supply and demand, and to research the reason for the high cost of real estate and storage, and mismanagement that leads to frequent change in the specifications of projects at the expense of the state, or in postponing them and procrastinating in their implementation, and then implementing them in haste, and on worse conditions that increase the cost.
Brothers members of the Shura Council,
If we have the right to be pleased with the achievements made in the past years, we should not lose sight of some of the negative phenomena that may accompany them, the most important of which is the problem of inflation.
High growth rates and huge spending on infrastructure and development projects and the accompanying increase in population have been accompanied by an increase in prices, and there is no doubt that inflation has negative effects on growth and society, and therefore high prices are a problem that worries everyone and the government will work to contain it by all available means and tools, especially monetary and fiscal policies, fighting monopoly, encouraging competitiveness, setting an appropriate timetable for investment in major projects, and coordinating between them so that they are not concentrated in a short period of time leading to Pressure on the available absorptive capacities, and a government committee has been formed for the purpose of proposing the necessary solutions to control any inflationary pressures, internal or external.
Individuals, civil society organizations and the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry must play their role and work to avoid any unjustified price increases, as the responsibility is shared, and the role of these bodies is no less important than the role of the state in this regard.
Human development is one of the most important pillars of Qatar’s vision, and the Qatari citizen remains the main focus of our attention by providing the best levels of education that guarantee him progress and progress, and take care of his physical and psychological health, and at the same time preserve his identity, and his Arabic language as a major component of our identity and culture. Year.
Therefore, the government will spare no effort in increasing the allocation for spending on education and development, and spending on education accounted for 13.4% of the total budget for this year, and the equivalent of 3.8% of GDP, and we will work to continue spending on research and development, expanding the educational voucher system, scholarship and training programs, and improving the quality of the educational process, as education is the locomotive of progress.
In the health field, the budget for the fiscal year 2013/2014 included an increase of 13% to achieve better levels of health services, and the primary health care strategy was adopted to become a national priority to upgrade the health system, and to double the number of health centers in the next five years with the expansion and diversity of medical services, especially preventive services. The first phase of the social health insurance system was launched this year, which is supposed to cover all citizens by the beginning of 2016.
But as I said in my speech to my Qatari brothers when they took office, the lesson remains in the results. But at the same time, I say that it is not permissible to deceive ourselves, for this is worse than deceiving others, because whoever deceives himself blocks the way for himself to fix mistakes. The criterion of success in the areas of human development, such as health, education, culture, sports and others, is not only measured by the size of the investment (and we will not fall short in this hopefully), but the lesson lies in working effectively and sincerely, and in the outputs and results.
We have achieved a lot in the past years on the road to development and institution-building, and in terms of the progress of Qatari citizens. A human development policy cannot be implemented if we are not held accountable for negligence, mismanagement or corruption. Whoever works makes mistakes, brothers, and refraining from initiating and working is not a solution, but it is not permissible in any way to underestimate the standards of work, or reward those who underestimate them instead of holding them accountable.
Qataris have long been known for their good morals, generosity, humility, lack of speech, increased work, and support for the oppressed. I fear that we will miss passing on to our young people these values of work, humility, good manners and treating others with respect. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Nothing in the balance is heavier than good manners,” and he also said, “I was sent to fulfill good morals.” Is there a higher goal for upbringing and education than this goal?
Our foreign policy has always been based on the principles of peaceful coexistence, cooperation with all countries and peoples, mutual respect, the promotion of common interests, the consolidation of international peace and security, and the keenness of our presence in the Gulf region and our Arab and Islamic affiliation to participate effectively in the issues and concerns of our Arab and Islamic nations.
We have always worked to strengthen the Gulf Cooperation Council and achieve integration among its countries, to strengthen Arab solidarity and to develop the system of joint Arab action, so that the Arabs have an entity and a voice in this world. Through its presidency of the Arab Summit, the State of Qatar worked to reach a common vision for many of the issues raised in the Arab arena, and we believe that we have always been close to the pulse of Arab public opinion and the aspirations of the Arab peoples for justice and dignity.
The Palestinian question remains the focus of our Arab and foreign policy in general. This Arab and Palestinian wound in the body of the nation is still chronic and inflamed. Every day, Israel, with its aggressive settlement policy, distances itself from the prospect of a just solution to this issue. The main responsibility for the continuation of the Palestinian cause and the suffering of the Palestinians without a solution is the Israeli intransigence, the continuation of the unjust siege on the Gaza Strip and the policy of annexation and settlement in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the occupied Syrian Golan, and the international tolerance of this intransigence, which amounts to complicity.
However, the blame must also be placed on Arab negligence on Arab issues, foremost of which is the Palestinian issue, and the Palestinian division, which is a key factor in weakening the Palestinian position and allowing Israel to escalate its aggressive policy in light of the preoccupation of Arabs and Palestinians with their differences.
You are all aware of the developments in Syria, where the conflict between the rebels and the regime’s army continues, and the atrocities committed by the latter that constitute crimes against humanity, culminating in the use of internationally banned chemical weapons against unarmed civilians. Although the regime has already bombed its cities with aircraft and caused the death of more than a hundred thousand Syrians and Syrians, and despite the displacement of millions, that massacre shook the human conscience in various countries of the world without exception. The UN Security Council resolution, which you all know, to disarm the regime’s chemical weapons did not address the essence of the Syrian problem.
The Syrian people have not revolted and endured what human beings cannot bear in order to disarm the chemical weapons of the regime they rule, but to get rid of a regime that does not hesitate to use them against their own people. The international community has been unable to confront a regime that has committed and continues to commit crimes against humanity and has been unable even to adopt binding resolutions to stop the bloodshed, because of the use of the veto power in the Security Council by some States, thus paralyzing the Council’s ability to take appropriate decisions on the one hand, and because of the rampant double standards in international politics on the other hand. last September stressed the need to accelerate the achievement of a comprehensive reform of the United Nations system and the Security Council. Without such reform, peoples will lose confidence in the international legitimacy and justice they must work to achieve.
We will not abandon the brotherly Syrian people who are defending their dignity and existence on their land, not only to achieve freedom and justice. No one should try to replace justice for this people, who have paid the heaviest price and recorded lines of heroism and pride, with unconditional and time-bound negotiations that lead to nothing.
Negotiations should take place to reach a political solution based on recognition of the just demands of the Syrian people and on the basis of a timetable for their realization.
Dear brothers, members of the Shura Council,
We are confident in the correctness of the approach based on combining principled positions with the higher interests of our people and our nation, and in dealing with the countries of the world on the basis of interests and mutual respect, as well as in the capabilities of our people and their common sense.
I wish you fruitful work in your annual session, and I hope that we will meet next year, God willing, and we have achieved more in the service of Qatar and its dear people, may God help you.
Peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you.