In a frank address to inaugurate the 41st session of the Advisory Council yesterday, the Emir discussed mistakes made during the Villaggio fire, the need to cut the fat in a bloated government and the state’s efforts to balance the interests of both Qataris and expats during the country’s most rapid period of economic growth.
“The lessons must be learned from the mistakes, such as what happened earlier this year in the Villagio Mall, since human errors and accidents cannot be prevented, but necessary precautions and preventive measures could be taken to avoid them or at least mitigate the damage caused by unavoidable occurrences,” the Emir said.
Acknowledging the strain the increasing population has put on “hospitals, schools, roads and infrastructure,” the Emir pledged a 114 percent increase in health spending and a 35 percent jump in education investment over the next three years, in hopes of achieving “a quantum leap” in those sectors.
“It is not possible to build Qatar society, economy and institutions without this population growth, which include expertise, jobs, workers, services etc. This is normal. While it was difficult to develop services in the same pace of the exceptional population increase, we have done a lot. However, the quality of services must be raised and its range extended.”
He also urged a reduction in government bureaucracy and spoke against monopolies in the private sector:
“Inconsistencies and duplication mean waste of money and overstaffing. It also means complicating procedures for the investor and the citizen… These obstacles must be overcome and even if they necessitate the public sector to be restructured. The private sector activity and its role in the economy must also be supported and activated, and monopoly that hampers its work must be prevented because it is antithetical to the competitive economy.”
Finally, addressing Qatar’s role in the Arab Spring, the Emir asserted that the country’s only motivation was to fight injustice.
The State of Qatar has no political, economic or social agendas in any other country, whether Arab or non-Arab. We do not have any pre-conceived notion at all about what should be the system of government in any other country, but what triggered the ire of some of the voices of the past are two essential things.
The first is that we have stood beside the oppressed peoples when they were subjected to brutal repression to a degree that is intolerable, and silence should not be kept about, and secondly, that in the State of Qatar there is a vision and independent Arab media that could only cover events objectively.
Read the Emir’s full remarks, which include specific comments about current events in Egypt, Syria, Palestine and other countries, below:
Credit: Photo courtesy of QNA