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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Residents offer unsolicited cost-cutting advice to Qatar’s government

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly translated a Twitter post.

As Qatar tightens its belt amid falling government revenues, many residents have been brainstorming ways to put the country’s finances back in order – with some offering more helpful suggestions than others.

On Twitter and Qatar Shares this week, people have proposed rolling back public sector salaries, reducing the country’s reliance on expat labor and trimming spending on sports clubs.

One person even suggested cancelling the 2022 World Cup.

The advice comes as Qatar plans to run its first deficit in 15 years, and operate a budget that calls for spending reductions – though there are few details on where those cuts will occur.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

So far, many state-funded organizations, including Al Jazeera, Qatar Foundation and Qatar Museums, have been forced to cut expenditures by reducing programming and laying off expats.

Additionally, the head of Katara Cultural Village has said the organization will see its budget cut this year.

Dropping perks

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Al Sharq reported that government bureaucrats would soon feel the pinch.

Citing unnamed sources, it said perks such as mobile phone and transportation allowances would be trimmed while overtime payments would be reduced by giving employees extra time off in lieu of monetary compensation.

Visitors to the popular online forum Qatar Shares responded to the article by suggesting the government go even further:

ان من رأيى يرجعون الزيادة الاخيرة الى خزائن الدولة الى هى 60% ويبقى المعاش مثل ما كان قبل الزيادة
الاخيرة سواء فى الراتب الاساسى او الزوجية لغايت ما يرتفع سعر البترول

Translation: I think that the money made after the latest 60% increase in salaries should be given back and put in the state’s treasury. Salaries should go back to what they were like before that increase until the oil prices go up again.

Others took aim at the government’s spending on sports:

اتمنى يوقفون الدوري القطري الميزانيه بترجع والانديه الي مالها داعي قاعدين يشترونها بعد

Translation: The Qatari football league should be suspended because of the large budget allotted to it. Also, there’s no need for all the new football clubs they keep purchasing.

Al Sadd match
Al Sadd match

وياليت لو يلغون كأس العالم 2022 ويوفرون فلوسه ويستثمرونها بشي يرفع اقتصاد البلد
وأحنا مع بلادنا بالعسر واليسر أن شاء الله

Translation: I hope (the) 2022 (World Cup) gets cancelled and the budget for it is spent on something that will actually better the country’s economy. We stand by our country and government in bad times as well as good ones.

Government officials have repeatedly said that major development projects, especially those connected to the World Cup, would proceed.

Fewer expats

Over the past year, Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, has been urging citizens to adopt a spirit of frugality and caution, warning them that the government can no longer “provide for everything.

Using the Twitter hashtags #التقشف_الحقيقي (real austerity) and #كفايه_هياط_واسراف (enough with the fuss and extravagance), some residents have been echoing that message in both serious and light-hearted posts:

http://twitter.com/r_ee_my/status/689339872549695488

Translation: May God protect us from squanderers. The government should take hold of the money of a person who squanders it away and should be in charge of it on their behalf. That person should also be flogged in public. They won’t dare go back to this habit.

Translation: Congratulations and blessed life with the first wife, no second wife and no subsidies and help from the government. Face the music!

Others suggested taking a closer look at the country’s reliance on foreign workers and questioned past efforts to diversify Qatar’s economy away from oil and gas:

Translation: Do away with western foreign consultants, rid ourselves of this inferiority complex (that makes us trust foreigners/westerners more), prepare Qataris throughout the different stages of education and follow that up with professional development.

Translation: Now is the time to ask, where is the tourism revenue during this crisis? Isn’t tourism what prompted the legalization of alcohol consumption on Qatari soil and in the sky (aboard Qatar Airways)?

Do you have any suggestions on ways to rein in government spending? Thoughts?

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