The government yesterday warned licensed dealers in foreign goods and services to keep their prices under check or face the music.
The government made it clear it would not hesitate to scrap the dealership system if the licensees continued to keep their rates high as compared to those in the neighbouring countries.
The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani, said dealers generally came up with the excuse that Qatar being a small country their import consignments were smaller and hence their costs were higher.
“Such excuses are lame. They are unacceptable,” the Premier declared sternly during his annual interaction with businessmen at the Ritz-Carlton last evening. “Sometimes they raise prices saying the euro has appreciated. But they don’t reduce rates when the euro depreciates,” he said.
The government has started taking steps to correct automobile dealers. Similar measures would be initiated against dealers in other goods and services, said the Premier.
“We are providing the dealers all sorts of back-up, including low electricity rates, so that they offer their goods and services to the common consumer at lower prices, but that’s not the case,” he lamented.
The meeting was sponsored by the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI), the representative body of the private sector. The Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy and Industry, H E Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, and several of his cabinet colleagues attended the event.
They replied to various questions from members of the audience. The meeting was earlier opened by Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassem Al Thani, the QCCI chairman.
Talking about prices, the Premier said most commodities were expensive in the country as compared to other GCC states. “The government cannot remain a mere spectator. We will act to discipline erring traders,” he warned. The Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is concerned over the high prices, especially of essentials, which adversely affect the common man, said the Premier.
According to him, plans are afoot to set up two huge entertainment centres in the country on the lines of Disneyland in the US. One such centre will be opened in Ras Abu Aboud and the other in Lusail to woo local visitors as well as foreign tourists.
Work on the first phase of Doha Port will start this year. When completed, its capacity will be five times that of the existing port, he said. He added that a company is being set up to manage the various industrial areas in the country.
The Premier touched upon a number of issues in his speech, including the role of the private sector in national development, the state budget, public spending and GDP growth.