Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani
The PM touched upon the government’s rolein managing the state’s resources and achieving the highest productivity from those resources, as well as providing services to citizens and residents with the highest efficiency, as well as providing services to tourists in a way that achieves returns and income for the state.
He said there are challenges, which the state is working on to overcome them by all means and capabilities.
Regarding employment, the PM said Qatar is a small country and the government sector has a limited capacity to absorb, pointing out that the state succeeded in employing about 7,127 citizens during the past year -- 5,200 were in the government sector and nearly 1,900 in the private sector.
He pointed out that the state has provided a platform to facilitate and provide job opportunities to citizens and will provide the best levels of education and training in order for the national cadre to be competitive and qualified in the labour market.
Regarding the most prominent challenges facing the education and health sectors, the PM said the education and health sectors constitute 20 percent of the general budget, which represents a high percentage of government spending on these sectors, indicating that the education and health sectors are important for Qatar.
“With regard to the health sector, we are keen to provide the best healthcare services to citizens and everyone who lives on the land. We see that there are some administrative challenges in the health sector, such as problems with medical appointments, but that does not mean that the health service is not at the required level. On the contrary during the COVID-19 pandemic, the health sector has proven its strength and has achieved what countries with well-established medical institutions have not achieved,” the PM added.
The PM said, “There is no doubt that the cadres in the health sector are making a great effort, and we know that there are challenges that we do not deny and we are following them diligently, and we are working with the Ministry of Public Health to develop a plan to overcome these administrative obstacles and improve the level of service.”
“We expect at the end of this April that there will be some programmes that facilitate access to medical appointments as soon as possible,” he added.
The PM stressed that the education sector is the main sector for graduating national cadres to be qualified for working in the country.
“We, in Qatar, consider teaching profession to be one of the noblest professions, and the Ministry of Education is currently working through a number of initiatives to attract Qataris to work in the teaching profession,” he said, pointing out the government seeks to provide the best level of education, but this will not be achieved by the government only.
“There is a social responsibility from home and school, and we, as a government, will shoulder our responsibility so that our students are globally competitive,” he added.
The PM said, “We are not satisfied with the level of educational outputs, we aspire for more, and we count on our youth to provide the best.”
Speaking about economic diversification, the PM said, “Qatar is not immune from the world that has gone through global economic crises, and if we compare the Qatari economy with its global counterpart, we will find that our performance is always better. “
He said the International Monetary Fund issued a report on inflation rates, in which it confirmed the global rate at 8%, while in Qatar it is 5%.
He said the state’s gross domestic product by the end of 2022 reached QR864 billion, meaning that the size of the economy has grown at a rate of 38 times in 30 years, indicating that the state does not depend only on oil. He said the state adopts economic diversification.
“In economic diversification we have made great strides. The contribution of the oil and gas sector in the GDP decreased compared to the contributions of other sectors, but until now the contributions of the oil sector is more thanhalf of the GDP and the contributions of other sectors increase significantly.”
He said sources of income for the state are either from natural resources. “We are now also heading to attract foreign investments and encourage foreign investments.”
The PM praised the role of the Qatar Investment Authority as one of the sources of income diversification.
“We consider QIA an insurance policy for future generations, as we invest the surpluses it owns for the future,” he added.
With regard to foreign policy, the PM reviewed Qatar’s firm stance towards many regional and international issues, and its pioneering and capable international efforts in consolidating international peace and security, stressing that diplomacy and soft power are part of the state’s strategy to protect its security.
He touched upon the efforts made by Qatar in Jerusalem before the Holy Month of Ramadan, so that there would be no escalation in this holy month, given that in the last three years there was a major escalation by virtue of some unacceptable practices by the Israelis.
He pointed out that the events that took place this year are behind several factors that make it for “us a serious warning of a transitional phase with regard to Al-Aqsa Mosque and an attempt to impose a new reality to change its historical status”.
“If the Arab and Islamic countries and the world have remained silent about such actions, then the issue of Al-Aqsa Mosque will lose its value,” he added.
The PM said Qatar stands with the Palestinian brothers and supports their steadfastness, noting that this issue is at the top of their priorities in foreign policy, especially since what they are doing is the defence of Al-Aqsa Mosque, “which belongs to all of us, and not only to the Palestinians, but It belongs to all Muslims.”
Regarding income and value-added tax, the PM said, “There is nothing that can be discussed with regard to income tax that may be talked about here and there, but so far there is no government decision on income tax.”
As for value-added tax, he said, “it is a spending tax, not an income tax, and this is among the obligations of the system of the Gulf countries. Until now, the issue of when it will be applied has not been studied, but it is something that exists and will be applied to a specific segment of goods, and it does not deduct anything from the citizen’s income.”
In response to a question about health insurance and the delay in some health sector appointments, the PM praised the efforts of the Ministry of Public Health and the services it provides, pointing out that the health insurance programme must have some errors. The health sector accounts for 11 percent of the state budget in the current fiscal year, amounting to QR21 billion.
He stressed that the health insurance law seeks to enable the foreigners to benefit from the health services provided by private hospitals as soon as possible through a compulsory health insurance programme.
He said that to achieve this and fully implement the system requires time and a health infrastructure that can accommodate that system, as the state strives to provide the best service to its citizens, praising the health system in Qatar, which has proven its efficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the end of April, there will be some programmes that will facilitate the process of obtaining appointments as quickly as possible, he added.