(MENAFN - The Peninsula) About 40 percent of diesel supplied by Qatar Fuel (Woqod) to the local market is smuggled out of the country because of low prices, the government said on Tuesday.
The smuggling causes shortages of diesel locally so the Ministry of Economy and Finance has allocated QR2bn to help meet the shortfall.
This was disclosed by the Deputy Prime Minister and Head of Emiri Diwan, H E Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, at the Prime Minister's interface with the privates sector at the Doha Sheraton.
According to Al Attiyah, the Ministry of Interior is playing an effective role in checking the smuggling of diesel as it has been successful in making arrests of several persons accused of involvement in the illicit trade.
Al Attiyah was responding when the PM was asked by the private sector represented by the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI) as to why local companies were given diesel at higher rates while it is sold cheaper to foreign companies.
The QCCI said there was the need to unify the prices of diesel. Al Attiyah said in response that he agreed with this suggestion because in his view this would check smuggling bids.
Talking of expatriates, the Prime Minister said that their population was quite high and one foreign worker falling sick costs the state QR1,000 daily.
This is one of the reasons why Qatar needs to speed up its job nationalisation drive, said the PM.
Talking about court cases, he said that he received reports from the courts periodically and it was a matter of concern that litigations related to cheques that are dishonoured because of lack of sufficient funds in the bank accounts of issuers were on the rise.
The chairman of the state-backed Hassad Food Company, Nasser Al Hajri, was present at the meet, and he told the audience in response to a query that the company had signed a deal with Qatar Airways to allocate a special area at the Doha International Airport to stock perishable imported food items.
Since these food items rot easily and become unfit for consumption soon, the airline would supply these items to Hassad before they become stale so that the company can market them without undue delays.
A senior QCCI official demanded that the government build an 'agricultural city' and encourage food processing industries to mushroom in the proposed city.