A new law that enables a business license to be issued the same day one applies will help attract more foreign investment, says the Minister of Economy and Commerce.
The law passed recently is to be implemented after being published in the official gazette soon and it gives existing businesses six months to comply with its provisions. "The new law has many advantages for those willing to do business here like they can start up a business the same day they apply if their paperwork is in order," H E Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani said.
"This will substantially encourage inflows of foreign investment into the country," the Minister said in a statement. Two old laws (Law No. 3 of 1975 regulating the licensing of businesses and Law No. 9 of 1969 regulating vending activities) have been merged into the new legislation.
As per Law No. 3 of 1975, the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (then known as the Ministry of Municipal and Agricultural Affairs) was the licensing authority. The new law gives this authority to the Ministry of Economy and Commerce.
The law identifies four types of businesses that will be covered. The first type includes commercial and industrial establishments and businesses that carry out both activities together.
The second type includes all cafes, restaurants, hotels and similar outlets, while the third category comprises clinics and offices (consultancies included) and the fourth consisting of workshops and garages.
Interestingly, the fourth and last type of business the law describes as those disturbing people, affecting their health and carrying risks. All the above-cited outlets will remain closed for 90 minutes beginning from the first call for Fridays prayers, says the law.
According to the Minister, rules for home-based businesses and businesses located in residential areas (including neighborhood stores) will soon be issued.
There are provisions for issuing temporary licenses or licenses for less than a year for home-based and other businesses.
All the four types of outlets mentioned above will mandatorily require license from the Ministry of Economy and Commerce to operate with no exception. The validity of the license will be one year renewable for a similar period or more. The difference with the previous law is that licensees were granted to businesses for durations depending on their nature.
Another major highlight is that the new law bans a business from making announcements about its products and services or inserting media advertisements if their license is not valid.
The law redefines vendors after 46 years (the last law was passed in 1969) and identifies business activities they can conduct.
Fines for violations have been raised sharply in the new legislation considering that the old fines had become meaningless over time.
The law will enable Qatar to be ranked among one of the top countries in the world in terms of ease of doing business, in line with Qatar National Vision 2030, the minister said.