In a move to encourage economic activity in Qatar, the government has exempted 55 businesses from the pre-requirement of getting the Civil Defence’s approval before being issued a commercial licence.
The respite comes in the wake of grievances raised by the business community of inordinate delay in securing a certificate of approval from the Civil Defence Department. The government has tightened rules governing fire safety in the country, particularly after the Villaggio mall blaze in 2012 that killed 19 people including 13 children.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) said the concession was a joint measure with the General Directorate of Civil Defence at the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and the step was expected to ease the measures for establishment of businesses and serve as an incentive.
However, the actual business can commence only after the establishment is issued an occupancy certificate by the Civil Defence, it added.
“This joint programme, the first of its kind, has waived the condition of getting the pre-approval of the Civil Defence to be eligible for a commercial licence,” the statement said.
A local entrepreneur said the concession would help businessmen move ahead without having to wait for the Civil Defence’s clearance as the commercial licence is a pre-requisite for other procedures to set up shop in the country. The exemption comes into force today.
The new stipulation is applicable to shops or offices which occupy an area that does not exceed 250sqm.
The owner of the business should get necessary approvals and clearance certificates of the Civil Defence within 30 days of being issued the commercial licence and before starting the business activities.
The following are the businesses that have been exempted: photo studios, flowers and sweets shops, communication services, painters and calligraphers’ shops, women’s beauty centres, mills, commercial showrooms, car showrooms, trade offices, audit offices, travel agencies, exchange houses, lawyers’ offices, training centres, open car parking lots, kiosks, juice and drinks shops, cafeterias, Qur’an memorisation centres, massage centres, barber shops, tailor shops, car accessory shops, furniture shops, upholsteries, shops that sell cloths, ice cream outlets, tyre workshops, auto electric workshops, Internet cafes, bicycle repair shops, AC workshops, shops that sell tiles and marble, decoration outlets, laundries, jewellery shops, groceries, supermarkets, cigarette and tobacco outlets, carpentries that manufacture closets, doors and windows, clothes shops, building materials and electric and sanitary supply shops, satellite receiver shops, paints outlets, pets outlets, glass shops, music and video outlets, computer supplies, automated self-service machines such as ATMs, drinks and fast food vending machines, automated slaughterhouses, meat shops and cattle sale yards.
A new law issued in August 2012 significantly increased the role of Civil Defence in improving the safety of all of Qatar’s buildings. The new law has made it mandatory for all buildings to have fire alarm systems.
Also, all designs for buildings need to be approved by the Civil Defence and no alterations are allowed once approval has been given.
People found guilty of making internal alterations to a building without Civil Defence Department’s approval which go on to cause a death will face eight years in jail or a QR500,000 fine, or both.
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