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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Qatar: Call to make Zakat mandatory for commercial sector

If the payment of Zakat (obligatory alms giving in Islam) is made mandatory by law even on commercial entities in Qatar, the expected annual revenue would be to the tune of QR4bn, which is enough to support all the needy inside the country and many in other countries as well, a senior official has said.

Dr Mohamed Khalifa al-Kubaisi, director of Zakat services at the Zakat Fund, speaking at the Central Municipal Council (CMC) session yesterday, said that the Fund, unlike other charities, focussed on the needy inside Qatar, whether locals or expatriates. It is also a government entity which has limitations on publishing its activities.

“Currently the Fund supports 17,000 needy families. The number is expected to increase as the revenue of the Fund goes up due to the rapid increase in the country’s population. This puts great responsibilities and challenges on the Fund,” he pointed out.

Dr al-Kubaisi explained that the revenues of the Fund from donations and Zakat are spent 100% on charitable works and reach the needy in full without any deduction for the operational cost of the Fund such as salaries of the employees and other administrative issues as these are normally covered by the government.

He stressed that there are no really poor people among the locals, but those in need are usually who accumulated huge debts and could not pay back. He called for awareness efforts to persuade such people not to live beyond their means. As for the expatriates, there are still some needy families that need regular support.

“We calculate it like this: We divide the total income of the family members. We have standards for Qataris and expatriates. If the allowance of a Qatari family member falls beyond QR2,000-2,500 a month then the family is in need of a financial support from the Fund. For expatriates the allowance of a person in the family should come short of QR1,000-1,500 a month to be eligible for support.”

Dr al-Kubaisi said the Fund works in a way to spare the needy people any embarrassment. “They have to visit one time only the headquarters of the Fund to submit a request and register their information. They can call by phone and the staff of the Fund will reach out to them. A study of the case will ensue, when confirmed that the family is really needy, a monthly sum would be credited to their bank accounts on a regular basis for the duration of the aid as if it was a salary transfer.”

Dr al-Kubaisi urged yesterday CMC members to join its volunteers and ambassadors programme to promote the practice of Zakat giving in their constituencies and simultaneously help the Fund reach out to the needy.

“You know better your constituencies and we need your help in this respect. We have also engaged other influential people in this programme such as journalists, writers, artists, government officials and expatriate community heads,” he said.

Eventually, the move was highly welcomed by all CMC members, who saw a real need to focus efforts to address the local needs.

(Gulf Times / 22 Jan 2014)
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