Large corporate houses in Qatar should re-engineer the payment terms and offer concessions to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to complement the sovereign efforts in revitalising the economy and mitigating the impact of Covid-19, according to a top official of Mannai Corporation.
"Supporting SMEs is a collective effort that businesses should take in supporting the economy and community," Mannai Corporation's deputy chairman of the executive committee Khalid al-Mannai, told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview.
Setting aside budgets to spend with smaller firms or even highlighting their works could help companies, that may be struggling due to lower demand; he said, adding "reengineer their payment terms and if possible provide them with advance payment in order for them to sustain their business.”
Highlighting that companies can offer grants to SMEs, he said "if you operate a relatively large organisation with enough budget set aside, there is no time like the present to dedicate funds to support SMEs as part of your corporate social responsibility efforts."
If setting budgets aside to support SMEs is not possible, al-Mannai said, the second best option would be to enhance awareness about their work.
"We are a retail trading company and have a consumer product division that deals with installations and servicing the consumer products. We recruit sub-contractors to carry out the installations of our products. We can introduce these sub-contractors to other private sector companies in the market, which will give them a boost," he said.
On the government's QR75bn stimulus package, he said the timely announcement is expected to provide much relief to the private sector, thus supporting the private sector. Also, the QR10bn fund to the Qatar Stock Exchange will greatly support the economy, he added.
The Government’s financial package would not only help in relieving much of the immediate stress that companies are facing in terms of paying employees and job security in general, but also help in making sure that the customer’s demands are met.
"Only a cycle like this will be able to play a key role in ensuring the continuity of business and avoiding a major setback to the economy," he said.
Asserting that business continuity (in the corporate sector) will have to be a “360 degree effort” with everyone coming together to boost the economy; he said at this moment, all areas need strengthening while developing strategies to stabilise the economy.
"It will be an ongoing process and there won’t be a quick-fix, but the key is to gradually return to business activities with the support from the State by taking all the necessary precautions to stop further spread of infection,” he said.
Acknowledging that public private partnerships will grow more in Qatar; he said with the help and support from the state, there potentially would be more in this regard.
"This could be true for most sectors of the economy and will also expose the private sector to new experiences and business environments," he said.
The government has been keen to enhance the role of the private sector in the overall national economy, he said.
“It’s a two way thing – we need support from the State and the State needs support from us as well. So the idea is to build and sustain that understanding to help boost the economy," he added.
As was in the case of blockade, Qatar’s private sector got together quickly to draw up a strategy to face this extremely difficult challenge and started putting together a long-term plan to mitigate the risks, he said.
In this regard, al-Mannai highlighted that firms in Qatar have started communication campaigns through apps, social media and text messaging to urge their customers to use mobile services and avoid being exposed to infection.
Such services include e-Government services via the Metrash app, mobile banking operations through banking app and web portals, telecom services for credit top-ups and contract management, or catering and grocery services via order management and delivery platform, he said.
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