Browsing 'Advisory Council' News

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Qatar’s Advisory Council has approved a draft law that would increase scrutiny of public money in a new effort to combat corruption.

According to the Peninsula, the draft law would give more financial authority and independence to the State Audit Bureau.

The body already reports directly to the Emir.

It has the right to audit and inspect the finances of ministries, banks and organizations substantially funded by the government, as well as state joint ventures with foreign agencies.

Limited scope

However, according to Law. No. 4 of 1995, it can only recommend punitive action based on its findings.

It is also prohibited from sharing its reports with the public or media, even if it uncovers embezzling of public funds or waste of government money.

However, a proposed amendment would authorize the bureau to publish its reports after removing confidential parts, the Peninsula said.

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This would help improve transparency and perhaps serve as a deterrent for erring bodies.

In December, an advisor of the bureau said changes to the law were needed for government entities to take the operation more seriously, as some do not respond to requests for information.

At the time, Mubarak Ali Almuhannadi added that falling oil prices were a good incentive for Qatar and its neighbors to improve its budgeting and auditing practices.

Influential council

The draft law was among the last pieces of legislation to be discussed by the Advisory Council before it adjourned for the summer yesterday.

In Qatar, no laws can be enacted without first being discussed by the influential body, one of the country’s two legislative wings.

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Penny Yi Wang

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Other topics of discussion this session included:

  • A draft data privacy law that would fine organizations who fail to prevent leaks up to QR5 million.
  • A draft law cracking down on tobacco usage; and
  • A debate on speeding up the Civil Defense inspection process.

Currently, the Emir appoints the members of the Advisory Council.

But according to the constitution, 30 of the council’s members should be elected and 15 appointed.

However, the Emir recently renewed the council’s mandate for another three years, effectively postponing legislative elections until at least 2019.

The council will begin its 45th session toward the end of this year, after adjourning for the summer yesterday.

Thoughts?

Emiri Diwan

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Emiri Diwan

Qatar’s Emir has extended the influential Advisory Council’s term for another three years, effectively postponing legislative elections until at least 2019.

Decree No. 30 of 2016 dismisses the 44th regular session of the council on July 18.

And Emiri decision No. 25 of 2016 will extend the council’s new term to June 30, 2019, QNA reports.

This is the first time Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is making such a decision as Emir. The move comes shortly before a decree made in the last few hours of his father’s rule expires.

Legislative elections

In 2011, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani pledged to hold legislative elections within two years.

However, in the summer of 2013, he yielded his leadership to Sheikh Tamim, and decided to extend the Advisory Council’s term in the midst of the power transition.

In Qatar, no laws can be enacted without first being discussed by the Advisory Council, one of the country’s two legislative wings.

As it stands, the Emir appoints the members of the council. But according to the constitution, 30 of the council’s members should be elected and 15 appointed.

However, public participation has been postponed for decades, according to legal experts. This has been based on the constitutional provision that “extending the council’s term is permitted if it is found to be in the public’s best interest.”

It is unclear what will happen in 2019. If the council term’s is extended again, then it’s possible elections would be held before the session expires in 2022.

Thoughts?

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Sebastian Sikora/Flickr

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With reporting from Riham Sheble

Authorities in Qatar are considering adopting a new data privacy law that would fine organizations who fail to prevent leaks up to QR5 million.

The latest version of the law has moved one step closer to being enacted after the Advisory (Shura) Council unanimously approved the draft yesterday, QNA reports.

The legislation has been in the works since at least 2011, and the draft was passed by the Cabinet in January this year.

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Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

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Yesterday, the Advisory Council approved the draft with some suggested changes and sent its recommendations back to the Cabinet.

The legislation would make it illegal for companies to use an individual’s data without their consent and includes provisions to prevent unsolicited spam marketing by SMS or email.

Leak protection

The draft includes 32 articles in eight chapters, and also outlines obligations for organizations and companies to ensure they properly protect personal information from being leaked or hacked.

Chapter two of the legislation includes five articles that require consent from individuals before their personal information can be used by an organization.

People should also be able to update these preferences at any time, Al Raya reported.

The law also aims to protect children against online exploitation domestically and abroad, but does not give further details of how.

The third chapter, with eight separate articles, sets out basic data protection responsibilities that all organizations must adhere to.

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Video still via ictQatar

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According to these provisions, data handlers must be properly trained and put in place “the necessary precautions to prevent personal data against loss, damage or disclosure,” the newspaper states.

In April this year, personal information including account numbers, passwords and email address for thousands of Qatar National Bank (QNB) was leaked on a file-sharing website.

The hack raised questions about the level of protection of personal data currently in place in organizations in Qatar.

As a result, the new law seeks to have “established standards of data protection as determined by the state” and in line with basic protections as enshrined in the national constitution, Al Raya said, quoting the Ministry for Transport and Communication.

Companies must make sure their networks and systems have sufficient protection and that information is classified as public, “private” or “confidential.”

No spam

In a bid to curb the amount of spam messages residents receive on email or by text message, there are also new provisions detailing the rules for direct marketing.

As announced in January, companies would be banned from sending messages without first getting an individual’s prior permission.

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Petar Milošević/Wikicommons

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Customers have previously complained about getting unsolicited texts from organizations that they have not had any dealings.

While telecommunications companies have advised residents how to block such SMS messages, it is more difficult to stop them being sent through social media apps such as Whatsapp.

Failure to comply with the provisions of the draft law could result in penalties of up to QR5 million, although the fine imposed for violators will be determined by the courts based on the severity of the infraction.

Some exceptions to the consent requirement include protection of national and public security, international relations or to prevent crimes.

Thoughts?