In an interview discussing various aspects of the Associations and Private Institutions Law, Mr. Mohammed Al-Ansari, Managing Partner at Al-Ansari & Associates and Secretary General of Qatar Lawyers Association, said “the law is weak, hinders the progress of the professional associations and requires drastic amendment to enable the professional associations to resurrect the association.”
Mr. Al-Ansari added, “as a professional association we have noticed an increasing tendency to control the activities of the association by the Ministry of Human Development, Labour & Social Affairs through requiring prior approvals for the public awareness activities held by the association.” Such approval, he explained, have at numerous times been withheld until after the date set for such activity. In addition, he expressed that the decisions issued by the Minister of Human Development, Labour & Social Affairs are protected from any challenge before the courts, which should not be the case. Furthermore, the professional associations pay an annual fee of QAR10,000 and an additional fee every three years of QAR50,000 to the Ministry, yet in turn do not receive any particular services.
In his interview, Mr. Al-Ansari indicated that the amendment to the law should cancel the fees due to the Ministry because such fee is paid without any benefit in return. He added, “the amendment needs to enable the professional associations the ability to self-fund, grant them to ability to manage the affairs of their professions, waive the immunity granted to the Minister’s decisions and provide support in relation to the associations’ headquarters.”
He explained further on the source of funding, staring that the Qatar Lawyers Association pays fees to the Ministry without any return or benefit to the association or its members, which is funded from the only permissible source of revenue of the association, i.e. the membership fees. The current law does not allow the association to have sources of revenues other than the members’ fees, which makes it difficult to operate. In addition, Mr. Al-Ansari referenced such anomaly stating “why would the members pay their fees when the association is not able to provide them with benefits and privileges in return?”
Mr. Al-Ansari clarified that the existing associations, in several discussions with the Ministry, requested its autonomy in conducting its activities without undue controls and restrictions. As an example of such undue controls and regulations, the Ministry commenced a new procedure requiring the associations to submit an application before any workshop is held detailing the subject, speakers, time and place, together with a report after the workshop indicating the attendance and what happened during the workshop. Furthermore, he added, “in several instances we had to wait for the approval of the Ministry which is only given to us after the date of the workshop itself. Such procedure is a clear interference in the association activities.”
Mr. Al-Ansari further raised an issue of importance in relation to the designated headquarters of the associations. He indicated that the associations are not treated equally in this matter where the government would provide headquarters to certain associations such as those focused on animal welfare and photography but not others. He further added, “every time we submit a request to the Ministry to support the association, we are informed that that Council of Ministers will review the application, yet we get no response. Then, how would one require the associations to operate as an effective NGO in the society and service its members?”
“The effectiveness of any professional association can be measured through its awareness program targeting the public, but the associations are informed that they are only required to have such awareness programs targeting their members, who are professionals themselves,” he said.
He concluded, “we believe that a professional association role is to service its members as well as create awareness within the society, all of which cannot be achieved with the current law. Therefore, we hope that the government would review the law and take into consideration the comments and suggestions of the professional associations.”
Source: Published at Raya Newspaper