In the early 1960s, the Ministry of Commerce gave approval to my father to set up a store in Shuwaikh. After the inspection, my father refused despite the very low annual rent, after it became clear to him that it required clearing the plot, buying a vehicle and hiring a driver to supply the materials to his shop on a daily basis, and therefore preferred to keep his hold on to his store, despite the fact that its annual rent was ten times more than the government store, and half the size in area.
Consequently, the issue of the Shuwaikh stores is not in the way that some people have attempted to present false reports, as these plots of land did not transform their owners into bank owners.
I have read a tweet about the industrial plots addressed to the Chamber of Commerce, which has nothing to do with the topic, a tweet which spread like wildfire despite its empty words and ridiculous exaggeration that no sane mind can accept.
The tweet says that the state owns 7,000 plots from which it collects 30 million dinars in rents and the owners of these plots rent them to others and make 14 billion dinars. If the state confiscated these plots and rented them, it would get an income equivalent to that of oil and other investments. How ridiculous is this argument!
The person who posted this tweet does not know that the number of state plots is about half of that. There are 3,075 service plots, and 877 industrial plots, and approximately 90% of them are directly exploited by their owners, and not rented to others.
No one has prevented the government from raising the rent on those who exploit these plots, or to those who rent them to others, as it did a few years ago. We must bear in mind that any unreasonable increase in the rent will be borne directly by the consumer, not the merchant or the manufacturer.
The income of dairy and poultry companies – for example – is well-known and not fictional. If the government raises the rent on it five or ten times, as the tweeter demands, these companies will include the difference in the prices of their products. Is this what the smart tweeter wants?
I am not against adjusting rents of industrial plots, but the matter is not that simple. What you see as the exploitation of service plots in a way that you disagree with is part of the economic cycle.
The Avenues and dozens of other successful projects would not have been implemented had it not been for reasonable rent price of the land along with an investor who is able to spend and have creative ideas and this is something that governments are unable to do because this is not its role.
The land will be unworthy unless one develops it and makes it suitable for any industrial or commercial business, and this often requires the huge investments, which many people are not able to do.
I am not defending a weak government that does not know how to manage a lot of things, including industrial plots but I would like to speak here the truth that is not in the minds of many.
By Ahmad alsarraf