Ali Al Matani –
The Ministry of Manpower has announced that it was suspending hiring of expatriate workers in certain profession in the private sector. This was done to provide job opportunities to the citizens. The much-awaited decision was largely appreciated. At the same time, some companies started evading the law.
They started hiring expatriates in the name of professions not banned and employing them in jobs that are actually banned. This has made the decision of the ministry ineffective.
That is why we find that 80 per cent of expatriate workers are working in professions for which they were not actually registered. The database provided on this is not accurate, particularly in the constructions and tendering sectors.
When the ministry bans hiring from abroad for a particular profession, companies identify jobs that are not banned, and employ them under those titles.
These situations need to be dealt with firmly. That is because it is not easy for us to keep an eye on 1.8 million workers in more than 250,000 companies.
Whenever you visit a Sanad office, you will hear people saying “register the worker in a non-prohibited profession”, which is supposed to be a formula employed to evade the law.
It is believed that Omanis do not want to work in certain unrestricted professions such as cleaners and construction workers, etc. But here, this point has to be noted as we do not know exactly if the citizens really do not want to work in these professions.
We can get the exact answer to the question by looking into the matter in detail. At the same time, we need to criminalize such practices.
Today the situation is peculiar. A labour card that a worker carries and the profession he practises has no connection. This means the card is meaningless. It has no role in revealing real identity of the holder.
That is why the information on workers and their salaries are not accurate for effectively evaluating the job market.
The data on such aspects of human life should be exact so indicators of social development are accurate. This is required for effective planning and strategy for development of the country.
There are many honest and law-abiding entities too. At the same time, many companies try to find an opportunity to evade the law.
For example, some private hospitals hire nurses in the name of ‘general workers’ and other unrestricted professions. Same is the case with positions of senior doctors.
As long as these loopholes remain, all plans and strategies related to Omanisation and the replacement of expatriates with Omanis will become ineffective.
We hope the authorities will find effective solutions to these problems in the job market. They should become more serious about controlling the employment avenues and guard against any evasion of laws in the larger interest of the country and its people. This will also require legal measures as well.