Loans worth RO 70m for SMEs, industry

By Kabeer Yousuf — MUSCAT: Feb. 18 – Loans to the tune of RO 70 million will be disbursed to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), industry, fisheries, tourism and agriculture sectors this year by Oman Development Bank (ODB). The amount will cover asset finance, term loans for various projects, working capital, SMEs and agriculture, which can create more job opportunities for locals, ODB General Manager Hamed al Harthy (pictured) said. “More than 50 per cent of the total loans will be provided to industrial development, while agriculture, fisheries and tourism will get due prominence,” he said.
Speaking to Observer on the sidelines of a seminar organised by ODB, Islamic Development Bank ADFIMI (Association of National Development Finance Institutions in Member Countries of the Islamic Development Bank) aimed at learning from the experience of Turkey, Malaysia and Iran, besides the GCC, Al Harthy said the loans will also cover tourism projects.
“We cover projects in the tourism sector in line with the national strategic development plan. These include basic infrastructure in interior Oman, including hotels, apartments and restaurants.”
This year, the bank will pay more attention to microfinancing and SMEs as a means of extending support to the unemployed youth.
“We plan to reshape microfinance arena and we are building a separate wing for microfinance. Ninety-five per cent of our spending is on microfinance and all our branches in the interior are there to help local projects supporting employment. Any youth who has a real-time project in these sectors can approach our branches.”
He said less importance being given to collateral security has gained the confidence of Omani youth, but the bank’s spending is purely based on feasibility study and follow-up.
From 2009 to 2016, the bank has issued 33,643 loans worth RO 272 million for various projects while creating 79,991 jobs for nationals.
The number of microfinance loans during the period reached 32,849, valued at RO 160 million. “This reflects the bank’s role in supporting micro-projects,” he said.
The bank has financed 19 big projects worth RO 18 million, 92 medium projects worth RO 44 million and 404 small projects worth RO 50 million.