STREAMLINING: Move mirrors similar endorsement process currently in place in select sectors –
Conrad Prabhu –
Muscat, April 17 –
Oman’s Ministry of Manpower has requested the Ministry of Oil & Gas (MOG) to vet and endorse all applications for expatriate labour clearances sought by private companies operating in the Sultanate’s oil and gas industry.
The move mirrors a similar endorsement process currently in place in select sectors, notably banking and financial services where the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) has been tasked with vetting all labour clearance requests before they are forwarded to the Manpower Ministry for its consideration and approval. The practice is also in place in the healthcare sector, where all applications for labour clearances must first be endorsed by the Ministry of Health.
“The Manpower Ministry has approached us to perform the same role on behalf of the oil and gas sector,” said Salim bin Nasser al Aufi (pictured), Under-Secretary – Ministry of Oil & Gas.
The rationale behind the move, the official explained, is that the Ministry is naturally better-placed than the Manpower Ministry to weigh the merit and genuineness of applications from companies operating within its jurisdiction.
When eventually rolled out, the measure will not only limit, on the one hand, the potential for exploiting inherent loopholes in the system in order to secure clearances for expatriate labour, but on the other, it will also help validate and accelerate the processing of requests where the applications are genuine.
But given the size of the sector, the Ministry of Oil & Gas is currently discussing a burden-sharing arrangement with the Oman Society for Petroleum Services (OPAL), the principal representative body of companies operating in the hydrocarbon sector. OPAL’s members include all of the oil and gas producing companies (operators), upstream Exploration & Production (E&P) firms, contractors, service providers, consultants, small and medium businesses (SMEs) and so on.
“As the Ministry of Oil & Gas cannot undertake this responsibility all by ourselves, we would request OPAL to share in this task,” said Al Aufi.
“While the Ministry will like take upon itself the task of verifying and endorsing labour clearance requests from the operators, perhaps OPAL can handle requests from the contractors,” he added.