By Vinod Nair — MUSCAT: Jan 16 – As the Majlis Ash’shura hosted the Minister of Manpower for the second consecutive day on Monday, members sought answers on a number of issues, including matters related to runaway workers and more incentives for Omanis to work in the private sector. Suggestions were made to have a minimum ceiling on the number of expatriate workforce in the private sector as the country has a large young population ready for employment. On a positive note, it was revealed that the number of Omanis in leadership positions has increased from 14.3 per cent in 2010 to 22.9 per cent by end of November 2016. It was decided the ministry would hold a career fair in February to help job-seekers find jobs of their choice.
In his reply, Shaikh Abdullah bin Nasser al Bakri, Minister of Manpower, said the regulation of the labour market is not the prerogative of the Ministry of Manpower alone, but also of the other authorities. He admitted the issue of hidden trade “worries everyone” and there should be some coordination to tackle this practice. Discussions also included charging remittances of expatriate workers, especially if money remitted out of the country is disproportionate to their salaries. Nearly $11 billion is remitted out of Oman every year, as per estimates, with expatriate workforce in the private sector accounting for 81.8 per cent and Omani employees 19.2 per cent.
A member suggested that the expatriate population should not exceed 33 per cent of the total population, while another member said remittances have been surpassing the aggregate expatriate’s salary. According to a member, 55,000 national job-seekers include 4,000 engineering graduates, while 367,000 expatriate engineers are working in the private sector; 7,000 Omani telecommunication graduates against 67,000 expatriates working in similar jobs. Big firms evaded paying social insurance fees worth RO 17 million.
The members felt newcomers to the job market should be helped with schemes to find homes at affordable loan rates. Both employers and employees should be encouraged to develop relationships based of mutual trust. According to statistics, nearly 12,000 Omanis resigned from private firms to apply for public sector vacancies. The session highlighted the need to develop 200,000 jobs under the current five-year plan and review the minimum salary. It was revealed that 55 per cent of Omanis working in the private sector have their monthly salary below RO 500.