Report beggars, help reform them: MoSD

By Fahad Al Ghadani — MUSCAT: Feb. 19 – In an effort to help beggars, the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) has requested the public to report beggars on the street so they can be “reformed”. “Don’t encourage begging, be a reason to transform them,” is the message the ministry has conveyed through its tweet. The MoSD wants to clear the public misconception that by reporting beggars they might be harming them.
Instead of issuing warnings, the ministry has taken a softer approach. “Beggars can be helped and maybe reformed to lead a respectful life.”
Some of them can be brought under the ambit of social security system as part of the government initiative, said the ministry. It also provides job opportunities for the family members when the breadwinner is capable of working, but does not. When beggars are found not needy, the ministry will offer them advice and guide them in establishing their own business.
Mohammed al Balushi, a citizen based in Muscat, said he usually avoids dealing with beggars. “I can’t respond to them. I am not sure what kind of people I am dealing with, but I agree with the ministry’s move.”
He said he might now consider calling the department concerned in the MoSD to report begging cases since the beggars will benefit now.
The ministry, however, said those found begging for the second time would be subjected to punishment prescribed by the penal code.
Anyone found begging in public or private places shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than two months and not exceeding one year. Begging is punishable with a fine of not less than RO 50 and not more than RO 100.
If a beggar is not Omani, he/she could be expelled from the country. If a beggar repeats the crime, he will be sentenced to imprisonment for not less than six months and not more than two years. Anyone using children or others to beg will be imprisoned for not less than three months and not more than three years. They will be fined not less than RO 50 and not more than RO 100.
A total of 612 beggars (226 nationals and 386 expatriates) were arrested in 2015 and 835 in 2014, according to the ministry.