Sanad centres feel the e-governance pitch

By Vinod Nair — MUSCAT: Jan 4: Implementation of e-governance strategies in public and private sectors may be inevitable in modern times, but it is having a major impact on Sanad centres. Oman budget for 2017 has called for use of technologies in government operations transactions and operations to improve efficiency. With more government transactions going online and paperless, especially at the Ministry of Manpower, Sanad operators in some parts of Oman have started raising their concerns in public.
Sanad programme was set up in 2001 by the government to promote small-scale enterprises, under which young men and women in the age group 18 to 40 years were encouraged to start their own business and given a maximum loan of RO 5,000.
Speaking to Observer, Salim al Hadi of a Sanad centre in Ruwi said that till two months ago, his centres in Ruwi used to bustle with clients from morning till late in the evening. “Now things have become very difficult and we have cut our employees by near 50 per cent. Salaries for our employees start from RO 350 and there are some getting bigger amounts.”
He added, “With businesses down by nearly 90 per cent and add to it the rental costs, I plan to scale down the number of centres from three to one in the near future.”
Khalifa, who too runs a Sanad centre, said it is difficult to sustain even in the short term. “I think many of the services will be forced to close down in the next two months.”
Hadi echoed the same saying we will soon see many centres closing down. “We get a few requests from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI). Most of the big private and public sector firms do their transactions online. Only small companies that still depend on traditional methods approach us.”
Ali Ahmed, who runs a translation business, says, “Translation business is not that bad compared with typing centres that prepare labour or some other agreements for Omanis and expatriates. “The future is uncertain because most organisations are moving online.”
He also cited the Invest-Easy system of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry where all major documentations can be done online.
Hadi is not sure of the solutions but added that the government should ensure some of its work is directed to Sanad centres.
A few services offered by the ROP such as filling of forms are still done through Sanad centres, but the volume of business has come down drastically.
As part of activating e-services in Oman, Tam Service was launched by ITA. It allows all Omani citizens and residents to use government’s online services and transactions at a higher level of security, authenticity, integrity and confidentiality to protect all e-Transactions made through ID cards and mobile SIM cards.
Tam service offers secured and protected personal data, authenticated digital identity without the need for physical appearance as well as the ability to sign any document or application electronically.
“Online services may be useful and it saves time, but still there is a big section that needs help from some agencies. Hope, we have Sanad centres going in the coming days,” Khalid al Balushi, a PRO in the private sector.