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Encouraging international response to Oman’s fiscal reforms: Qais

Incentives: Economic Stimulus Plan, Social Protection Plan and Medium Term Fiscal Plan unlock a “wealth of benefits” for Oman’s business landscape”: Minister
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MUSCAT: A raft of fiscal programmes rolled out by the Omani government in response to the recent global economic slowdown, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, has been positively received by the international investment community, according to Qais bin Mohammed al Yousef (pictured), Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion.

His observation came during a keynote address at the Annual Omani British Business Council conference held in London recently. Around 250 distinguished guests from the Sultanate of Oman, as well as UK institutions, were in attendance.

Notable among these fiscal initiatives is the Economic Stimulus Plan (ESP), which is designed to support the Omani economy “by offering tax incentives, fee reductions and waivers”, said the Minister.

Launched just over a year ago, the ESP scheme comes with “various reductions in land rents and the opportunity for foreign companies to own land over 5,000m2 for commercial and commercial-residential purposes”, Al Yousef pointed out.

Furthermore, in an effort to ease entry into the private sector, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion reduced fees for 30 business services, some by as much as 95 per cent – a move that was initiated earlier this year.

“To give an example of what this means in real terms - the fee to obtain an industrial license was slashed from £2,172 (RO 1,000 approx) to £108 (RO 50 approx). Moreover, it is possible to rent land on one of our fully developed industrial estates at around £2 pounds 20 (RO 1 approx) per square metre per year,” explained Al Yousef, adding that new businesses setting up operations before the end of 2022 will enjoy corporate tax at zero per cent for the next five years.

These incentives, coupled with the many advantages offered under the Social Protection Plan and the Medium Term Fiscal Plan, unlock a “wealth of benefits to Oman’s business landscape”, the Minister noted.

Significantly, the response from the international community to the introduction of these three fiscal programmes, alongside other reform packages, has been “encouraging”, said Al Yousef.

“From positive reports by the IMF to the upgrading in April by S&P Global of our credit rating to BB- with a stable outlook - the first upgrade since 2015. And in November last year, as Oman participated in its third World Trade Organization trade policy review in Geneva, members complimented our low tariffs and minimal non-tariff barriers to trade. Also praised was our new legislation covering foreign capital investment, privatisation, public-private partnerships and bankruptcy laws,” he further stated.

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