Muscat: HH Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham al Said, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, presided over the launch of “Together Moving Forward” forum, which was organized by the Secretariat General of the Council of Ministers at Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre on Sunday.
HH Sayyid Theyazin affirmed that the topics raised at the forum assume special significance. He expressed his delight at the forum’s convening and said that he was interested to listen to the queries and discussions of the participants and viewers.
Al Fadhl bin Mohammed al Harthy, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, said that the forum was organized under the directives of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik and that this reaffirms His Majesty’s keenness on the principle of active public participation and the consolidation of communication between the government and society.
The forum reviewed the government's policies highlighting three themes: “Oman Vision 2040 ”, “measures taken in view of global economic developments” and “mechanisms of handling the employment file”.
He pointed out that, when organizing this forum, the Secretariat General of the Council of Ministers was keen to ensure the largest volume representation of various segments of society. This, he added, was envisaged through the establishment of an electronic platform for the registration of participants. The forum saw a large turnout of registrants, he explained.
Dr Khamis Saif al Jabri, Head of Oman Vision 2040 Implementation Follow-up Unit, presented a visual display featuring components of Oman Vision’s charter, which comprises 4 main pillars, 12 national priorities, 12 strategic approaches, 75 strategic goals and 68 national and international performance indicators.
He pointed out that challenges facing Oman Vision 2040 include the need to review and amend the development of indicators, notably in the backdrop of developments that occurred after the launch of the Vision charter. This is in addition to economic, financial and health conditions that prevailed and their related social impacts. He added that there was a need to build an integrated planning system for the Vision’s strategic and operational dimensions.
Al Jabri affirmed that, by the end of 2022, Oman Vision 2040 Implementation Follow-up Unit’s strategic support team identified more than 300 developments in 10 driving forces, which, he said, are climate change, technology, geopolitics, health, the social aspect, robots, food security, Covid-19 repercussions and the continuous improvement of business and local developments.
The international and national indicators being revised by Oman Vision 2040 are being reviewed by a team from the Ministry of Economy, the National Centre for Statistics and Information and Oman Vision 2040 Implementation Follow-up Unit, said Al Jabri.
As a result of improvement of oil prices and the financial situation, projects began to go back to normal, with RO 200 million added to development projects, said Al Jabri, noting that, in 2023, a sum of RO 200 million was added and allocated to various projects.
Nasser Khamis al Jashmi, Secretary General of the Ministry of Finance, also presented a visual display spotlighting key factors that gave rise to the Fiscal Balance Plan and approaches undertaken to achieve the goals of Oman Vision 2040. The presentation also covers Oman’s credit rating since 2014, Oman’s financial position at the global level from 2010 to 2020, the impacts of Covid-19 pandemic on the country’s financial situation and mechanisms to mitigate it.
Al Jashmi explained that a sustainable financial situation is important for the attraction of investments and is closely associated to economic growth.
Al Jashmi added that goals of the National Programme for Financial Sustainability and Development of the Financial Sector call for focus on improving the state’s public finance, completing related initiatives and consolidating the financial sector system’s readiness to absorb upcoming developments in the investment and economic sectors.
Al Jashmi observed that emphasis should be laid on making the financial system a major enabler for attaining the goals of Oman Vision 2040, raising the rate of competitiveness, augmenting the participation of the private financial sector and supporting it to provide suitable funding options for various groups, while at the same time expanding the volume of the financing market.
Al Jashmi added that the outcomes of improvement in oil prices includes the acceleration of economic growth by increasing developmental spending beyond allocations approved in the State Budget towards a total of RO 1.1 billion, with an increase of RO 200 million that would be channeled to urgently needed projects that have an economic and social impact.
Al Jashmi pointed out that a second outcome was the development of policies that enabled the State to contain inflation by increasing government subsidies for fuel and basic food commodities by more than RO 760 million, which, he said, contributed to reducing the impacts of global inflation.
With regard to the social protection system, Al Jashmi said that it was compiled with the participation of government institutions, pension funds and segments of society. He explained that the system seeks to address current problems in retirement systems and ensure their sustainability, address current complications in social programmes and endorse a principle for determining criteria for entitlement to benefits based on life cycle risks rather than case studies.
Al Jashmi said that the design of a modern national protection system is in line with the approaches and aspirations of Oman Vision 2040. It constitutes a shift from programmes based on case study to a comprehensive coverage system, in addition to merging civil, military and private funds. This also includes a shift to an integrative design comprising “subscription-based insurance programmes” and “minimal protection programmes”, he added.
Dr Mahad Said Ba Owain, Minister of Labour, said that the National Employment Programme (NEP) is an independent, executive national system launched under Royal blessings in 2021.
The NEP deals with studying the employment system in two concepts: Supply and Demand. Supply caters to jobseekers and their capacity building, while demand deals with the labour market, the economic situation and finding sustainable employment solutions in accordance with the objectives of Oman Vision 2040.
Ba Owain pointed out that the NEP will launch the "Marsad" electronic service specialized in providing detailed data for decision makers about the labour market, jobseekers and students studying in various educational institutions.
He added that “Khuta” (steps) platform emerges as the first interactive national electronic platform that provides students and jobseekers with specialized counseling services, as well as comprehensive data on higher education study programmes, employment opportunities and the nature of professions in the local labour market.
The platform also offers specialized training courses on future and basic skills, said the minister.
He explained that goals for supporting and promoting self-employment include the initiation of a regulatory package to facilitate jobseekers' espousing this option, the establishment of an attractive environment to streamline commercial registration and assuming that self-employment comprises a ratio of Omanisation in contracting companies and within social insurance. The motion envisages making contracts and tenders designed for self-employment, as well as support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the availability of an electronic link so that the system becomes clear and easy to follow up.
The minister pointed out that minimum wage is being reviewed and that this is a purely economic matter based on the profitability system, supply, demand and skills.
He explained that between 2011 and 2012 employees received their belated promotions, and that the Ministry is currently embarked in coordinating with the Ministry of Finance to study the promotion of belated promotions for batches from 2013 to 2018.
The minister explained that Ejada system for individual performance is aimed at improving the System of Promotions, which stipulates that, after a ‘referral period’ of 3 to 4 years, a high-performance employee deserves a job promotion.
He stressed that, as per the system, the termination of services of private sector employees is only done in the presence of the production parties and in accordance with clear-cut legal provisions.
The forum included a discussion session with officials concerned. The session covered three aspects of Oman Vision 2040, fiscal sustainability and employment initiatives. The queries raised by the forum’s attendees were answered during the session.