CONRAD PRABHU -
Muscat, MAY 8 -
Oman’s authorities have embarked on a plan to enhance the features and capabilities of the Invest-Easy portal aimed at dramatically simplifying licensing of new businesses looking to start-up and invest in the Sultanate.
The objective, according to the Implementation Support & Follow-up Unit (ISFU) — a task force operating under the auspices of the Diwan of Royal Court to facilitate the speedy diversification of the Omani economy — is to integrate as many government ministries and public agencies as possible whose no-objections and approvals are necessary for new investors to commence operations in the Sultanate.
Presently, as many as 27 government entities are part of a cumbersome approvals process governing new business and investment applications — a bureaucratic exercise ISFU wants to streamline and integrate into the Invest-Easy portal administered by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. As all 27 government entities have their own disparate methodologies and legal systems for signing off on individual applications, plans to incorporate them into the Invest-Easy platform will inevitably be time-consuming as well as challenging, ISFU acknowledged in a recent update on the initiative.
Accordingly, ISFU has chalked out a roadmap, complete with performance milestones, to help deliver on its plan to upgrade Invest-Easy into a high-level one-stop licensing portal for business and investment applications.
“Invest-Easy is an initiative launched by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) that seeks to simplify the process of starting a business across all economic activities and will be a key factor for companies to do business in Oman whilst encouraging internal and external investment,” said the Implementation Support Unit.
Targets set by the Task Force in 2018 to help advance the Invest-Easy initiative include a performance milestone to integrate as many as 12 government entities into the portal. It also sought to reduce the average time for securing 95 per cent of licence approvals via the Invest-Easy route to 15 years.
ISFU’s roadmap seeks to ensure that at least 15 of the 27 government entities that are stakeholders in the overall licensing process are integrated into the Invest-East portal. These entities, deemed as playing the most important in role in the overall licensing process, comprise the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance (PACDA), Ministry of Manpower (MoMP), Dhofar Municipality, Ministry of Tourism (MoT), Suhar Municipality, Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources (MRMWR), Secretariat General for Taxation (SGT), Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA), Information Technology Authority (ITA), Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF), Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (Ithraa), Ministry of Transport and Communication ( MoTC), Freezone Sohar, and Muscat Municipality.
Significantly, the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) has already been integrated into the platform to grant business licenses related to the tourism sector. “Invest-Easy will positively impact Oman’s score in the ease of doing business (EODB) index and Ithraa will be a partner to promote and market it. The most important service which the initiative will be focusing on integrating in 2019 is that of the labour clearances procedures,” the task force added.