Monday, June 05, 2023 | Dhu al-Qaadah 15, 1444 H
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Promote national products in government projects


Ali Al Matani - -

As the economy is passing through a tough phase and the government is looking for avenues to strengthen the industrial sectors, it is wise to do some introspection on the available resources to boost the economy.

Oman is dependent on import of various products and services from global providers, whereas the nation is self-reliant in a few areas. Encouraging and developing those local products and services by improving such sectors to match global standards is the first step towards progress.

Giving growth avenues to local industry and advancing it for the benefit of the nation and people enhances revenue generation. If we want to develop Omani industry and advance it as an engine that leads the economy, motivating investors is vital.

Ensuring that products are available across the Sultanate and incentives for promoting those products can be encouraging. Public sector can play an important role by making it mandatory to buy only Omani products.

If we are confident our products are of high quality, then we should promote it.

For example, during bidding for procurement purposes, Omani products are considered if the price quoted is 10 per cent higher than imported products as per rules and norms. But that is not the reality.

The truth one gets to know from the Omani manufacturer is a story of struggle and pain they go through to convince authorities and owners of companies in government projects to buy their products. Is that the kind of support required for the national industry? This happens while the doors are open for imported products without any economic/ scientific justification.

As if it’s a fact that imported products are of better quality than ours. This is what authorities have to inspect. There are many projects where imported products are given preference.

Can we consider what is happening to be a healthy phenomenon? In such a situation, how can we demand that owners of national industries recruit nationals in their factories and companies?

Today we are at crossroads. If we really want to develop our industries, we have to promote our products by buying and using them. There is no middle-path when it comes to solving this issue.

Currently, many of our products are in demand and exported to many countries. Exhibitions are held in countries to increase the export and to enhance business and production, while some national projects prefer to buy imported products. The matter has to be inspected and those responsible for such situations have to be punished.

In some countries like Algeria if a national product is available, import of products is banned to support the local industries. Other countries impose taxes on imported products to increase their cost. A lot of procedures are put in place to stop free entry of goods.

We are not demanding a ban on imported products. It is a strange paradox. How can we support the industry to replace imported products, while our own government departments and ministries don’t buy our products.

It’s true that competent authorities like the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Public Authority of Investment Promotion and Investment Development, Public Establishment for Industrial Estates and Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry are supporting the national industry and motivating investors in every way possible. But that not enough in the presence of other entities that prefer foreign products.

What’s required is the enactment of regulations and laws that make it mandatory for everyone to buy national products as in Qatar and other GCC nations, where the authorities lead by example.

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