HM’s address, Vision 2040 strategy offer food for thought

The salient features the recent Royal speech of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik continue to resonate in various official circles and within civil society institutions. The speech and the Oman Vision 2040 strategy were key theme at the Al Khonji Forum attended by a number of business persons.
Well-known contractor Samaan Karam touched on some of salient points in the Royal speech, as well as Oman Vision 2040, which aims at placing the Sultanate in the ranks of developed countries in the upcoming phase.
The goals of the Vision strategy are well-known. These include creating a society where the Omani citizen is creative, proud of his/her identity, innovative and competing at a global level, whilst enjoying a decent life and a sustainable well-being.
The Vision also aims at building an economy with an infrastructure that is competitive, dependent on production and diversity and based on innovation and integration of roles and opportunities, with the private sector.
Moreover, the Vision seeks to establish responsible bodies in terms of effective governance and oversight. All these implications were derived from His Majesty’s speech, which gave priority to directing future work in the fields of knowledge, research and innovation, and the orientation towards investment in education, production and diversification.
It goes without saying that a competitive structure needs to achieve a number of elements, including creating dynamic economic leadership, a diversified and sustainable economy based on knowledge, an attractive job market for competencies and a private sector that leads a competitive economy.
Everyone knows that the speech, and the goals of Oman Vision 2040, will remain the frame of reference for government action during the next phase.
The implications of the speech are numerous, and some of them focus on those related to developing a national system of employment in the public and private sectors, reviewing employment systems and labour policies, restructuring the administrative apparatus of the state, reducing debt, increasing income and diversifying and sustaining the economy, with the need to work with integrity in all disciplines.
Achieving this requires eliminating some of the difficulties that the private sector faces in the labour market, such as banning companies, issuing permits, job titles, concepts of market economy in proportion to the capabilities of this sector and the efficiency of workers, recurring holidays, and other matters that affect the productivity of the private sector and its professionals besides other issues that significantly affect the operation of companies and institutions.
In response, some private sector employees have put forward a number of practical solutions that should be applied under Oman Vision 2040, including the establishment of a council for top businessmen, owners of companies and institutions and retirees to learn from their vast experience in stimulating local investment on one hand, and work as a partner to foreign investors on the other hand.
They also believe that there is damage to the private sector from the presence of competing government companies operating directly in real estate, tourism, production and services projects, which keeps the government from playing its role in the free economy and from legislation, regulation and management as well as competition with the private sector, at a time when government companies must be privatised to be able to improve their performance, reduce the cost to the government, and increase annual profits.
Considering that tourism is one of the promising sectors, it is important to encourage this sector and allow those who spent several years in the Sultanate to own real estate, give tourism the absolute priority over the coming years, qualify and train youth to carry out the promotion process and appoint commercial attaches to the Omani embassies abroad.
Among the issues raised during the forum was a proposal to reconsider the taxes and fees on investors along with judicial procedures and the need to finalise procedures in civil ministries electronically like what is practiced by Royal Oman Police.
It is also important to review the work of the Ministry of Manpower with institutions and companies, urge labour courts to expedite the implementation of decisions and emphasise the importance of accountability and oversight of the responsibilities entrusted to the persons responsible, combat favouritism, dependency, and bureaucracy and develop a plan to employ Omanis in the event of the merger of government institutions and ministries.