The government has exerted a lot of effort on the civil society to adopt a culture of saving money in the Sultanate. More awareness and a sense of urgency is required to enhance the culture of savings and investment in them.
The culture of saving money is no stranger to Omanis. They put away a part of their salary or monthly income in a bank account for building a house, buying a property or car or saving for children’s education in university or a private college.
Financial institutions and the civil society need to attract more young people towards savings and educate them so that keep off debts.
No one can deny the importance of honestly-earned money and how to acquire it, which requires budgeting for family, working the basics of maintaining household, planning spending for family, clearing debts or any additional expenditure. It also entails purchasing items that can be resold later and instilling a financial culture in individuals along with ways to distribute income.
This is where the role of institutions that provide services in the field comes into play. On their part, Omani banks have taken an initiative in this regard in the form of attractive deposit and savings schemes.
For over four decades, some banks have been following this policy by promoting and encouraging a culture of savings locally through the launch of savings programmes. They have seen success as a result of distribution of generous cash prizes and moral support to customers. These programmes have led many Omanis to deposit their money in banks.
These programmes continue to receive good response. Banks have been holding weekly, monthly or quarterly draws besides special draws on events such as national holidays.
A survey conducted by the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI) in March 2017 showed that 56 per cent of the population have accounts or deposits in at least one of the local banks in 2016, of which 68 per cent are Omanis compared with 46 per cent expatriates.
It was found 85 per cent of individuals believed winning a bank prize could make a big difference in their life, while 83 per cent believed these prizes encouraged savings and enhanced customer loyalty to banks. 81 per cent feel they are good areas of investment.
It is only logical that many people agree savings programmes in Oman need more attention, focus and promotion, especially with the lack of studies that determine the amounts saved by citizens on a monthly or annual bases. Thus, it is difficult for researchers to acquire detailed knowledge of issues related to savings.
Undoubtedly, the government institutions, the private sector and civil society need to have more programmes specialising in and urging people to save both at the level of government institutions and individuals.
This can be achieved through all channels available to educational and religious institutions and the community. Hence there have been calls from civil society and some economists in the country, emphasising the importance of savings for now and the future. Everyone needs a cushion of savings at all times and it is not limited to individuals alone, but also commercial enterprises and government institutions. Saving money is important for individuals to cover expenses in the future, especially the big ones, to avoid dependence on others or the government.
For businesses, capital saving enables them to finance and invest in expansion and growth, and increase their ability to hire more people.
As for the governments, savings enable investment in infrastructure and social services such as schools, hospitals, public housing and other infrastructure projects.
Savings programmes in the Sultanate need to follow-up and document all the detailed data in order to be reliable in the internal financing of projects and the need to understand the importance of savings in the current period.