Several issues were raised by Qais bin Mohammed al Yousuf, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion (MoCIIP), at the first media meeting held recently in the presence of representatives of various media outlets. The Ministry, after reviewing all of its strategies for the year, emphasised its commitment to attracting investments to expand the industrial and services sectors in the country.
The Ministry vowed to work in a harmonised manner, thus signalling to local and foreign investors that they will receive a clear-cut and coherent response to their applications and queries. There have been instances in the past of investors abandoning plans to invest in response to dithering, bureaucracy, and the plurality of agencies dealing with their applications.
The Ministry also reaffirmed its commitment to promoting Omani exports to various countries around the world, by capitalising on Oman’s seaports and airports to enhance non-oil exports.
It will strive to end the hegemony of some merchants who have monopolised as much as 50 per cent of goods and services. At the same time, it is working to protect merchants from unfair foreign competition via terms dumping, imports of cheap and inferior merchandise, and other uncompetitive practices.
This will protect national products and support the growth of high-spec and high-standard exports. It will also spread awareness among citizens and institutions of the importance of buying national products, especially through government procurement.
In addition to supporting national industries, promoting exports and attracting investments, the Ministry is preparing to launch 50 industrial investment opportunities after evaluating their feasibility — a move that will pull in around RO 200 million into the national economy, as well as promote import substitution and limit foreign exchange outflows.
It is also working to address the problem of multiple commercial registrations, which constitute a hurdle for investment and increase the risks posed by the hidden trade.
The hidden trade in particular relies on expatriate workers who, when made redundant at some point, then flood the local market.
At the same time, the Ministry is embracing modern paperless processes to help create a competitive work environment aimed at reducing time, effort and bureaucracy in its dealings with investors.
Also, as we prepare for the implementation of value-added tax, there will inevitably be an increase in the prices of some goods, products and services, potentially adding to the pandemic-induced woes of many owners of small and medium enterprises.
Everyone is eager today for an improvement in the pandemic situation, so the task of promoting investments can be pursued vigorously. After all, foreign direct investment and economic diversification are key to driving job creation for citizens as set out in Oman Vision 2040.
Haider al lawati