Local solutions key to tackling challenges of doing business

Haider al Lawati haiderdawood@hotmail.com

Doing business is never easy, especially in the current situation where the effects of COVID-19 are having a negative impact on businessmen and women. It takes prudent planning and feasibility studies to start any business amid such challenges facing economies around the world.

Market experts offer advice on the steps to be taken when conducting business in these difficult circumstances. According to Khalid Ansari, CEO of Oman-based Al Anwar Holding Company, business entrepreneurs must keep in mind a number of imperatives: prudent management of cash and working capital, work to establish lean and effective organisations, create an environment that conserves spending, and carefully evaluate and understand the risks when pursuing opportunities.

As we know, the total Omani population numbers approximately 4.5 million people today, and the challenges facing the country stem from the decline in world oil prices, on the one hand, and the spread of the coronavirus, as has occurred across much of the world, on the other hand. The decline in oil prices is a major challenge that needs a long time to address. This has led to many losses in commercial business as well as in the real estate sector. Experts believe that the economy will continue to face over the foreseeable future in the form of, among other developments, layoffs involving both nationals and expatriates. People believe that without government support, businesses will continue to suffer from the impacts of the pandemic, resulting in the closure of some institutions and their activities.

Among the organisations that are particularly hard hit are hotels, restaurants, shops, airlines, travel agencies and so on. Unless rescued, some of these service providers will eventually close their operations, thereby impacting other businesses dependent on them for their revenue.

Since the beginning of 2020, the decline in world oil prices has impacted the state budget. As businesses endure the effects of the pandemic, they

may not be in a position to shoulder the taxes liable to be paid by them. On the contrary, they may need more government support and incentives.

Therefore, it is very important for businesses to adapt to the present reality and focus on locally available resources and opportunities, dispense with some products that need to be imported, and support the Omani economy through value-addition. It is also necessary to explore new ideas in partnership with government institutions, the private sector, universities and scientific research centres and industrial hubs, and come up with local solutions to these challenges. We need to support the growth of productive institutions that can provide robust solutions to drive Oman’s economic growth.