Major forum to showcase Oman’s PPP strategy

MUSCAT, SEPT 21 – The Omani government, represented by the Supreme Council for Planning and the newly established Public Authority for Privatisation and Partnership (PAPP, is hosting the first-ever national forum on Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) next month, seeking to showcase a wealth of opportunities for investment and development via the Sultanate’s newly adopted PPP mechanism.
The two-day Public Private Partnership Forum Oman will take place at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, Muscat, during October 7-8, 2019. It is the first major forum to be organised by Oman’s authorities since the promulgation of landmark statutes last July enshrining a regulatory framework to support the delivery of projects and public services under the PPP model.
The Public-Private Partnership Law, promulgated by Royal Decree 52/2019, incentivizes private sector investment in infrastructure projects and public services that contribute to the diversification of national income sources. This signature statute will be administered by the Public Authority for Privatisation and Partnership (PAPP), a high-powered entity upgraded from the erstwhile Omani Authority for Partnership for Development (OAPFD).
Underscoring the importance accorded to PPP as a new platform for private sector partnerships with the government in the implementation of key initiatives, Darwish bin Ismaeel al Balushi, Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs, will deliver the keynote address at the opening on October 7. Also due to present at the inaugural session is Talal al Rahbi, Deputy Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Planning.
Deliberations over the ensuing two days will focus on a range of topics, including: the structuring of PPPs in Oman, the underlying regulatory framework, examples of successful PPPs in infrastructure, health and education, financing structures, and the role of Islamic financing in PPPs.
Significantly, the forum will also outline an array of opportunities identified by the Omani government that are most prospective for implementation via the PPP model.
Earlier this year, the Implementation Support & Follow-up Unit (ISFU) — a task force operating under the auspices of the Diwan of Royal Court, outlined a substantial portfolio of projects, envisaging investments of around RO 2.5 billion, for implementation under the PPP model. Those proposals emerged during deliberations with experts hosted by Tanfeedh (The National Programme for Enhancing Economic Diversification) earlier in the year.
Proposed PPP ventures are as follows: Ministry of Health: Al-Falah new General Hospital in Jaalan Bani Bu Hassan; Bahla Hospital; New General Hospital in Samayil, and Al-Namaa General Hospital in Al Mudhaibi; Ministry of Regional Municipality & Water Resources (MRMWR): Public Park in Nizwa, Ibri Souq, Slaughter House in Liwa, and Slaughter House in Khasab; Ministry of Tourism: Al Batinah Coastal Road; Al Maabela Interchange (Muscat Expressway); Khasab Port Development, and Shinas Port; and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries: Development of Fishery Harbours in Masirah, Mirbat, Kumzar and Sadah.
Significantly, around eight other projects have either been tendered out or have already awarded for development under the PPP route in 2018. They include fishing ports in Al Suwaiq and Taqah, a service workshop in Khasab Port, marine facilities in Sohar Port, fish packaging factory in Khasab Port, Central Livestock Market in Al Suwaiq, and an Innovative Investment Project in Khasab Port.
The PPP model, according to experts, enables governments to provide incentives via partnerships with the private sector to develop sectors or commercial activities in areas that lack these assets or services. Such PPP projects can be implemented, for example, through the provision of access to land or resources that allow the private sector to develop a commercial venture in lieu of rent or royalty payable to the government. In this particular example, the assets do not revert to the government at the end of the partnership agreement.
An alternative PPP model envisages private investments in social or commercial initiatives, such as training support or the promotion of an economic development project. In this type of PPP project, the government’s contribution typically comes in the form of a grant, interest free loan or other such involvement.