Relief measures necessary to ease woes of Omani businesses: OCCI

The Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI has welcomed policy measures unveiled by the government, represented by the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Oman (CBO), to help provide succour to businesses impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
According to a top official, many of the measures announced on Wednesday stem from weeks of efforts by the Chamber seeking to nudge the government into coming to the aid of Omani firms and small businesses impacted by the double whammy of the global economic downturn compounded more recently by the Covid19 crisis.
“We are grateful for the pronouncements by the CBO and other competent authorities, which will provide some relief to companies hurt by the crisis,” said Murtadha M J Ibrahim al Jamalani (pictured), Chairman, Finance & Insurance Sectors Committee – OCCI.
“The country is currently going through a tough time not only from the virus threat, but also from the slowdown in the economy. It has thus become very crucial for the public and private sectors, as well as society as a whole, together with corporates to come together and work collaboratively to overcome these challenges,” he noted.
In comments to the Observer, the official acknowledged that a number of Omani businesses have been impacted by the pandemic. He explained: “The challenges faced by Omani businesses precede the coronavirus crisis. The global economic downturn has been weighing on local firms for some time before the pandemic aggravated matters. But we have been working very closely with all of the competent authorities, including the CBO, Capital Market Authority (CMA) and Ministry of Finance to consider measures aimed at easing the financial troubles of local firms.”
OCCI’s recommendations for the consideration of the CBO and other authorities included sops such as deferred instalment payments, restructuring of loans, flexible repayment terms, reduced interest rates, and so on.
Further, in an effort to give added momentum to public-private-partnership (PPP) initiatives and thereby support economic growth, OCCI has urged banks and lending institutions to introduce attractive lending terms and other incentives.
According to Al Jamalani, OCCI’s outreach to the authorities began nearly a month when the Chamber hosted an ‘Economic Evening’ at Majan University under the auspices of Shaikh Abdullah bin Salim al Salmi, Executive President of the Capital Market Authority (CMA). Panellists included Taher bin Salim al Amri, Executive President of the Central Bank of Oman (CBO), as well as high level officials of the CMA, OCCI, and Oman Banks Association.
Various speakers representing OCCI called for assistance to beleaguered businesses and SMEs weighed down by outstanding loans, liquidity concerns, steep collateral demands and high interest rates.
“The OCCI Chairman and Board Members through the specialised committees of the Chamber continue to negotiate with the relevant authorities in the country to soften the financial impact on individuals and corporate members of the economy,” Al Jamalani added.