Duqm: The Special Economic Zone Authority at Duqm (SEZAD), on Sunday announced reducing the processing period of investors’ applications stated in SEZAD regulations and legislations.
This step comes in an attempt to accelerate investment in the Special Economic Zone in Duqm (SEZD) within the framework of SEZAD’s vision 2030, gearing towards making Duqm an investment destination of choice with various economic activities, an integrated hub and a modern city that offers the highest life standards.
Commenting on this decision, SEZAD Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ismail bin Ahmed al Balushi said that reducing the processing period of investors’ applications is another positive step towards attracting investors by completing their applications speedily, as well as reducing the periods, which had long been determined in SEZAD regulations, and approved by the Board of Directors.
The CEO added that SEZAD will amend the existing regulations and legislations to keep pace with the new amendments. “The digital transformation plan being currently implemented by SEZAD has contributed on reducing the time required for completing investors’ applications, leading to have this decision that serves investors and customers alike when processing their requests. In addition, investors can get their business license from SEZAD in just one day without approaching other entities once all required documents are submitted. This will ensure that projects can start their economic activities in a speedy and flexible manner,” Dr Ismail pointed out.
“The Special Economic Zone Authority at Duqm (SEZAD) compiled all SEZAD services provided for investors and composed an integrated services guide, that describes investment requirements, applications processing periods, and prescribed fees of each service. The guide also provides an overview of SEZAD, the investment incentives of the Special Economic Zone at Duqm and investment steps. SEZAD will be printing the services guide in the coming few months and upload it on SEZAD website to facilitate investors access”, Dr Ismail commented. The guide, which is around 100 pages in Arabic and English, introduces around 60 different services to investors.
The CEO touched on SEZAD services for investors and the main amendments on services processing periods, pointing out that processing usufruct application requires 5 days instead of 30 days in the past as stated in existing regulations of SEZAD. In fact, processing usufruct applications takes several stages to be completed by the competent departments including Land Usufruct Department, Urban Planning and Survey Department and GIS Department. The first stage in Land Usufruct application starts with the investor choosing the required land and area. SEZAD gives investors the right to choose the land depending on the project type and its feasibility; subsequently the One-Stop Shop contacts the investor within 5 working days and provide him with a sample of the usufruct agreement for his revision and comments before signing the agreement.
The new procedures include reducing projects registration from 5 days to 15 minutes only. SEZAD offers investors’ two options to register their companies, either by visiting the One-Stop Shop in Duqm or Muscat to register the company and pay the prescribed fees in 15 minutes or by processing the registration through the services portal on SEZAD website and paying the fees online.
Dr Ismail al Balushi stated that SEZAD welcomes various types of companies from different parts of the world. He pointed out that, investors can register their projects in the commercial register of SEZD in any legal form available in the Sultanate as per the new companies law issued in 2019. The new law came up with the sole company as a legal form to start their business. In addition to that, investors can register their companies as a branch of a local company whose main business headquarter is outside the Zone or register as a branch of an international company whose main business is a broad.
The guide summarises the investment steps in the Special Economic Zone at Duqm in five main steps. Investment starts with the investor filling the online land usufruct form. If the required data is complete, the investor will get an initial approval and SEZAD will allocate the appropriate land for the project according to the master plan of the Zone that includes a variety of available investment zones, such as commercial, industrial, tourism, logistics and others. Once investors approve the allocated land and register the project in the commercial register of the Zone, s/he shall pay the prescribed fees and sign the usufruct agreement. SEZAD grants investors two years as a grace period of usufruct rental from the date of signing the agreement.
According the new procedures of reducing the processing period of investors’ applications, these steps will not take more than 5 days. Once the investor receives the usufruct agreement and cadastral drawing (Krooki), he registers the appointed consultancy office to design and execute project drawings and submit them to SEZAD through the Services Portal on the website. Subsequently, the investor obtains the necessary licenses and permits according to project type before starting the project construction on ground.
The guide specified the required time for obtaining business license with one day only instead of 15 days as stated in SEZAD Investment Environment Regulation issued in 2015. SEZAD has reduced the period for granting environmental permits from 40 to 25 days for heavy and petrochemical industries as it requires environmental studies, and 5 working days for medium industries and 2 days for light industries. The guide also specified the renewal period of environmental permits by 3 working days for heavy industries and 2 days for medium and light industries.
The services guide comes in 6 Sections, the first: land usufruct, second: commercial registration, third: licenses, visas and customs, fourth: permits and building approvals, fifth: permits for public utilities, and sixth: environmental permits.
In addition, the new amendments include reducing the time required for issuing investors work permits, recruitment of foreign workers, workers transfer and secondment, custom exemption to one day instead of the previous five days stated in the applicable regulations and legislations of the Authority while mortgage register is reduced to 30 minutes instead of 5 days.
SEZAD provides around 30 services in building permits and licenses field through the One-Stop Shop. According to the new amendments, plot demarcation would take 2 working days only and building permit is processed in 5 days instead of 15 days in the past. Moreover, the building permits renewal, addition and change now is completed in 2 days.
On his concluding note Dr Ismail al Balushi, CEO of the SEZAD, commented that SEZAD is keen to improve its services in line with the Sultanate’s efforts towards attracting foreign investments, creating promising environment for local investment to grow, contributing to economic diversity and providing jobs and businesses for Omani youth.
The CEO added that SEZAD didn’t stop its services during Coronavirus pandemic, nevertheless SEZAD activated its online services and other platforms to support investors including WhatsApp account (71144433) to receive investors enquiries and transfer them to competent departments to contact investors and provide them the required services. –ONA