Strengthen economy through timely intervention

Ali Al Matani  – ali.matani2@gmail.com – The Sultanate is on a path of economic diversification. Global economic challenges and fall in oil prices have forced the nation to explore alternate avenues to meet the economic challenges it has been facing in the past few years.
The policy makers have rightly identified the growth opportunities and alternate avenues to boost the economy through initiatives such as Tanfeedh.
In this regard, all stakeholders, including the government, have a crucial role in preparing an atmosphere conducive for business and commerce. Easing norms to establish commercial and investment opportunities for national and international investors in the public and private sectors would be the right step forward.
In a recent meeting with the Council of Ministers, the Chairman of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry discussed the various factors affecting investment and the partnership between public and private sectors. In view of the deliberations of the meeting, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos has given the nod to seek the opinion of stakeholders in the private sector about the various challenges they are facing.
Oman is blessed with natural resources and attracting investors from among locals and global investors is the need of the hour. Investors are exploring convenient and timely opportunities to invest and establish while they seek hassle-free procedures without time lag. Cooperation and coordination between public and private sectors have a pivotal role to play in this.
The government has a crucial responsibility towards creating an investor-friendly environment in Oman to attract investments, especially foreign investors, and appointing specialised consultancy offices to liaise and issue relevant approvals and permits to the prospective investors. The existing rules and regulations need to be reviewed and amended to suit the current requirements.
This could open up an opportunity to strengthen the coffers through various fees collected by providing speedy services to the applicants. Introducing a preference system or time-bound service system would be ideal. The success of this preferential service system has been proved by the Ministry of Housing and Ministry of Justice.
Investors and business owners would not be opposed to paying an additional fee for speedy and efficient services. Establishing a unified system involving the various authorities for issuing approvals and permissions through a single window system to minimise procedural delays will attract more investors and bring revenue to the coffers.
Today, investors in Oman face a lot of obstacles such as procedures and ensuing delays that kill investors’ enthusiasm and discourage others from investing. Delays also impact the financial strength of the prospective investor, affecting his opportunities of growth which in turn negatively impact the economic development of our nation. The aftermath could also lead to fall in revenues, drop in employment avenues for Omani youth, market collapse and would negatively affect import and export.
While spelling out these adverse factors, I am not being pessimistic, but the truth needs to be stated. The main bottleneck is not with the legislations or existing procedures but in the process of conducting and completing the procedures. The officials concerned need to be trained to prioritise and improve their capabilities.
The Sultanate’s efforts to improve the country’s business performance index have been commendable on various fronts and the OCCI’s role is laudable. Compared with the previous years, there has been a positive change. OCCI can play a much important role in streamlining the procedures and establishing a unified single window for prospective investors keen on setting up a business venture.
There should also be a mechanism to help the international investors set shop in the Sultanate without chasing them away through the innumerable channels one has to pass through and the time lapses which could be detrimental for the investor.
No need to say that access to the required infrastructural facilities
go hand-in-hand with procedural facilities.
The meeting of the Council of Ministers and OCCI is a welcome move and we hope this step would help in evolving pragmatic strategies to showcase the Sultanate as an investor-friendly nation in the global market.