Oman plans to boost efficiency of public spending, upgrade public services and utilities

Oman Tuesday 21/September/2021 16:38 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman plans to  boost  efficiency of public spending, upgrade public services and utilities
The Ministry of Economy (MoE) has made available the digital version of the ‘Strategic Programs Folder’.

Muscat: Oman is making efforts towards achieving digital transformation, with the aim of raising efficiency of public spending, upgrading public services and utilities, improving the management and economic leadership of the Sultanate’s resources, and strengthening the principles of governance, transparency and accountability to place Oman among developed countries

The Ministry of Economy (MoE) has made available the digital version of the ‘Strategic Programs Folder’, one of the most important documents of the 10th Five-Year Development Plan (2021-2025) which lists result-based mechanisms for effectively implementing the Plan and also achieve objectives of Oman Vision 2040.

The Folder lists 430 Strategic Programmes divided as per the Plan’s four broad themes and 12 priorities, in addition to the priorities of developing the youth sector and information and communication technology, which were introduced during the development of the 10th Five-Year Development Plan.

The first theme, ‘Man and Society’ includes 156 programmes, the second, ‘Economy with a Competitive Structure’ lists 165 programmes, the third and fourth themes ‘Sustainable Environment’ and ‘State with a Responsible Administrative Apparatus’ list 56 and 53 programmes, respectively.

The Strategic Programmes Folder was prepared as per the methodology approved by MoE. While the Sultanate has good experience in developing strategic plans overall, it was felt that some of these were not delivering desired results.

This prompted MoE and its working groups to adopt result-based planning to ensure that strategic objectives of the long-term vision and the medium-term development plan are linked to specific and tangible outcomes for citizens.

For example, improved public services will lead to higher living standards, a more attractive investment and business climate, a competitive economy on the local and global levels and creation of new job opportunities for Omanis. This result-based mechanism will also contribute towards protecting the environment, fighting climate change, and promoting sustainable use of resources. Finally, these outputs overall will lead to administrative, institutional and legislative development that will create jobs, boost productivity, enhance participation and achieve good governance.

For the Plan’s development, the Ministry’s and the Plan’s working groups were keen on applying a “participatory planning” approach and included a larger number of participants representing relevant government agencies, the private sector and civil society.

This approach has made all parties equally responsible for implementing the Plan’s Strategic Programmes, achieving their goals, and providing resources to address the challenges that may face implementation. The Plan's working groups held a total of 195 events including workshops and coordination and consultative meetings with focus groups. These were attended by 1,900 participants.

While developing the Strategic Programmes, the working groups used best international approaches and practices such as selecting a specific goal from Oman Vision 2040. Once the goal was chosen, the team provided a simplified description for it and listed the best methods (collectively called a Strategic Program) to achieve it.

The team then identified the main entity responsible for its implementation. The final step was estimating the program’s cost and implementation period.

This methodology ensured that the rules of good governance were applied in managing the programmes and their allocated resources.

The ‘Strategic Programs Folder is an important step in the transition towards performance-based budget which links the available current or development funding to outputs and tangible results. It also links the assessment of the state’s administrative apparatus (individuals and institutions) performance with specific and actual programmes and results.

The Ministry is currently reviewing a follow-up and evaluation mechanism to publish a document listing performance indicators. For this, the Ministry and the Plan’s working groups are paying great attention to follow-up and evaluation principles to ensure that the Programmes are implemented as planned. To this end, they have developed specific input and output indicators, which will also measure the final impact of the Strategic Programmes, in conjunction with performance indicators of Oman Vision 2040.

It is worth noting that Ministry of Economy, in cooperation with the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers and the Follow-up Unit for the Implementation of Oman Vision 2040, has prepared a simplified methodology to assist relevant ministries and stakeholders in transforming Strategic Programmes into annual plans and specific projects.

The Ministry of Economy and the 10th Five-Year Development Plan’s working group are leading an ambitious programme to develop the strategic planning system by adopting result-based planning and gradual shift towards programme-based and performance-based budgeting.