Muscat: As part of its ongoing convening, the Supreme Committee tasked with tackling developments resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic discussed updates about the pandemic, means of protection against the disease and ways to curb the spread of the virus.
After studying the impacts of the pandemic on private sector establishments and, to enhance the sustainability of businesses and their ability to adapt to the exceptional situations, the committee decided the following:
* Waiving fines charged against licenses issued by government departments for the activities indicated in Annex (1) which expired or due to expire through the period 1 June 2020 to 31 December 2021 provided renewal takes place.
* Waiving fines charged against renewal of non-Omani labour cards and associated fines for cards which expired or due to expire during the period 1 June 2020 to 31 December 2021, for those who have terminally left the Sultanate or for those who renew the cards.
* Waiving fines accrued on various establishments and companies due to non-renewal of their commercial registers and licenses, provided they do renew the registers and licenses during 2021.
* Allowing employers to renew expired labour permits for workers who are still abroad, while at the same time waiving related fines resulting during the period of 1 June 2020 to 31 December 2021.
* Absolving small and medium establishments of entrepreneurship card renewal fees charged against all expired commercial activities during 2021. The committee also took the following decisions valid till 31 December 2021:
* Granting labour permits in lieu of leaving labour, for all segments and as per the prescribed fees set for each segment.
* Urging banks and financing firms to cooperate with ‘affected’ borrowers, notably small and medium enterprises (holders of Riyada business cards) by re-scheduling the loans, without charging fees for that.
* Absolving small and medium enterprises of registration fees in “Isnad” system affiliated to the Tender Board.
* Absolving small and medium enterprises of land usufruct (development) fees and postponing the repayment of outstanding dues.
* Postponing the repayment of small and medium enterprises’ premiums indicated in Annex (1)—for holders of Riyada business cards benefiting from the (previous Al Raffd Fund) financing loans.
* Waiving rental fees payable by owners of small and medium enterprises for the activities indicated in Annex (1)—of holders of Riyada cards—regarding real estate properties owned by government departments and authorities.
The committee also reviewed reports on the epidemiological situation, locally and globally. It noted that a general decline occurred in numbers of cases of infection with Covid-19, hospitalisation, admission to ICUs and deaths in the domestic front.
It noted, however, that many countries of the world are experiencing successive waves of the pandemic, marked by the emergence of new variants of the virus. Thus, the committee said, mandates the intensification of efforts to control the situation, lest a rapid setback might happen and lead to a spike in cases of infection.
The committee received evidence that many parties and individuals do not abide by the precautionary measures set by the departments concerned, particularly commitment to vaccination as a pre-requisite to entering government establishments and business outlets (commercial complexes, restaurants, etc.), as well as venues were hosting group activities (cultural, sports, social, etc.).
Yet, the committee regrets detecting other types of violations, including the holding of large social gatherings, non-wearing of face masks and non-abidance, in some establishments, by the precautionary measures.
The committee affirms that the authorities concerned will continue to penalise the offending parties and individuals and will shut down any establishments found in breach of the precautionary measures.