Sultanate taking ‘historic steps’ to support businesses and investment

Oman Sunday 16/January/2022 21:45 PM
By: Times News Service

Muscat: Oman is taking ‘historic steps’ to encourage more business to set up shop, and attract more investments to commit to funding operations in the country.

That’s according to Qais bin Mohammed Al Yousef, the Minister for Commerce, Industry, and Investment Promotion, who explained in great detail the steps taken to transform Oman’s economy into one that is diversified and sustainable.

The guidelines for economic expansion have been laid out in Oman Vision 2040, a set of plans launched by His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik that aims to provide sustained growth, good opportunities, and decent standards of living for all.

“We are proud of this action-oriented strategy designed to chart a new, bold and sustainable future for Oman,” said Al Yousef.

“Launched in January of last year, by order of His Majesty the Sultan, this is a progressive development strategy built on four main pillars: people and society; economic development; governance and institutional performance; and environment and sustainability.”

The minister added that four main plans have also been drawn up in support of Vision 2040: the Five Year Development Plan (2021-25); the Medium Term Fiscal Plan (2021-24), also known as Tawazun; the Economic Stimulus Plan; and the Social Security Scheme.

“The purpose of these is to increase the private sector’s resilience, attract investment, and especially aid the post COVID-19 recovery,” said Al Yousef, speaking in London at a recent meeting of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce.

“I want to underline to you that these are historic steps taken to ensure the right support is in place for Omani businesses, help firms get through the challenges of the pandemic, protect and create jobs, reinvigorate Oman’s economy, and secure the nation’s economic future,” added the minister.

During the meeting, Al Yousef also shed light on the benefits provided under the Economic Stimulus Plan, which was formed as a direct result of conversations held with local and international businesses, designed to support the economy.

Benefits include interest-free emergency loans, tax and fee reductions and waivers as well as the flexibility to pay taxes in instalments. Other elements of the ESP are a 25 percent reduction in land rents in the Special Economic Zone and Madayn industrial estates from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2022.

Also included is the opportunity for foreign companies to own land over 5,000 sqm that is either commercial or commercial-residential, tourism or industry related.

“I am pleased to say the ESP and other SME support packages are already making an impact on our business environment and delivering dividends,” explained the minister. For example, at the end of the fourth quarter of 2021, the number of businesses registered with the SME Development Authority rose to just over 64,000, a jump of 17 percent compared to figures released at the end of the second quarter of 2021.

“Set up by Omani entrepreneurs, many of these businesses are responding to the changing needs of a post-COVID economy,” added Al Yousef.

“And there is good reason to be optimistic about their long-term success as some of the world’s best-known brands such as Uber, Disney, FedEx, Microsoft and WhatsApp all rose out of tough economic times – something worth reflecting on.”