Muscat: Oman Vision 2040 Implementation Follow-up Unit managed to develop and follow up the implementation of 34 initiatives and projects in 2021, in cooperation with the competent government agencies,.
This drive follows the priorities of Oman Vision 2040, related to the economic and development priorities. They come under three programmes to improve the business environment in Oman to it an attractive investment destination and to stimulate different national and foreign investments, after taking into consideration all legislative and procedural aspects.
Eng. Mohamed Said Al Masrouri, General Supervisor of Business Environment Sector at Oman Vision 2040 Unit, said that the three business environment improvement programmes are related to the two priorities of (the private sector, investment and international cooperation) and (the judiciary, legislation and supervision). He added that the business environment improvement programmes are: (planning and developing investment tools and opening markets), (simplifying and digitising government services), and (legislation, judiciary and supervision).
With regard to planning and developing investment tools, he indicated that during 2021 work was done with the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion to develop and follow up the implementation of 8 initiatives, which comes under the framework of this programme and pertain to empowering the investment sector in Oman and motivating different investors.
Among these initiatives fully activated during the current year is granting the permanent residence to the investors, in which was completed 100 percent as more than 200 cards have been granted to the investors. This indicates to the foreign investors’ desire to benefit from this feature and push them to stay in Oman and follow up their investments.
Eng. Al Masrouri also said that within the framework of the fast track initiative, which was 100 percent completed, the technical committee (emanating from the programme’s supervisory committee) moved forward to exceed a number of projects that were resolved during the year 2021. He added that the target was to complete 9 projects, but the number of the completed projects during the year reached 25. >A4
There is a plan to develop the initiative, during the current year, to include setting standards, a clear path and a systematic mechanism for those projects facing challenges, as well as following up their implementation.
In addition, some initiatives have witnessed a significant progress, including the unified national investment strategy, which aims to identify the economic sectors targeted for investment and propose appropriate incentives for them, as well as identifying the international partners in those sectors and its implementation mechanism, and enabling various government agencies to implement it in a systematic manner and with clear targets.
During the year, work was done on setting the main objectives and work scope for project strategy, as well as getting approval of the authorities concerned to move forward reaching to its implementation and initiating the implementation plan preparation for the project and the time frame for its implementation. An agreement was also approved with a private sector company to finance work strategy. It is hoped that it will be completed and delivered during the current year.
With regard to simplifying and digitising government services to create the business environment and facilitate the procedures associated with it, Eng. Al Masrouri explained that during past year, Oman Vision 2040 Unit worked with the authorities concerned to develop and activate several major initiatives and projects in a bid to activate this programme in its first phase and address the factors that affect the quality of government services provided to investors, including developing and activating the automatic licensing mechanism (Invest Easy System).
Oman is a pioneer in implementing this system in the region through re-engineering procedures for issuing various licenses for economic activities and its issuing mechanism. As a result of this work, 1,524 economic licenses (88 percent of the total approved economic licenses) were added to the automatic licensing system in its first phase, which was widely welcomed by business community in the Sultanate of Oman.
The initiative was considered a qualitative leap and an advanced step in simplifying the different procedures and improving the business environment, which comes not only at local level, but also regionally. Data indicate a doubling in number of the issued licenses compared to same period in past years, which reflects the achievement of objectives for which this initiative was undertaken.
Al Masrouri explained that work is currently underway on the second phase of the initiative, which includes: integration with manpower import permit system, integration with lease and commercial sign system, in addition to simplifying and unifying the classifications of economic activities and standardizing their fees. It is hoped that with completion of the activation of this package, the national licensing system will be an integrated, stimulating and attractive system for investment.
The second initiative is the establishment and activation of an investment centre in Oman. The project is to establish an “investor services centre” as one of the important and effective tools in facilitating investors’ procedures and avoiding the multiplicity of parties when the investor seeks to complete the requirements of implementing any investment project. The initiative seeks to make (Invest in Oman) a possible center that works in accordance with the best international practices to serve the different investors (locals and foreigners) and complete all their required procedures.
In regard to improving, simplifying and digitizing procedures for the government services, he explained that this initiative aimed to review government procedures, re-engineer and simplify their operations using (lean) methodology and ensure the sustainability of continuous improvement.
He indicated that the initiative activation began in April 2021 by holding various workshops to transfer knowledge and skills related to simplifying procedures for government institutions related to procedures and licenses related to the investment system. The simplification of 84 service procedures has been completed, including three institutions that have completed simplification of all related procedures. All of these procedures will be completed during the current year. In addition, more than 36 government employees have been trained in these authorities to achieve sustainability element in these institutions.
Work is also underway to implement other initiatives which already approved for simplification and digitisation of government services program, which are scheduled to be completed and activated during the current year.
With regard to the judiciary, legislation and oversight, Eng. Al Masrouri said that during 2021 work was carried out with the Administrative Affairs Council for the Judiciary to develop and follow up the implementation of eleven basic initiatives under the framework of this program concerned with creating an advanced and highly efficient judicial and justice system that establishes the best international practices in the field of justice and arbitration.
The initiative of e-transformation of “Judiciary” Platform” is considered one of the most important initiatives that was activated during 2021. Then services provided by that platform were restructured and improved.
During same year, work was carried out on the project of digitising the notary public, which is considered one of the most important projects that were included in the plan of the Administrative Affairs Council for the Judiciary in 2021. The project aims to activate the electronic mechanism in providing the services of the notary to the beneficiaries so that the service is self-service and is provided remotely.
Work is also underway during the current year to implement other initiatives and projects according to the approved implementation plan, as well as adding several other initiatives during this year, which will contribute to enhancing the judicial system efficiency in order to achieve the goals of Oman Vision 2040 priority related to legislation, judiciary and oversight.
Inspired by the Royal directives of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik in this regard, the efforts will continue during current year to complete what has been worked on during the past year and develop new initiatives and projects that will contribute to achieve qualitative leap in improving business and investment environment.