Muscat: A master plan for developinig Sur Industrial Estate was completed by the Public Establishment for Industries Estates (PEIE), even as plans are afoot to establish four other industrial estates in different governorates.
Addressing the media, Hilal bin Hamad Al Hasani, Chief Executive Officer of the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE), said that Sur Industrial Estate is expected to attract $2 billion investment, mainly from heavy industries. “A tender will be announced for the development of Nizwa and Sur Industrial Estates.”
Also, new industrial estates are planned in Thumrait, Musandam, Sinaw and Al Mudhaibi. These development plans are under feasibility studies.
PEIE has been able to attract major investments to Sur, Sohar and Knowledge Oasis Muscat and especially Sur Industrial Estate. By the end of this year, the development of Sumail Industrial Estate and seventh phase in Sohar Industrial Estate will be completed. Also, the second phase development of Al Mazunah Free Zone will commence, and the expansion of Raysut Industrial Estate will be launched this year.
Al Hasani added that early work for expansion has been completed for several industrial estates, which include the commercial area in Rusayl Industrial Estate, facility building and residential village in Sohar Industrial Estate, sixth and seventh buildings in Knowledge Oasis Muscat, and facility building in Sumail Industrial Estate.
“Work is underway to announce a number of investment opportunities in the various industrial estates in 2018,” he noted.
Total investment at OMR6.3b
Al Hasani said that the total investment in various industrial estates have touched OMR6.32 billion, showing a growth rate of 5.5 per cent. The volume of investments increased by around OMR329 million, which makes the total volume of investments around OMR6.32 billion compared to OMR6 billion by the end of 2016.
By the end of 2017, total number of projects within industrial estates touched 1,873, which are in various stages of implementation. Of this, 64 per cent are existing, 20 per cent have been allotted land, and work is underway to establish 16 per cent of these projects. As many as 62 per cent of these projects are industrial, 27 per cent are commercial and 11 per cent are service related projects. The PEIE has also managed to lease more than 695,000 square meters of the lands in the various industrial estates to investors during 2017. By the end of 2017, the total leased area has touched approximately 34 million square meters.
Talking about the investment pattern, he said that 42 per cent of the total investment within the industrial estate is from foreign investors, while 58 per cent is from local investors.
Al Hasani said that India constitutes 20 per cent of total investment in industrial estates in Oman, while investment from other GCC countries is estimated at 15 per cent.
Refuting rumours that some of the companies are planning to relocate from Buraimi, he said that it is not true. “We are providing all facilities at competitive rates.”
Referring to the economic slowdown in the aftermath of a decline in oil prices, Al Hasani said that PEIE has restructured its legal system, to ensure global competitiveness in attracting foreign investment. In addition, PEIE has considered its industrial estates to act as business incubators.
“PEIE has an integrated legislative guide to act as a base for local and foreign investment, regulate the relationship between PEIE and the investor, as well as regulate the relationship with all parties involved in the investment process.”
Al Hasani noted that under the new legal framework, all prior approvals for the acceptance of investment have been cancelled, and usufruct or leasing rights will be as per requirements related to practicing investment activity. This will allow the approval of investment application and signing of investment contracts to be finalised within ten days maximum.
In terms of simplifying the procedures, PEIE announced that under the new investment regulations, the managements of the industrial estates have been granted with the authority to approve investment applications up to 100,000 square meters of industrial land without referring to the management of PEIE. The regulation sets a period of ten days maximum to give a response back to the investor. In order to ascertain the seriousness of the investor, a period of thirty days has been set from the date of the application’s approval until the signing of contracts and completion of investment procedures
“The practice of investment activities in the estates has been linked to a practice license that is renewed annually, and shall be granted and renewed only to investors who meet the requirements. Among these requirements is meeting the Omanisation rates in the job opportunities,” he said, adding: “The new regulations clearly define the rights of investors and their obligations. The regulations also indicate the obligations of PEIE towards the investors.”
Moreover, Al Hasani pointed out that restrictions have been placed on sublease and non-licensees are not allowed to engage in any activity within the estates in order to provide protection for the entrepreneurs and SMEs, limit shadow investment and not to undertake any activities that are in contrary to the Sultanate’s obligations.
“PEIE has also included controls that regulate the work of contractors and suppliers within the estates and control their relationship with the investors in such a way that guarantees their rights and the rights of investors. The regulations also specified clear restrictions and conditions for the building and construction in the estates, and determine the response period by the concerned parties within specified time periods.”