Muscat: A flexible approach should be adopted by the authorities to allow reasonable increases in the prices of goods and services, but they should prevent companies from taking advantage of the situation, said an official.
Commenting on the impact of the rise in fuel prices on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), Abdullah Al Jufaili, general manager of Sharakah, said every economic change and decision would inevitably have an impact on SMEs so they should be considered in the decision-making process.
SMEs live in an ecosystem where everything is related to each other so the increase in the fuel prices would definitely increase their operating expenses, including production and transportation costs, Al Jufaili told the Times of Oman.
Therefore, logic dictated that if a business wanted to remain sustainable and maintain a margin of profit, it would have to increase the price of its services or products to compensate for the increase in the costs of production or provision of services, he noted.
However, it should not provide an opportunity for certain companies to ‘hijack’ the situation and introduce higher prices without any reasonable basis, the official added. According to Al Jufaili, the prices should be monitored closely, but at the same time there should be some room for ‘flexibility.’
“My message is, ‘Never look at things in isolation.’ We need to keep in mind that all of this is part of the ecosystem that an SME lives in, and we should be careful when we are deciding on new regulations or changes in the economy,” he stated.
In addition, Sharakah’s general manager said that instead of viewing the current economic situation as an ‘irregular’ situation, the positive aspects of it and its long-term implications should be considered.
Tough times like this would show which organisations have been following the best practices in various areas to ensure sustainability and which ones have been running without a clear strategy, he said. The organisations that survive this difficult time would be strong organisations for years to come, Al Jufaili added.
Consumption Patterns The official also believes that the ongoing economic changes can help improve lifestyle habits and consumption patterns.
Many people just tend to spend more when their income increases and may fail to maintain the right balance, he said, adding that people should be well aware of what they can afford. Asked whether the increase in fuel prices would positively affect the environment, Al Jufaili said he does not expect to see an immediate reduction in the number of vehicles on the streets.
If any change is seen at all, it may be that some people would prefer to have small-engine vehicles, he explained.
Commenting on the public transport system, Al Jufaili said improving the system was already underway, but the more important issue is that the city’s planning cannot accommodate public transport in the best way possible.
Still there is lack of the necessary facilities for the pedestrians, he noted, adding that addressing this issue would help encourage the use of public transport and facilitate walking and cycling across the city.
Improving work culture in Oman
Improving the work culture in Oman is a shared responsibility and requires collective efforts, said Abdullah Al Jufaili, general manager of Sharakah. Commenting on the manpower regulations in Oman, Al Jufaili said that he appreciates and understands the fact that the Ministry of Manpoweris trying to maintain the level of expatriates in Oman at a certain level and also to provide more opportunities for locals.
However, on the other hand, the challenge is that many of these jobs are not welcomed by Omanis, he told Times of Oman. According to Al Jufaili, changing the work culture in Oman is not the responsibility of a particular group or organisation and everybody has a role to play in improving the situation.
It has to start ‘within the person’ and not everyone should expect to have a desk job if their skills, degree and qualifications make them suited for another type of job, he stated.
Al Jufaili also believes that the community should not look down upon any job as long as it is a decent job being done within the ethical business practices.