New rules set to create 33,000 jobs for Omanis
December 28, 2015 | 10:00 PM
by REJIMON K [email protected]

Muscat: Around 33,000 Omanis will get managerial jobs in the construction sector in the coming months, as the ministry has issued new regulations for firms in the industry, a top official from the Oman Society of Contractors (OSC) said.

“If implemented properly, 33,000 new managerial jobs will be created for Omanis in small companies in the sector, which either have a low Omanisation rate or are not following Omanisation policies,” Shahswar Al Balushi, chief executive officer (CEO) of OSC, told the Times of Oman.

However, just a few weeks ago, Al Balushi had said that 55,000 Omanis in the construction sector are on the verge of losing their jobs due to oil price fluctuations.

“These jobs will be created at smaller companies, which are not connected to government projects and are not linked with oil price fluctuations,” Al Balushi added.

According to the new regulations, which will come into effect in the coming months, a construction company’s capital should not be less than OMR25,000 and one of the shareholders should be dedicated to the management of the company.

The new regulations have been devised for construction companies by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in collaboration with a number of organisations to regularise the sector and limit hidden trade and duplication of records.

If none of the shareholders are employed in the company’s management, an Omani manager should be appointed and registered with the Public Authority for Social Insurance.

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New jobs

“If we go ahead with following the rules, then we can achieve 12 per cent Omanisation in the sector, which means that around 33,000 persons will get new jobs,” OSC CEO Al Balushi added.

The current Omanisation rate in the construction sector stands at 7.8 per cent, which comes to around 55,000.

The new regulations, however, will exert further pressure on companies, industry bosses admitted.

“The new system will make it very difficult to work in Oman as there is less work and more pressure from the government to meet the Omanisation target,” said Mohammad Kabir Ahmed, managing director of United Dreams LLC.

He also admitted that for the last couple of years, companies had not been getting visas for expat workers in the construction sector. “The government is providing us clearance only if it is a government project,” he said.

Another construction company boss said there aren’t enough people to work in the construction sector.

“Some of the nationals available in the construction sector are interested in working in certain categories, such as drivers etc,” said a contractor from a leading firm.

Al Balushi, however, added that this would place additional pressure on small companies as most of them are involved in private projects, which are not dependent on oil price fluctuations.

New regulations

“The new regulations were announced two years ago. However, two years leniency was announced. Now, the time has come to implement it,” Al Balushi noted. Recent data points out that the number of expatriates working in the construction sector, reflect an increase of workers.

Omanisation rate

Meanwhile, 44 per cent of the total number of expatriates in the Sultanate work in the construction sector, which has an Omanisation rate of not higher than 7.8 per cent.

The number of Omanis working in the construction sector at the end of March 2015 decreased to 56,265, compared with 58,731 at the end of May 2014, showing a 0.6 per cent decrease.

The Omanisation rate in third and fourth-grade companies, where 300,000 expatriates work, is 0.9 per cent.

“Through the new rules, we will be able to bring in all small companies into the fold and provide protection for the customer. At present out of the 100,000 companies operating in the sector, only 18,000 are operating actively.

“The rest are either inactive or are following hidden trade. We want to avoid this and bring in good practices in the sector,” Al Balushi said, adding that there are enough Omanis, who are capable of taking up new jobs.

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