Foreign investment law to boost Oman's growth

Business Sunday 17/January/2016 22:52 PM
By: Times News Service
Foreign investment law to boost Oman's growth

MUSCAT: Amendments put forward in the foreign investment law will boost investment opportunities and act as a catalyst for the Sultanate’s economy, according to businessmen and officials.
“If the government is going to ease the foreign investment law, it would be a boon for investors. Now, we face many hurdles, especially in finalising investment procedures. If the ministry of commerce and industry is going to have the final say, then half of our work will be done,” Anvwar Al Balushi, chairman of Anvwar Asian Investment Group, said.
Further, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has announced amendments to the draft foreign investment law, including revocation of the mandatory registration licence, the requirements for general local ownership, and a requirement for a minimum investment of OMR150,000.
The ministry said that the bill clarifies organisational responsibilities regarding foreign investments and provides further openness for investment.
Welcoming the move, a top official from the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) said that Oman needs large global investors, and easing the law will assist the economy.
“At present, small and medium investors are coming to Oman. They are welcome. However, real change will happen only when big investors arrive in Oman,” said Mohammed Hassan Al Ansi from OCCI.
“Openness will help the economy. But at the same time, local investors also have to be protected,” Al Ansi added.
Meanwhile, Abu Anwar Al Raisi, a government employee, said that since the law is still a draft, it is not known whether this is a good move.
“It has to go through a trial phase at first to determine what the outcome will be. Only then will we know if the law is feasible,” Al Raisi added.
The draft law is aimed at achieving certain goals by replacing the existing foreign investment capital law with clear regulations thatreflect international standards,as well as the Sultanate’s international obligations to the International Trade Organization, bilateral agreements and GCC agreements.
The ministry has said that the licensing general requirements will be in place and the government will hold the prerogatives forenlisting the investment areas that are allowed for foreign investors, as well as ensuring the fundamental rights of investors, in line with international regulations.
The ministry has also said that the draft investment law will contribute to the transferring of incentives to the private tax and customs law, after a comprehensive review removes provisions relating to the incentives of the investment law, while continuing to be regulated by the system.
“When the government aligns the foreign investment law according to global standards, it will ease the situation and help investors to grow and also to contribute their part to the country’s economy,” remarked Mohammed Bhuiyan, an investor.