Muscat: Oman's Public-Private Partnership Forum began yesterday, bringing together hundreds of experts who will explore opportunities for partnerships in Oman.
Partnerships are a crucial part of raising the efficiency of services for people in Oman and creating jobs in the private sector.
Darwish bin Ismail Al Balushi,, the Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs, said in a speech: "The convention of this Forum is a practical reflection of the Royal directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to support and enhance the role of private sector in the development efforts as being an essential and effective partner in the economic development.
"His Majesty the Sultan always stresses the importance of PPP in terms of playing a greater role in establishing development projects in various sectors to provide infrastructure, establish productive projects, improve the level of services provided to citizens, and provide new employment opportunities for Omani cadres."
"The PPP programmes are among the most prominent tools harnessed by many countries to create, finance and operate development projects, provide public services, and raise the efficiency of resource utilization by offering these projects to the private sector through the adoption of the principles of transparency, equal opportunities, and fair competition," he added.
According to the minister, Oman has worked with the private sector since the Rennaissance.
"Although the PPP concept has emerged clearly in the region after the decline in oil prices since 2015, the Sultanate of Oman has embarked on the PPP principle since the dawn of the blessed renaissance rendering it a pioneer in this field at the regional level. For example, the government has played a significant role in supporting this partnership in key sectors, such as electricity generation, water desalination, port construction and management, and telecommunications," he added.
According to Talal Al Rahbi, Deputy Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Planning, the forum is working with international experiences to bring the best global practices to Oman.
Al Rahbi said: "During its sessions, this two-day Forum hosts speakers from prestigious international institutions and specialists in the field of public-private partnership to achieve its objective.
"We want this Forum to be a way to gain insight into best global practices in the field of public-private partnership and a platform for localising and harmonising global experiences in the Sultanate, reviewing models of some investment projects between the two sectors and identifying the reasons for success and continuity," he added.
Oman is using the private sector in planning for projects as well, which helps improve Oman's five year plans.
Speaking about the role of the private sector in planning development sustainably, Al Rahbi said: "The Ninth Five-Year Development Plan encompasses our aspirations for an effective and real public-private partnership. Since the preparation of the said Plan, its methodology relied on participatory work between all stakeholders and specialists from all sectors in order to formulate development goals and set targets in all economic and social sectors. It is an ambition for the government apparatus with all its institutions and a roadmap for the private sector and investors, both locally and abroad," he added.
The forum will showcase international and Omani speakers in the field, as well as show the importance of partnership projects.
According to the SCP, regardless of the economic conditions, "Governments are still required to keep their development role by developing infrastructure and creating opportunities for investment and job creation, which has placed tremendous pressure thereon. In turn, they have started to search for other alternatives for financing and investment as most world countries took the initiative to implement the idea of Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
"The World Bank defines the PPP as "a long-term contract between a private party and a government entity, for providing a public asset or service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility, and remuneration is linked to performance". On the other hand, the principle of the PPP aims to enhance efficiency in some services outsourced to the private sector and sharing revenues and risks.
The PPP concept centres on investing cooperation between these two sectors with a view to promoting the joint use of resources and achieving transparency, taking into account the optimal achievement of the objectives of the concerned parties.
"One of the most important components of the PPP is the allocation of risks between the State and investors or partners. Partnership is not only in capital or profits, but also in risks, in the sense of identifying the risks of each individual project," the statement added.
"The PPP aims to serve and strengthen the development role of government aimed at achieving a sustainable economy based on knowledge, competitiveness, experience, diversity, and thus achieving economic and social development, with better results and outputs than those each party can achieve separately. This takes place through the exchange of experiences and knowledge, reaching better standards and expanding the financial resources available because of cooperation between both sectors.
"Moreover, the development of the PPP principle also helps guide the role of the government in focusing on the development of policies and strategies for the infrastructure sector and monitoring and regulating service providers. In addition to providing private capital, knowledge, and experience in project management, this would contribute to shorter lead times for implementation and lowering and improving the cost of services."
According to a statement by the SCP, "Under the auspices of Darwish bin Ismail Al-Balushi, the opening ceremony of the Oman Public-Private Partnership Forum 2019 was held at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Center in the presence of a number of excellencies and officials from the public and private sectors."