Muscat: Measures to bring relief to four financial commitments crucial to workers are being drawn up by the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are currently looking at protecting four aspects that are very important to workers: their rents, their salary, their continuing employment, and their ability to pay back bank loans,” said Ahmed Al Hooti, head of Economic Research and a Board Member at OCCI.
“We are currently part of a think tank involving the government and the private sector, and are in discussions with both His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik and the public sector,” he added. “The government is currently working on a recovery package that will not just look at the country from an economic perspective, but also from a financial and administrative point of view. Therefore, we expect there to be a package of reforms to help the country recover.”
OCCI has also submitted a number of recommendations to the concerned authorities regarding the exclusion of shops of some activities from the security measures, and partially making them available to the consumer and for limited times due to their importance in providing basic needs for their daily life, compliance with the health and preventive procedures.
These activities include sale of construction materials, sale of spare parts, maintenance and repair of cars, selling and repairing mobile phones, sale and repair of electronic and electrical devices, sale and repair of tires, aluminum and carpentry workshops in industrial areas, contracting companies and engineering consulting offices, car rental offices and equipment rental offices, which is what has been achieved over the past few days.
“Right now, one of the main problems we have is protecting the labour force employed by companies, whether they are locals or expats,” said Al Hooti. “Many of them are unable to work now because of the economic problems brought about by the coronavirus, whereas others are still going to work in the field, so how do we protect all these workers and their jobs?
“We are looking at a way to safeguard their salary and their rent this year, so that they are able to survive,” he added. “Ensuring the survival of companies is the major challenge for both ourselves and the government this year. Recovery will not be easy, but I think that in the case of smaller economies, it is not as big a challenge as well.”
Al Hooti was hopeful that following the easing of measures in countries such as China, where the coronavirus originated, exports would also increase in volume.
"I feel, that if OPEC decides to reduce its production rates, so that supply and demand are balanced, then things will get better, but this will take time," he explained. "The Chinese for example, have already begun to resume their lives, so if we are able to resume exports to the Eastern half of the world, in such a manner that helps us achieve 60 to 70 percent of our export needs, then we will be able to recover."