Read also: Oman government has no choice, says Shura Council member
Muscat: Increased work visa fees could add OMR148 million to government coffers over a two-year period.
Read here: Job visa fees for expats to rise by 50 per cent in Oman
On Sunday, the Ministry of Manpower announced that fees for foreign workers in Oman will be increased by 50 per cent and the new fee structure will come into effect when it is published in the Sultanate’s official gazette.
Omani government figures for October reveal that, currently, there are 1,485,615 expatriate workers in the private sector here, excluding domestic workers.
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To hire a fresh expatriate worker or to renew the visa for an existing worker, employers will have to pay OMR301 instead of OMR201, after the new ruling comes into effect.
In the aftermath of a severe fall in global oil revenue, the Oman government will receive an extra OMR148 million in fees, should every worker currently listed in the government data renew the visa or be replaced by another foreigner.
Oman’s government posted a budget deficit of OMR4.32 billion ($11.4 billion) in the first eight months of 2016, according to latest official figures.
Tawfiq Al Lawati, a Majlis Al Shura member, said: “Government doesn’t have any other option as the economic conditions are bad. However, personally, I feel that this move will have a negative impact as the prices of services and goods will go up eventually when the cost of visa is going up,” the Shura member who is also a member of the economic panel, said.
Cushion budget deficit
Ahmed Al Hooti, an OCCI member, said that government has only limited options to cushion the budget deficit due the oil price dip, but they all concerned by the move.
“This will push us to increase the rates for our services, prices for our goods and eventually shoot up inflation. People will feel the pinch,” he said, adding that this move should be reconsidered when the economic condition in Oman improves.
According to government statistics, most expat workers who come to Oman do so to work in the construction and auto industries.
There are 639, 209 expatriate workers in the construction sector, followed by 209,888 workers in the automobile sector.
The mining and quarry sector has 189,477 expatriate workers, while hotels and restaurants have 99,711 workers. The real estate sector employs 80,374 expatriate workers, according to government data.
The top five sectors alone will bring in OMR136m extra for the government, should visas be renewed and departing workers are replaced by foreign labour.