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Shura Council wants govt to shoulder the burden of higher minimum wages

Muscat - 

A study by the Shura Council has recommended a hike in the minimum monthly salary from RO200 to RO350 for citizens in the private sector and suggested that the government subsidise the difference.

In an interview with Muscat Daily, Dr Mohammed bin Ahmed al Habsi, advisor at the Shura Council, said a number of recommendations based on the study were sent to the Council of Ministers to restructure the way Omanis in the private sector are supported.

“Our recommendations include raising the minimum salary from RO200 to RO350, developing the social insurance law and improving pension entitlements on par with the government sector,” he said.

“The government was giving RO150 to job-seekers while they are sitting at home because the youth found it difficult to join work for RO200. So our recommendation is that it adds that RO150 to the existing minimum salary of RO200 to make it RO350. With regard to improving the social insurance law, the government should boost what is already being paid by the companies. With that, many would take up jobs in the private sector.”

Dr Habsi did not agree that the recommendation on minimum wages would prove to be a burden for the government. “This would act as a boost for a specific number of years to be decided by the government till the youth get experience. From there, the company would not mind giving the same amount after they gain work experience. This would also help reduce the government expenditure on employing many Omanis because many would join the private sector instead of the government, thereby reducing the oversupply of manpower in the government sector.”

The Royal Orders issued last year had asked all private companies to cooperate with the decision to provide 50,000 jobs to Omani nationals after the need for more employment was felt in early 2011. Major private companies have since risen to the occasion, offering to employ more nationals in addition to the existing number.

Dr Habsi said that the Shura Council has also recommended that private sector employees who earn less than RO500 should get housing loans without interest and land plots, provided they complete at least seven years in the sector. “The government needs to increase its contribution to private sector employees instead of just creating jobs in the government sector as there will be an oversupply of manpower in the civil service sector,” he said.

According to Ministry of Manpower statistics, the number of Omani nationals in the private sector reached 214,636 as of June 2012; as many as 30,647 citizens were recruited by various private companies across the country in the last one year as part of their Omanisation programmes.

Dr Habsi said the Shura Council has called for more efforts to enable the private sector to support national economic growth, which can then help fulfill the aspirations of building a modern knowledge-based economy.

“There is a need to revise the Omanisation process; setting the percentage of Omanisation in companies will never work. There has to be an understating between the companies and the government and they should work together in this regard,” he said.

ABOUT THE STUDY

The Shura Council's recommendations are based on a study that it conducted on 'job seekers and employment challenges in Oman'. Dr Mohammed bin Ahmed al Habsi, advisor at the Shura Council, said that the study is based on six months of research and discussions. It contains five chapters that cover various aspects such as the problem and challenges of job-seekers; employment in the private and public sectors; and education and training.

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