The Tenth Five-Year Development Plan (2021-2025) kicked off on January 1 in accordance with Royal Decree No 1/2021.
It is the first plan within the strategic Oman Vision 2040 under the patronage of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik. With this, a new era commences for a qualitative shift in the sultanate’s development march, the Ministry of Economy stated following approval of the Tenth Five-Year Development Plan.
The ministry added that the plan reflects His Majesty the Sultan’s approach as stated in his speech to the country on February 23, 2020, in which he outlined the salient features of national action in the next phase. These include restructuring the State’s Administrative Apparatus, facilitating youth engagement in development efforts, empowering women in different spheres, and developing laws and legislations in a manner that accommodates present and future requirements, which will in turn accelerate the pace of comprehensive and sustainable development.
The Tenth Five-Year Development Plan launches Oman Vision 2040, which focuses on four main axes ramifying into 14 national priorities, 88 strategic goals and 68 performance indicators.
The First Axis is themed ‘Society manned by creative individuals’. It focuses on education, learning, research, national talent, health, citizenship, identity, heritage, national culture, welfare, social security and youth development.
The Second Axis, themed ‘Economy imbedded in a competitive environment’, deals with issues of leadership, economic management, economic diversification, fiscal sustainability, labour market and employment, the private sector, investment, international cooperation, development of governorates, sustainable cities and information technology.
The Third Axis, themed ‘Environment whose resources are sustainable’, covers aspects of the environment and natural resources.
The Fourth Axis, themed ‘A state with responsible institutions’, deals with issues of legislation, the judiciary, auditing/monitoring, governance of the State’s Administrative Apparatus, resources and projects.
Preparations for the Tenth Five-Year Development Plan were done during exceptional adverse conditions, including the slump in international oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry stated.
The collapse of oil prices brought about a negative impact on human development, a global recession, surge in the general debt vis-à-vis the GDP that pulled down the country’s credit rating and increased the rate of borrowing. All this contributed to a decline in the contribution of the private sector to economic activities.
Despite shortcomings, the plan managed to restructure goals and reformulate clear-cut national approaches linked to timed executive programmes. It also restored economic growth, accelerated the rate of economic activities and achieved a balanced ratio of economic and social development through the execution of programmes, initiatives and proposed projects within a comprehensively regulated timeframe.
The first stage of preparation of the plan focused on evaluating what was achieved earlier and tapping the outcome of strategies, plans and research made by the state’s sectors. This stage included expanding the base of participation and the formation of committees and specialised working teams. Drafting of the plan took into consideration the current economic circumstances and the actual fiscal performance of the previous five-year plan.
Since December 2019, 195 workshops and technical meetings have been held with the participation of more than 1,900 officials. During this period, the current situation and existing challenges were reviewed.
The plan seeks to achieve a number of economic and social priority goals with the prime objective of activating the economy, developing macro-economy environment, upgrading the performance of general finance, rationalisation of public spending (particularly recurrent ones) and espousing an expandable, well-disciplined financial policy that achieves sustainable growth rates.
The plan also targets setting up necessary infrastructure for the acceleration of private investment, and the execution of major strategic projects and public-private sector partnership projects, besides attracting direct foreign investment, while at the same time considering prospects for oil prices based on an average price of US$48 per barrel during the years of the plan. This is in addition to backing the participation of governorates in the achievement of the Oman Vision 2040 goals.
The plan focuses on economic diversification mechanisms and programmes, and raising the contribution of non-oil activities. It sets a 3.2 per cent annual average growth rate of non-oil activities in the GDP by focusing on promising economic sectors like high-tech conversion industries, agriculture, fisheries, food processing, transporting, storing and logistics.
It also targets increasing the contribution of the private sector to economic activities of high in-country value, motivating small and medium enterprises by encouraging innovation, expanding the knowledge-based economy and use of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) applications such as artificial intelligence, exploring specialised markets, and generating employment opportunities for Omani youth, notably entrepreneurship.
The plan lays great emphasis on protecting human capital and diminishing the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, pressing ahead with the development of a health scheme and the sector of medical industries, encouraging the contribution of the private sector to the health sector by providing high-quality services, developing pre-university and graduate education, and laying the foundations of administrative, economic and financial decentralisation.
In addition, the plan covers the protection of the environment, achievement of environmental sustainability, development of green and blue economy, increasing the contribution of clean and renewable energy to economic activity, and achieving the most ideal utilisation of marine resources.
Employment of national manpower figures among the most formidable socio-economic challenges. Despite the fact that performance rates of the national economy do provide enough employment opportunities, the labour market could not cope with the steadily increasing number of job seekers.
To address this challenge and to regulate labour market discrepancies, the Tenth Five-Year Development Plan endorses policies that contribute to modifying the structure of employment (which currently relies on a wide base of non-skilled manpower) and introduces a new structure based on a wide base of skilled manpower through recruitment of skilled labour and offering incentives. The plan also encourages new investments based on the knowledge economy, developing the education system and increasing the participation of women in the labour market. Dr Said al Saqri, Minister of Economy, said the plan will create 135,000 jobs at a rate of 27,000 jobs annually in the public and private sectors.
The achievement of goals, objectives and programmes of the plan is closely associated with the cooperation and collaboration of all government and private establishments, civil society institutions, the media and individuals. The Ministry of Economy will conduct regular assessment of the Tenth Five-Year Development Plan, prepare periodic reports and submit these to the departments concerned. The assessment will apply smart performance indicators, follow up programmes and evaluate their effects over the five years of the plan within the framework of a regulated institutional system entrusted to the vision’s follow-up committee. An electronic platform established for this purpose will unify the performance indicators in cooperation with the departments concerned.