His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik’s interest in enhancement of business environment, besides his support and encouragement to the private sector, is an impetus for national and foreign investments, Qais bin Mohammad al Yousef, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, has said in appreciation of the adoption of the Economic Stimulus Plan (ESP).
Yousef informed that the ESP includes various initiatives and support systems, and tax and fee exemptions to encourage investments. The plan reflects His Majesty the Sultan’s interest in the national economy and his support to the private sector for it to play its role as a partner of the public sector.
“The Economic Stimulus Plan is an important turning point in the process of absorbing the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes certain initiatives to create movement in the economy and deal with the problems which have adversely affected the private sector and entrepreneurs,” the minister said.
Yousef noted that the plan adopted by the cabinet is based on five main axes: tax and fees incentives; incentives to improve the business environment and investments; support to small and medium enterprises; banking; and the labour market and employment.
Implementation of the plan
According to Yousef, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion (MoCIIP) will implement the plan in a way that serves the national economy and make doing business in the sultanate easy. It will also implement all the initiatives and mechanisms of the plan.
The minister said that the ESP provides a number of incentives for business and investment, including reduced fees for foreign investment companies operating in five priority sectors: tourism, manufacturing, mining, fisheries, and transportation and logistics services, in addition to the sectors which support these.
The plan includes incentives to improve the business and investment environment in the country. These are designed to help in conducting business after obtaining an initial licence which will allow investors to practice commercial activity without waiting for the final licence. The concerned authorities, however, will inspect and monitor the investor’s compliance with the requirements on commencement of activities. The ministry will formulate rules for this purpose, the minister said, noting that the plan will lead to boosting the flow of foreign direct investment.
With regard to commercial registration fees, the ESP includes reducing the fee for companies registered in accordance with the Foreign Capital Investment Law, as these are treated like companies owned by Omani citizens when investing in the economic diversification sectors specified in the Tenth Five-Year Plan.
Amendments have been made to a number of laws, such as the Foreign Capital Investment Law. It will help provide an attractive investment environment for investors, and create appropriate conditions in view of the competition in the world by granting incentives, privileges and guarantees.
According to the minister, foreign investment companies will be able to start their work immediately after their establishment and provided with three licences to bring in expatriate manpower, in accordance with the rules of the commercial registration. Additionally, foreign investors will be granted residency in accordance with the rules to be announced by the concerned authorities.
MoCIIP will sign a service agreement for all strategic investment projects of more than RO1mn, which will define the rights and duties of the parties, including fees and required Omanisation rates. This will be determined during the investment period to give investors reassurances about their investments. This is important for sustainability for strategic companies, continuity of their projects in the sultanate, and their expansion in a way which enables their continuous support to the Omani economy.
Yousef stressed that the ministry realised that these strategic projects depend on feasibility studies and financial models in the initial stages that take into account service fees and operational costs. Therefore, the stability of these fees is necessary for their sustainability. This is important for strategic investors – current and potential future investors.
Restructuring of fees
Yousef pointed out that the concerned authorities associated with the Invest Easy portal are working in an integrated manner according to the directives of the Council of Ministers to restructure the municipal fees related to licences for commercial activities.
It will merge some of the fees and waive unnecessary ones to make procedures easy and swift to attract investments to the sultanate.
The government of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik pays extraordinary attention to Omani exports because of their importance in expanding Omani industries.
As part of its support to Omani exports, the plan also comprises a financing programme prepared with the help of Oman Development Bank to boost Omani exports and services. This will be done in cooperation with the Omani Export Credit Guarantee Agency.
Small and medium enterprises are given special attention in the plan, based on the concern shown by His Majesty the Sultan for entrepreneurs of the sultanate.