Sunday, September 24
11:41 PM

Decision to waive fees for private sector hailed


Muscat – The head of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) has praised the decision of the Supreme Committee in charge of dealing with the developments resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic to support private sector institutions and facilitate their recovery through a host of benefits and measures announced last week.

Eng Redha bin Juma al Saleh, chairman, OCCI, said that the exemption orders issued by the Supreme Committee, in addition to urging banks and finance companies to cooperate with affected borrowers, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and reschedule loans without fees, “will contribute to stimulating the economy and developing the private sector”.

“This will ensure the continuity of companies, especially those that are going through a critical stage, helping them to withstand the situation and once more get going,” he said.

The chairman expressed the OCCI’s appreciation for the response of government agencies to the demands of the OCCI and the private sector to provide packages of support and facilities to private sector institutions.

The Supreme Committee, after studying the impact of the pandemic on the private sector establishments, decided to waive fines and fees for a number of businesses. Some of them are:

Waiving fines charged against licences issued by government departments for various businesses included in Annex (1) of the decision, which have expired or are due to expire through the period from June 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021.

Some of them are:

  • Waiving fines charged against renewal of non-Omani labour cards and associated fines for cards which have expired or are due to expire in the period from June 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021.
  • Waiving fines accrued on various establishments and companies due to non-renewal of their commercial registers and licences, provided they do renew the registers and licences during 2021.
  • Allowing employers to renew expired labour permits for workers who are still abroad, while at the same time waiving related fines resulting during the period from June 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021.
  • Absolving SMEs of entrepreneurship card renewal fees charged against all expired commercial activities during 2021.

The committee also took the following decisions valid till December 31, 2021:

  • Granting labour permits in lieu of workers who have already left for all segments and as per the prescribed fees set for each segment.
  • Urging banks and financing firms to cooperate with ‘affected’ borrowers, notably SMEs (holders of Riyada business cards) by re-scheduling loans, without charging fees.
  • Absolving SMEs of registration fees in ‘Isnad’ system affiliated to the Tender Board.
  • Absolving SMEs of land usufruct (development) fees and postponing the repayment of outstanding dues.
  • Postponing the repayment of SMEs’ premiums for holders of Riyada business cards benefiting from the previous Al Raffd Fund financing loans.
  • Waiving rental fees payable by owners of SMEs for the activities indicated in Annex (1) who rent real estate properties owned by government departments and authorities.

ASMED initiative to support SMEs

In a move to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises Development (ASMED) has launched an initiative called Mazaya.

“The initiative aims to provide incentives and facilities to SMEs during the pandemic. The incentives include providing all services needed by owners of SMEs registered with the authority,” an official at ASMED said.
“The initiative targets sectors such as real estate, finance, insurance, travel, tourism, hotels, healthcare, communications, interior design, education, management and others. There are about 22,571 small and medium enterprises that hold ‘Riyada card’ in the various governorates of the sultanate. The authority urges owners of these companies to register in this initiative.”

Talking about ASMED’s efforts, he said, “The authority recently signed an agreement with Al Noman China Wholesale Market to provide 16 outlets inside the market to support SMEs in South Batinah.”

According to the official, the agreement will provide a number of benefits for the owners of SMEs such as rent exemption for a period of four months, 45 per cent reduction in rent, and provision of technical support in the use of equipment imported from China.
On April 4, the authority also launched a new programme called Raqmna – which translates to ‘digitisation’ – in partnership with Google Developer Group. The programme aimed to train 25 SMEs for a period of three months.
“The programme aimed to support and empower SMEs by changing their technology paths, accelerate digital transformation, enhance competitiveness in the sector, and provide high-quality products and services,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the total number of SMEs registered with ASMED at the end of June 2021 stood at 54,726, compared to 44,448 in the same period of 2020, comprising a rise of 23.1 per cent, according to the data released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information.

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