Small-to-medium enterprise (SME) owners in Oman are once again able to employ expat workers after the Ministry of Manpower this week announced the lifting of the lifting of the employment ban.
Talib al Dhabbari, head of the media department at the Ministry of Manpower, said the decision only covers companies owned by Omanis who are not working for the government or in large private sector companies. This decision is for small to medium businesses that are run by their owners.
“However, the company must be registered with Public Authority for Development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises [PADSME] and insured with Public Authority for Social Insurance [PASI], to get benefits of the decision,” Mr al Dhabbari told local media.
Construction companies look set to benefit the most from the recent decision to repeal the ban and the move has been widely welcomed by the business sector in Oman.
Speaking to a local newspaper, Adbul Gafoor, general manager of a construction company said: “Our company falls under small-and-medium enterprises. We were having a tough time during the last year. It was quite difficult for us to complete the projects in time. Now, we hope things will change. We were lacking skilled employees at mid and senior levels.”
The ban was initially implemented for six months in November 2013 before being extended in May this year after it was discovered that increasing numbers of SME owners were allowing their businesses to be managed by expatriates.
One member of the Lower House of the Council of Oman believes that the Ministry of Manpower needs to conduct an in-depth study of the issue in order to produce a practical solution that benefits both the economy and Omani workers.
“We cannot have a single solution for all issues related to hiring. It is not possible at all. Expansion of the economy is a must for the growth of the country […] we should not close the doors in the face of expatriate workers, especially in some sectors, but at the same time, balance should be maintained when it comes to hiring Omani workers also,” the unnamed council member was quoted as saying.