There could be a substantial drop in the number of Omanis hired by the construction sector this year, as a new law proposed by the Oman Society of Contractors (OSC) is pressing for the Omanisation quota to be slashed to 10 per cent.
The proposal, which was presented at the annual meeting of the society on Monday [January 9], aims to bring down the quota by 20 per cent to relax the “stringent labour laws”, but is yet to be approved by the Government.
Shahswar al Balushi, the CEO of OSC, was quoted as saying: “The 2017 Budget shows expenditure for the construction sector at RO1.2 billion, a majority of which will be used to pay 2016 payments and dues, leaving very less for new projects.
“This year will remain hard for the sector and therefore we need to help the construction industry by relaxing the laws,” he added, before highlighting that the Omanisation rate in the sector lies at seven per cent, far below the Government allowed standards.
The proposal also mentions a gradual rise in Omanisation from 10 per cent this year to 15 per cent in 2020.
According to the CEO, “even at 10 per cent, we will be doing much better than now. This law will bring true Omanisation and it is in process to get approved.”
Meanwhile, OSC officials have noted that various construction companies have been outsourcing official work like “bill of quantities” and designs in an effort to cut down on expenses.
Elsewhere, Tawfiq Al Lawati, a Majlis Al Shura member and Tanfeedh participant, has criticised bosses for not stepping up to the recruitment mark in the past five years, and branded the act as “unfair and unacceptable”.
In an interview with the Times of Oman, al Lawati was quoted as saying: “During the last five years, around 650,000 jobs were created in the private sector in Oman. However, only 16,000 Omanis got recruited. This means that around 3,000 Omanis were
only recruited by private sector [per year].
“Private sector should fulfil its responsibility. Yet it has not done enough. They should be more responsible. There is no space for jobs in the Government sector.”
However, Dr Hamad al Dhahab, the chairman of the OSC, said: “There is nothing proposed on capping expat workers. The point is there is not a lot of work so expats leaving is imminent.
“It’s even hard for Omanis to find work. The economic situation doesn’t allow companies to keep staff and pay them when they aren’t required.”