Y Magazine

Two-year visa ban backed by Ministry

Expatriates leaving their jobs without a No Objection Certificate may continue to have to wait for a period of two-years before they can enter the country, after Oman’s Minister of Manpower, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Bakri, called for the law to remain in place.

Two Shura members also called on the Minister to retain the controversial visa rule during a council session this week.

“We urge the Ministry to keep the two-year visa ban rule to protect Omani business owners of SMEs,” Shura member Mohammed Al Badi was quoted as saying by local media.

In response, the Minister of Manpower, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Bakri, said he supported this opinion, but also stated that it was the police and other authorities who were directing the plans.

In an interview with local daily Times of Oman, trade unionist Mohammed Farji was quoted as saying: “This law keeps a worker bonded to the company. If a worker has completed his job contract with a company, he should be allowed to join a new company without any hassles.”

Meanwhile, Shura members also urged companies to stop employing locals “just to meet the minimum legal requirement of Omanisation”.

The Minister of Manpower also asked business owners to stop “visual Omanisation” and urged them to give “real opportunities to nationals to compete in the market” before questioning the suggestion of a Shura member to lift Omanisation requirements in some companies, which could be affected by the rule.

“There are 163,000 SMEs in the country which employ only 8,000 Omanis compared to 780,000 expatriates. Do you want the number of expat workers to reach two million?” asked Al Bakri.

He also asserted that big business projects coming under Tanfeedh will open job opportunities for Omani nationals, and that Omanis will soon be able to find managerial posts thanks to the education system’s newest graduates.

Oman is currently in the process of reforming its Labour Law as the country tackles difficult economic conditions, while the Government is expected to introduce several austerity measures this year to reduce the deficit, which is forecast at RO3 billion. More recently, there have been demands for the law to be changed after complaints that companies were abusing the NOC system surfaced in the media.