Earlier today, some announcements were made by the Council of Ministers after their latest meeting. There are some quite significant changes announced, the news statement is here on ONA, but I'm duplicating it here for the record, I've bolded the really juicy parts:
Council of Ministers / Statement
Muscat, Feb 2 (ONA)--- During its meeting that was held today, the Council of Ministers studied a number important economic and social topics and came out with a number of decisions that serve the needs of this stage namely:-
At the beginning, the Council of Ministers hailed the fruitful and constructive outcomes of the Royal meet-the-people-tour of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said in Saih Al Shamikhat in the Wilayat of Bahla in the Governorate of A'Dakhiliyah and His Majesty's meeting with sheikhs and dignitaries of the Governorates of Al Wusta and A'Dakhiliyah at the Royal Camp, as well as the wise decisions taken to enhance the comprehensive development being witnessed by the Sultanate, which achieves aspirations of the Omani youths towards a better future.
The Council of Ministers affirmed that the environment has become conducive and encouraging for the promising Omani youths to effectively take part in building their nation through entrepreneurship and utilization of the available investment opportunities. The Council of Ministers also stressed the importance of cooperation by all respective departments in the State to simplify and facilitate the transactions and measures related to implementing the approved decisions, so that they are properly implemented.
As for the increase in the number of expatriate manpower, the Council took executive decisions that embody the Royal Directives in relation to striking a balance between expatriate manpower and the gross population in the Sultanate, so that it does not exceed (33%) in the specified term for this. In this regard, the Council of Ministers identified a number of mechanisms, the most important of which are as follows:
- Revising the Foreign Investment Law to bridge the gaps that are being exploited to attract expatriates.
- Considering the expatriate clearances granted to recruit foreign manpower at all specialties to evaluate and regularize the labour market.
- Revising the measures taken to grant commercial registrations.
- Approving new mechanisms to limit the concealed trade phenomenon.
- Delegating the Supreme Council for Planning with the task of preparing a clear plan on the existing and future job-generating projects for the citizens and defining the time-frame for the same.
- Other procedures that may achieve the prospective objective.
Due to the importance of limiting the negative effects of this issue on the State's economic, social and security policies, the Council of Ministers decided to constitute a work team. This work team comprises the Supreme Council for Planning, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Manpower, the Ministry of Civil Service, the Secretariat General of the Council of Ministers, the Royal Oman Police (ROP), the Tender Board, Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI). The team will raise regular reports on the progress of implementation of the mechanisms that serve this trend.
As for the existing cooperation between the government and the private sector, the Council of Ministers reviewed the outcomes of the joint action team - comprised of the two sides - regarding the proposed mechanisms for a number of aspects that have been highlighted during the meeting that was held at the end of December 2012. The meeting gathered a number of senior businessmen and a number of ministers and officials, as well as OCCI Chairman as these mechanisms have priority in implementation. The outcomes covered employment, social insurance, closing the gap in holidays, matching between outputs of education and training from one hand and the labour market's needs on the other hand, in addition to revising the Labour Law and improving the environment for business and attracting investments.
Guided by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said's Royal Speech at the Council of Oman on enhancing the contribution of the private sector in the march of comprehensive development and encouraging the Omani youths to work at its establishments and stability in its jobs, which specifically requires amending the salary system of this sector especially for junior and middle level's jobs, considering the fact that this is a national duty, the joint work team has discussed increasing the minimum salaries for Omanis working in the private sector. The joint team came with a proposal in this regard. Having discussed the issue, the Council of Ministers decided to approve the proposal that raises the minimum gross salary for an Omani working at the private sector to (RO 325). This applies with effect from July 1st, 2013. The Ministry of Manpower will issue the decision implementing this.
So, in a nutshell:
1. It's going to be harder to be an expatriate working here in Oman, because the clearances will be harder to get.
2. Omani's are getting a bump in their minimum wage from 200 to 325 rials a month.
There are rumours around town that the Government are preparing to withdraw/reduce the subsidy on fuel and electricity... we shall see what happens. Presumably there will be an announcement for people working in the Government sector as well as their pay will probably be increased too.
Exciting times if your an Omani worker. Not so if you are a business owner or an expat.