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Minimum wage in private sector for Omanis raised

Cabinet also outlines steps to limit expatriate workforce to 33% of population

Gulf News

Muscat: Oman has announced a decision to increase the minimum wage for nationals employed in the private sector to 325 Omani riyals (Dh3,090) with effect from July 1.

The council of ministers, in a statement released through Oman News Agency, said that the decision to raise the minimum wage for nationals in the private sector was taken based on a recommendation by a joint committee comprising government representatives, businessmen, as well as Khaleel Bin Abdullah Bin Mohammad Al Khonji, chairman of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The cabinet also identified measures to limit the expatriate ratio in the total population to 33 per cent.

“Historically, the registered labour force has not increased more than 30 per cent — therefore the decision to limit the expatriate population to 33 per cent of the total population may not impact the labour market much,” an analyst and blogger told Gulf News with a request not to use his name.

The government is not willing to restrict labour quotas and thus the proposal to limit expatriate numbers as a percentage of the total population of the country, the analyst said. He added that the increase in the expatriate workforce was the highest in 2011 as government spending had increased the aggregate demand for labour.

The analyst said it would be interesting to see how the government would implement the new measures to limit the expatriate workforce and raise minimum wages in the private sector. “Rhetoric aside, we need to see how they implement the new measures as they also fear inflation,” he added.

During its meeting, the council of ministers held the view that the environment is now conducive for promising Omani youth to participate in the nation-building process through entrepreneurship and utilisation of available investment opportunities.

The cabinet also highlighted the need to revise the Foreign Investment Law to plug gaps that they believe are being exploited to attract expatriates. It has instructed relevant authorities to give due consideration to clearances granted to recruit foreign manpower in various fields so as to help regulate the labour market.

The ministerial council also sought to revise the procedures involved in granting commercial registrations.

Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed, during his interactions with citizens recently, had spoken about the “proxy trade” and its harmful impact on the national economy. The government has taken a cue and is seeking new mechanisms to weed out such operators. It has also asked the Supreme Council for Planning to prepare a clear plan on existing and future projects with job-generation potential for citizens and define a time-frame for such initiatives.