Muscat: Construction companies in Oman have reacted in different ways to the latest legislation as per which building firms must be managed by a citizen and not an expatriate.
Some in the industry have welcomed the move, supporting the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, while others fear that it could threaten the future of their companies.
Construction companies must hire Omanis as managers
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry said in a recent circular that construction companies must hire Omanis as managers, not expatriates. In the circular, Dr Ali bin Masoud Al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, said that the hired managers must be registered with the Public Authority for Social Insurance (PASI).
"The companies must hire an Omani manager when the owners of the company are busy working somewhere else," the directive said.
However, when a company is run by a citizen, who is registered as such with the PASI, then it is not mandatory to hire another Omani boss. The companies have been served a deadline of two years to implement this order. The regulations also bar companies from carrying out construction activity, if they don't have the necessary permission.
Hussien Al Rahbi, working in a construction company, was happy with the decision. "I feel that the decision gives an opportunity to the Omanis to run for high positions in private sector companies," said Al Rahbi.
He hoped that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry's initiative would be mirrored by all industries, not only construction companies.
"I worked in a construction company for the last seven years, but could not rise to a senior position," said Al Rahbi. He added that the decision opens the way for local people to develop in the sectors in which they have jobs.
Rashid Khalfan, owner of a construction company, did not welcome the decision. Rashid felt that the decision is the first step to force him and others to shut down their construction companies.
"I can't hire an Omani for a manager's post as a junior staffer's salary starts from OMR325," said Rashid.
"Paying a big salary to an Omani manager is almost impossible," said Rashid.
Salim Al Jalloni, owner of another construction company, said that many Omanis are moving from one job to another especially after the standardization in the salaries of those working in the civil services. He explained that he can't depend on Omanis handling such an important post in the company.
"Some of the Omanis work in the private sector for a while until they get a chance to be posted in one of the governmental institutions," said Salim.
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