Muscat: The direct involvement of Omanis at managerial level would ensure quality of work, make companies responsible and create more job opportunities, says Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Masoud Al Sunaidy.
Commenting on the recent decision that construction companies must hire Omanis as managers, the minister said that currently many construction companies are owned or co-owned by Omanis but "they remain silent investors and do not associate themselves with the management of the companies."
"In order to be able to take responsibility for the quality of work as well as to create proper opportunities for Omanis, nationals should be involved at management level. The Omani does not have to be the exclusive manager but has to be one of the managers of the company," Al Sunaidy told the Times of Oman in an interview.
In some cases, the owner of a company has no relationship with the company and does not even report to it, he said. "How could you expect a company which affects the lives of people to address the issue of quality without there being a responsible person for that?"
According to him, such a decision would not only ensure quality but will also help increase the number of Omanis working in the construction sector.
The construction sector is the biggest employer of people and is the fastest growing sector in Oman. It will continue to be so, but unfortunately hundreds of construction companies do not have a single Omani working for them, he said.
Al Sunaidy added, "If you look around the world, you will see how a contracting company is established. It is established by using local interest and international expertise. Here you do not have the local interest represented in the management. It will be a quality assurance issue and will also be a job creator."
Commenting on the proposed anti-monopoly law, the minister said, "Since it is a GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) law, so it is going to be part of the GCC set of laws and has been agreed at the level of the GCC. Now it is in the process of being issued as a national law in Oman and the procedure is taking its normal course."
"We are very hopeful that Oman will be able to issue the anti-monopoly law before the end of the year, which is based on the GCC draft," Al Sunaidy added.
Asked how it will contribute towards regulating the market, he said, "Now, we are under pressure from some products that are coming to the market and the prices set for them are below their original market prices.
"With the help of this law, we will be able to deal with such a situation at Oman's level and also once the entire GCC finalises the law, as a group they can act together in coordination to deal with anyone (exporter) who uses our markets as a dumping ground for their products."
'Monopoly is misunderstood'
He also explained that when the new law is introduced, every company will be required to give an assessment of its market position, which in some areas may have been overstated.
On how serious the issue of monopoly is, the minister said that sometimes the word 'monopoly' is misunderstood.
"I think 'dominance' or 'market concentration' are better words to use," he said, adding that there are a few areas where there is dominance. Commenting on the decision that authorises the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP) to control the prices of only 23 items, Al Sunaidy said that it will help make the market more competitive.
It has been delayed until the consumer protection law, the commercial agencies law and the competition and anti-monopoly laws are in place, he said.
According to the minister, after the implementation of the decision, people will have competing products with less dominance.
"Majlis Al Dawla has already passed the percentage of 35 per cent. So the dominance that will be allowed without investigation will be 35 per cent. Once you exceed 35 per cent then you will be checked and accordingly a decision to interfere or not interfere will be taken. And it will be of course under the jurisdiction of the Public Authority for Consumer Protection," Al Sunaidy noted.
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