Muscat: More support should be provided to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Oman, given the fact that they add value to the national economy, Khalifa Said Al Abri, acting chief executive officer of the Public Authority for the SMEs Development said here on Wednesday.
"The SMEs play a significant role in the development of the country and in creating employment opportunities," Al Abri said in his speech at the Oman Economic Forum (OEF).
In all countries, SMEs are the major employers while large companies provide a limited number of jobs, he said, adding that small and medium business units account for about 60 to 70 per cent of employment in general.
He noted that SMEs are facing several challenges to promote their businesses and their problems should be addressed by the relevant authorities.
One of the problems faced by small and medium enterprises is that they cannot get finance from banks easily because they usually do not have the necessary credit background to meet the requirements, Al Abri said.
Another obstacle is that they lack a "clear accounting system" and depend on accounting on a daily basis, he said, adding that the fact that most of the SMEs do not have long-term policies also hinder their development.
The necessary mechanisms should be developed to support SMEs to enter the external market and promote their products and services internationally, the SMEs' official noted.
"Some of them cannot even market their products outside their villages."
Strict regulations that prevent the promotion of SMEs should be relaxed and effective measures should be taken to help these units during the Omanisation process, he added.
According to Al Abri, other problems that SMEs are dealing with include the lack of skilled labour and their inability to offer good salaries which negatively affect their ability to compete with larger companies.
He called for more technical and training support for small and medium units, noting that the Public Authority for SMEs Development is taking many steps to assist the SMEs by providing training for them, developing plans to help them to export their products, helping them set long-term business policies, promoting them in various exhibitions, and securing loans for them.
The authority also holds workshops and seminars and invites owners of businesses and authorities to attend, the official added. He also noted that an entrepreneurship award is being planned and several incubators will also be set up in the near future to support SMEs. Al Abri said that the authority keeps updating its database and so far, it has registered about 2,000 SMEs.