Muscat: The announcement by the Ministry of Manpower about extending a ban on new visas has elicited a mixed reaction from people.
The ministry has extended the ban on granting new visas to expatriate carpenters, metallurgy workers, blacksmiths and brick kiln workers, for another six months.
'Visa ban to regulate jobs'
The decision comes into effect from July 1, 2014, according to Ministerial Decision 122/2014.
As per this Ministerial Decision, the freeze will apply only to new visas and not renewals. The decision also allows companies to obtain a replacement visa for any worker who has left the Sultanate. The decision will not affect companies registered as 'excellent' or those of international grade, and those implementing government projects, the ministry said.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) registered with the Public Authority for the Development of SMEs and with the Public Authority for Social Insurance will also be exempted.
The initial six-month ban implemented through Ministerial Decision 617/2013 came into force on January 1.
While some people feel that the move will regulate the job market, others think this would limit the options of expatriates in the Sultanate.
Rashid Khalfan, owner of a construction company said, "The idea is good but it will affect the business. We are terribly short staffed and are looking for people. But now I can't hire them for the next six months."
Hueesin Al Rahbi, managing director of a firm, said, "The law will play a positive role in organising the labour market in the Sultanate as the number of expatriate workforce nearly reached half the number of citizens and the law might control the number of expatriates joining the Omani labour market every year."
Khalfan Al Musalamy, owner of a brick kiln factory, said that as it is, finding a worker is tough because of the hard work involved in the factories. "Now with the ban, things have become more difficult," he opined.
Reacting to this move aimed at regulating the job market, Vijay Handa, general manager, Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve & Masira Island Resort, said it would help in flushing out the illegals in Oman. "I think the government will flush out the illegals and then start issuing new visas in most of the sectors," he said.