His Majesty Sultan Qaboos in his recent addresses to the nation has been emphasising the importance of private sector’s participation in government projects to Oman’s growth. Accordingly, the Oman government has shown greater attention to investment spending in the country in this budget year. The investment spending for 2019 is estimated at OMR3.7bn, including OMR1.2bn allocated for infrastructure projects, which are overseen by various government units; and an amount of OMR2.5bn to be utilised by some state-owned-enterprises (SOEs) for the implementation of projects in industrial and services sectors.

The Oman Government is seeking to address the 2019 estimated budget deficit of OMR 2.9bn through outsourcing of some government services and enhancing public-private partnership (PPP) among other measures. The Tanfeedh committee and the Supreme Council of Planning did recommend privatisation in key areas that affect the life and wellbeing of the people, affordable housing, public schools and hospitals. As the privatisation projects can be seen taking off, the Oman government has shown its swiftness in fastening the privatisation policies with the in- country value requirements which shall co-exist under the regulation of newly established Public Authority for PPP.

The Key highlights of the Royal Decrees that have been issued with regard to establishing the Public Authority, Privatisation (up to 100%), and enabling PPP are:

Public Authority for Privatisation and Partnership:

The responsibility that was once vested in the hands of sub- committee of the council of ministers is now handed on to the new Public Authority that shall act as an independent body to implement the privatisation projects, and PPP contracts approved by the council of ministers and carry out the tasks of partnerships for development that was so far looked after by OAPFD. Data Collection and Management Policy: The Public Authority shall frame policies on collection and management of data generated within its domain. 

Free from Tender Law:

While the privatisation of projects will continue to require council of ministers’ approval, the Authority is bestowed with necessary freedom in executing its function. There is room for open negotiations, marketing and all powers and choices associated with administrative functions that can make the identified privatisation projects, a reality with competent private investors. That said the power to act independently comes with accountability and transparency.

Omani Employees Transfer:

The Omani employee rights are protected in terms of designations and compensation and end of service benefits and no job loss can happen before completion of five years after transfer. As we say, watch this space for further updates on the executive regulations when it will be issued by the Public Authority for PPP.