Oman - A pat for the private sector

MENAFN - Times of Oman - 14/09/2009

(MENAFN - Times of Oman) Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, the commerce and

industry minister, said here yesterday that the Omani private sector was

playing an important role in implementing a number of key government

projects as well managing and developing a number of vital utilities in

the Sultanate in partnership with the government.

He also urged the private sector to take advantage of the incentives and

facilities provided by the government at the various industrial estates.

At the beginning of the sixth night organised by the OCCI late on

Saturday, the minister also dwelt upon the future vision for the Omani

economy -- diversifying sources of national income, developing private

sector and human resources, as well as a number of areas in the Sultanate.

In order to fulfil such aims, the government has developed a number of

five-year development plans and allocated the required budget for the

projects that were initiated in 1995. The government also set up the

Salalah container terminal in 1997 and the Sohar industrial port.

New projects

Work is underway at the Duqm port project in Al Wusta region and the

Sultan Qaboos Port is getting a makeover, he added.

There is at present a partnership in the Sultanate between the

government and the private sector to manage and develop ports. By this

month end, the government will sign a loan facility agreement worth RO80

million with local banks to finance the construction of two docks for

Vale Company's steel project at Sohar industrial port. There is also a

study to construct more docks for other projects at the port in the

coming days, the minister


Maqbool bin Ali Sultan said as of today, the industrial estates parallel

to Sohar industrial port, houses 17 projects, with investment costs of

more than RO4.5 billion. Work is also underway to develop the free zone

at the port to attract local and foreign investments, he added.

Maqbool called upon the Omani private sector to take advantage of the

incentives and facilities being provided by the government at the

Salalah and Al Mazyonah free zones. He also said that negotiation was

ongoing with a Gulf company to set up residential and housing complex

and service area at Al Mazyonah free zone at a cost of RO100 million.

The minister also pointed out that about 700 industrial projects worth

RO3 billion have been housed in the industrial estates in the Sultanate.

More locations have been identified and allocated for setting up new

industrial estates in the wilayats of Ibri and Sumayl. Expansions are

also underway in a number of industrial estates. About 3.5 million

square metres have been sanctioned to expand Rusayl industrial estate,

he added. The minister also said many local and foreign investors were

evincing great interest in Knowledge Oman Muscat (KOM), encouraging the

government to build a fourth building to meet the growing demand for

setting up knowledge-based projects in it. A study is being undertaken

to set up another building there in cooperation with the private sector,

he added.

Airport, rail projects

Maqbool also pointed to the airport projects underway in the Sultanate,

as well as the railway line that will connect the wilayats of Sohar,

Salalah and the UAE. He also said that road projects such as the coastal

road when completed would help Omani private sector to invest in

industrial areas in different parts of the Sultanate.

The minister said despite the global financial crisis and the low oil

prices, the Omani government was forging ahead by implementing its

infrastructure projects.

He said the Omani Centre for Investment Promotion and Exports

Development (Ociped) had prepared the Sultanate's strategy for

investment promotion which specified 10 sectors in the industry and

services fields. A study has identified 26 countries, which were

interested in investing in these sectors.

The minister said a number of organisations had undertaken studies on

the investment potentials in a number of regions in the Sultanate.

Examples were the studies undertaken by the Public Authority for

Electricity and Water and the Sohar Port Company.

As for food security, Maqbool said the GCC countries had decided to buy

land in a number of countries, cultivate them and export the products back.

Food security

The Sultanate has set up a committee chaired by the commerce and

industry minister to study the food security issue. The committee has

decided to undertake a number of studies and appoint a specialist

company to prepare the Sultanate's national strategy for food security.

The Sultanate has requested Unctad to undertake a consultancy study

regarding the feasibility of agricultural investment outside the Sultanate.

The study is expected to be completed by next month. There is also

another consultancy study to set up a public holding company for

investment in agriculture, fisheries, livestock and food processing

fields, he concluded.

The meeting was attended by Khalil bin Abdullah Al Khonji, OCCI chairman

and executive president of the Public Authority for Stores and Food

Reserve, CEOs of Ociped, PEIE and the deputy chairman of Sohar Port.
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