By: Hasan Kamoonpuri
MUSCAT: The Sultanate’s economy is firmly in the path of more diversification at this challenging times when oil prices have fallen drastically, Dr Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, said here yesterday.
Speaking at the launch of annual book ‘The Business Year: Oman 2015’, the minister said according to the just announced statistics the economy has registered a 5.2 per cent GDP growth rate for the third quarter of 2014 over the same period of 2013. Non-oil activities grew in the first nine months of 2014 at 8.2 per cent; that is RO 1 billion more than the same period of 2013.
Dr Sunaidy said: “Most of the projects such as roads, ports, airports, the one-stop-shop for business registration, e-visa and e-customs will be completed by the end of 2015 including the site preparations of the South Batinah Logistics through the state-owned company already under formation.
Saying that the preparation for the Ninth Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), the last plan of Vision 2020, is proceeding expeditiously, Dr Sunaidy affirmed that the country will be able to achieve much of its desired economic growth by stimulating private sector investments, both local and international, in areas of manufacturing, construction, finance, tourism and real estate development.
Over the next five years, Port of Duqm and Dry Dock will be able to attract more foreign investment in areas related to petrochemicals and engineering. Sohar Port and Free Zone will position themselves as food-processing and warehousing cluster and “we will see more downstream industries”.
Meanwhile, Salalah Port and Free Zone is already becoming home to famous plastics, chemicals and food export-oriented industries.
Dr Sunaidy said the real estate development will witness a paradigm shift in the very near future.
The plan is to move into more sustainable and integrated housing communities. Some initiatives by the private sector, although limited, have already paved the way for future joint ventures and private-public partnerships.
As for the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the newly introduced sector-specific regulations and incentives will aid in creating a more enabling environment for SMEs in the Sultanate.
The minister was referring to the recent easing of norms for SMEs in which new businesses will be exempted from Omanisation under certain conditions.
SOURCE: OMAN DAILY OBSERVER