Implementation Support and Follow up Unit organizes the Independent Advisory Review (IAR) with the participation of 31 local & international experts

Implementation Support and Follow up Unit organizes the Independent Advisory Review (IAR) with the participation of 31 local & international experts

Date: 17/02/2020

ISFU organized IAR with the participation of 31 local & international experts last week. The event took place in Al Wahat club from 9-13 February. The updates of the initiatives & projects of nine sectors were presented during the sessions. It is considered a participatory platform with local and international experts to discuss the performance of initiatives and projects, obtain an independent and subjective assessment and discuss the main challenges that face the economic sectors. The results of the sessions will be enclosed in the annual report, which will be published in the second quarter of the year. The teams will refer to these recommendations continuously. Undersecretaries of a number of related entities, directors general, and a number of specialists joined the event.

In the framework of promoting the government efforts towards enhancing the economic diversification, which ISFU is taking care through accelerating the implementation of the initiatives & projects in the economic sectors, ISFU ensures the accurateness of the key performance indicators through having the feedback of a neutral & independent party. In addition to that, ISFU is keen to benefit from the international expertise through getting their feedback in a very clear and transparent way. Through this process, ISFU tries to resolve the challenges that face the progress of processes in the sectors. It will also ensures gaining a clearer vision for its plans in all the sectors implemented and followed up.

In the beginning of each session, ISFU team presented ISFU’s objectives and vision, as well as the mechanism of assessment and follow-up in the framework of cooperation between ISFU and the sectors. Their excellences undersecretaries of the related ministries and sectors’ officials presented the work progress in all initiatives and projects that fall within their competence. They showed the sector’s dashboard and touched upon the challenges that hinder the implementation process to be discussed in the session with transparency and clarity. The process gives the experts group a detailed vision through which they can assess the work progress accurately in each initiative and project.

During the first day of the sessions, the initiatives and projects of tourism and energy were presented. During 2019, the achievements in these two sectors reached 85% & 61% respectively. Moreover, energy initiatives have witnessed a significant progress. 22 initiative and project were presented to the panelist. One of these projects was Dhofar wind that scored 100% and it was commercially operated recently. The National Environmental Policy for the Energy Sector (NEPES) and Appliance Standards Project for air conditioners were also completed. For other projects such as north-south interconnector solar 2022, the work is still ongoing.

With respect to tourism sector, H.E Maythaa Al Mahrooqi, Undersecretary of Ministry of Tourism (MOT), presented the sector’s initiatives and projects, which scored 61% during 2019. Sixteen initiative and project falls under MOT jurisdictions. These projects will develop and enhance the sector and create the investment environment. H.E also presented the ministry’s plans in the current year. These plans will focus on implementing Oman Tourism Strategy 2040. Finally, the challenges were presented too.

In the second day of sessions, labour and logistics sectors presented initiatives and projects, which progressed well during 2019. H.E Hamad Al Amri, undersecretary of Ministry of Manpower (MOMP) for Labour Affairs, presented the sector’s initiatives and projects, which achieved 88%. The National Leadership Development Program “Eitimad” and unlock part-time and temporary work and enable flexible movement of labour initiatives witnessed significant progress through registering 5000 work contracts, in addition to increase private sector employment attractiveness for omanis

In the logistics session, Oman Global Logistics Group ( ASYAD) CEO, Abdulrahman Al Hatmi, presented 21 initiative and project in the logistics sector which scored 78%. In addition, Central Service Corridor project in Salalah port has achieved 97% with 4.6 Km and 23.4 M OMR investment. 22% of goods were released before the arrival to Sohar port compared to 14% in 2018. Inspection time in Sohar port was also reduced from 12 to 5 days, which contributed to save 280 million OMR per year. Furthermore, international land transport agreement was signed. This agreement will contribute in facilitating and securing the international trade transport and land transport, which will last for 60 years through permitting vehicles cleared by customs and shipping containers to pass boarders without inspection.

During the third day of sessions, Business Environment sector presented 2019 initiatives and projects. This sector is responsible for following up and supporting the implementation of initiatives and projects related to enhancing the commercial and investment environment in the Sultanate. The overall achievement in this sector was 77%. Lean project scored 97%, while “invest easy” scored 66% out of the targeted percentage. During the previous year, a number of economic laws were issued such as Foreign Capital investment, bankruptcy law, establishing public authority for privatization and partnership law, which was a key driver for the sector, launching the first real estate investment fund, and Oman Credit and Financial Information Centre “Mala’a”.

In the fourth day, Fisheries and ICT sectors presented their initiatives and projects for the panelists. H.E Dr.Saud Al Habsi, Undersecretary of Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture for fisheries, presented 16 initiative and project, which scored an overall achievement of 72% in 2019. H.E showcased the achievements and challenges in the sector. The sector work on many initiatives such as establishing the commercial fishing fleets for pelagic fishing, modern boats programme, recirculating aquaculture system, shrimp farming, and establishing labs to inspect fish products and foodstuffs. Given the fact that fisheries sector is considered one of the promising sectors that support the national economy, the Sultanate is working on aquaculture being a key pillar to diversify economy. Furthermore, the economic and technical studies of aquaculture qualifies the Sultanate to be a leading country in the region in this field. It is hoped that aquaculture to 200000 ton in 2040 with 15% increase annually.

With respect to ICT sector, Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi, representative of Ministry of Technology and Communication (MTC), presented 28 initiatives and projects in the sector with 72% achievement. Since the end of the lab, the sector is aspiring to maximize its contribution to GDP with 1.1 billion OMR by 2040 being one of the supporting sectors for the economic transformation and development in the Sultanate. In addition, Dr. Al Ruzaiqi presented the progress made in some initiatives and projects such as designing on job programme for professional training for ICT graduates, attracting foreign investments, offering financial and non- financial incentives to attract high value ICT activities to the Sultanate, establishing a vital industry for cybersecurity, promote Oman as the region’s hub for disaster recovery services. Recently, the Sultanate scored the second place in the middle east and the 16th place internationally in the readiness of cybersecurity in the global cybersecurity indicator issued from the International Telecommunication Union.

In the fifth day of sessions, manufacturing and mining sectors presented to the panelists the achievements and challenges faced in the sectors. H.E Ahmed Al Dheeb, undersecretary of Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) presented 23 initiatives and projects, which achieved 79% during the year. Some of the projects witnessed a substantial progress such as Mazoon diary and sebacic acid production plant the investment achieved reached 3.5 billion OMR till the end of the third quarter of 2019 within a total expected investment of 5.4 billion OMR in the end of the year. Moreover, 1799 jobs were offered with 53% ominization. H.E Al Dheeb touched upon the challenges that faced some initiatives and projects during the implementation phase. MOCI, in collaboration with the related entities, worked on finding the suitable solutions to accelerate obtaining the required approvals and licenses from the governmental entities to expedite the implementation phases in a number of projects.

With regard to mining sector, H.E Hilal Al Busaidi, CEO of Public Authority of Mining (PAM) presented 16 initiatives and projects which achieved 70%. In addition, he also touched upon the facilitations that PAM offers through enhancing the governmental services and simplify the required governmental processes to provide services through the internet and enable e-services. PAM has also identified new mineral blocks, which will be released foe exploration through bidding. Furthermore, PAM has obtained a license for mining areas and followed an organized and transparent way mechanism to grant investors the required licenses to invest in mining area. H.E indicated that the sector has unexploited resources from minerals up to 97% such as gypsum, chrome, copper, limestone, dolomite and marble. He also highlighted the fact that the Sultanate strategic location helps the Sultanate to reach the regional markets.

The experts provided a summary of their feedback and recommendations. They reached to these highlights based upon the detailed discussion, which took place at the beginning of each day.

ISFU will include the results of the sessions in the annual report, which will be issued in the second quarter of the year.