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Covid-19 Supreme Committee Approves Raft of Incentives for Private Sector Firms and Workers

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Muscat, Apr.15 (ONA) – - -The Supreme Committee tasked with handling the developments of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic today approved a set of incentives to support the private sector and its manpower. 

The package was reached after coordination between government and private sector departments concerned through the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

  According to the package, private sector firms and establishments have to maintain the stability of their Omani manpower (workers) and not terminate their services.

The package provides support to private sector establishments and firms and enhances their ability to adjust to the exceptional conditions imposed by coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on the local and global levels.

   According to the package of incentives, private sector establishments and firms have to:

·               Revamp their system of functioning.

·               Use modern technology and apply online work to limit the assembling of workers.

·               Provide enough space between employees at the workplace and manpower residence.

·               Give paid leave with full salary to workers during the period of health isolation and Stay-at-Home period provided a “certificate on the end of quarantine period” be issued by the departments concerned.

·               Non-termination of services of Omani manpower. Affected private sector establishments and firms may offer advanced paid annual leaves for their workers in sectors that have been shut down.

·               Under the current conditions, affected private sector establishments may negotiate to lower the salaries of their workers for a period of three months in return for a reduction of duty hours after the expiry of outstanding days of an employee’s paid leave. If necessary, this system will begin to be applied with effect from May 2020.

·                 For Omani manpower whose salaries are lowered, their bank loans will be postponed, and so shall their financing loans during the salary reduction period. Their loans will be rescheduled and allowed to be paid back without interest or additional fees. Their electricity and water bills will be postponed till the end of June 2020.

·                 Non-Omani manpower: Their respective employees’ annual leave may be advanced and paid in full if they operate in the sectors terminally shut down.

·                 Non-Omani manpower: Expatriate workers of affected private sector establishments and firms can be terminally repatriated to their respective countries, according to the package agreed by the Supreme Committee and establishments and firms of the private sector.

·                 Incentives offered by the Government to private sector establishments and firms also include:

o       Reduction of renewal fees of expatriate workers’ labour cards from its date (today, Apr. 15) to the end of June 2020, from RO301 to RO201.

o       Exemption from fees, waiving of delay fines and extension of expat manpower’s licenses during this period.

o       Approval of preliminary work permits for expat manpower for partial use or temporary use.

o       Possibility of secondment of workers of any private establishment to work in time of emergency for another establishment.

o       Allowing affected private sector establishments to terminate the contracts of their non-Omani workers provided these establishments adhere to the payment of all the dues of the laid-off workers before their terminal departure from the Sultanate.

·                 Ministry of Commerce and Industry offers a set of incentives to the private sector:

o       Continuous exemption from payment of fees for Commercial Register renewal with effect from its date (today, Apr.15) till the end of June 2020 in accordance with certain precautionary measures to be set by the departments concerned.  This applies to private sector establishments and firms providing services to big establishments or to individuals.  The measures also seek to ensure the continued functioning of “committed” factories.

·                 Exemption from renewal fees of licenses and from fines for a period of three months for government departments such as the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, the Ministry of Tourism and the Public Establishment for Consumer Protection.

·                 Government sectors and government companies shall stick to their commitment stated in contracts signed with private sector establishments in the fields of services. 

·                 Flexibility measures to be extended to affected private firms in the period of completion of government projects. Exemption of these firms from delay fines.

·                 Public Authority for Social Insurance to offer incentives to the insured and to postpone monthly subscription fees of March, April and May to be paid in instalments at a later date.

·                 As for the power and water sector:

o       Postponement of electricity and water dues for a period of three months for affected establishments and firms. Affected SMEs are to be permitted to pay in instalments.

o       National Fuel Subsidy Cards to be given to entitled segments of workers in the private sector whose salaries are temporarily lowered till the end of impact of period of closure on their respective business outlets.

This package comes in addition to measures undertaken by Central Bank of Oman on March 18th 2020 to facilitate borrowing for affected segments, including healthcare, private education, and travel and tourism sectors, among other incentives.                 – - - Ends/AB/FM