HM The Sultan Chairs Council of Ministers Meeting
HM The Sultan Chairs Council of Ministers Meeting

HM The Sultan Chairs Council of Ministers Meeting

Muscat, 31 May (ONA) --- His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik presided over a meeting of the Council of Ministers at Al Baraka Palace today.

At the outset of the meeting, His Majesty the Sultan gave thanks and praise to the Almighty Allah for the bounties of security, stability and progress with which He endowed Oman. He prayed to the Almighty to eternalize these bounties and grant all health, welfare and success in what they aspire for.

Then, His Majesty the Sultan reviewed local, regional and international conditions.

On the domestic front, His Majesty the Sultan spoke about the ongoing government initiatives aimed at achieving rapid economic growth and finalising a financial and investment comprehensive system.

In this context, His Majesty the Sultan gave directives to establish an investment fund, to be named “Oman Future Fund”, that will have a capital of RO 2 billion.

The fund is aimed at enhancing economic activity and encouraging the private sector to enter into partnerships or finance feasible investment projects in the sectors of economic diversification targeted by Oman Vision 2040.

His Majesty gave directives to allocate part of the fund's capital to stimulate bold investment in SMEs and startups registered at the Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises Development.

Speaking about the inauguration of the “Sultan Haitham City” in the Wilayat of A’Seeb, His Majesty the Sultan affirmed that the inception of the project stems from a trend to set up modern cities with international planning standards, integrated and interconnected facilities, and equipped with all services that meet the needs of residents. The city seeks to ensure the stability of families and spearhead model development in building sustainable cities, His Majesty the Sultan affirmed.

Acting from its keenness on providing proper health cover and managing it in modern ways, the Council of Ministers approved the establishment of a National Centre for Women and Children's Health at Sultan Haitham City.

In pursuance of the attention accorded by His Majesty to national competencies’ development, the Council of Ministers approved the consolidation of the 2023-2027 External Scholarships Programme by introducing a scheme for grooming graduates who are capable of playing leading roles in various economic sectors. The candidates will be dispatched to major in important future specializations at top international universities.

The scheme provides for 150 such scholarships over a period of five years, starting from this year (2023) to the tune of RO 36 million.

To encourage private higher education institutions to play a greater role in boosting the academic educational process, the Council of Ministers decided that private higher education institutions which were given some lands (lease-based) shall get ownership of those lands, while at the same time exempting them from prescribed fees. This applies to the institutions that meet the terms and conditions set for private higher education establishments.

To mitigate the cost of high electricity bills for citizens, particularly low-income segments, during the summer season, His Majesty the Sultan gave directives to maintain a 15% discount on the total sum of the electricity bill for all residential units’ subscribers during summer months from May to August 2023.

In the same context, the Council of Ministers approved an increase in financial allocations within the housing assistance programme at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning. The hike stands at RO 26.4 million for the remaining years of the 10th Five Year Plan. The sum is allocated to construct housing units for the people from some distant villages or shift them from their impacted areas of residence to safer places or to provide the areas with some public services or to establish service projects in them.

The Council of Ministers commended the efforts made by the authorities concerned in cooperation with farmers in various governorates to encourage them to grow improved varieties of Omani wheat. The Council also approved a plan to support local wheat production by allocating RO 5 million until the year 2027, in addition to usufruct lands in some governorates for wheat cultivation.

With the aim of operating more direct flights to and from Salalah Airport at competitive prices during the Khareef season, His Majesty the Sultan gave directives to the concerned authorities to provide direct subsidies in fuel prices at Salalah Airport on a par with fuel prices at Muscat International Airport.

The Council of Ministers listened to a briefing about the progress made in initiatives of the National Employment Programme and the efforts made by the authorities concerned to improve economic growth in general and to develop economic sectors. Accordingly, His Majesty the Sultan gave directives to extend the disbursement of benefits from the Job Security System, for citizens whose services were terminated at private sector establishments, until December 2023.

The Council of Ministers agreed to exempt small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from some fees prescribed by the Tender Board. This was made in pursuance of the support accorded to the SME sector, being a basic pillar in the national economy and is hoped to have a major role in contributing to the gross domestic product and employment of Omani citizens.

His Majesty the Sultan also spoke about regional and international affairs. He reviewed bilateral relations of the Sultanate of Oman with a number of Arab and foreign countries. He underlined Oman’s continuing to espouse its permanent positive neutrality, as well as the country’s persistent endeavours to achieve security and stability for the region and to extend bridges of cooperation with all countries.

At the end of the meeting, His Majesty the Sultan touched on various aspects of concern to the country and the citizens. He wished citizens continued success in all that realizes the good of the nation.