MUSCAT: The Omanisation target in the construction sector could be halved, mainly because not many nationals are keen on joining it. Speaking at the seventh AGM of the Oman Society of Contractors (OSC) on Monday, its CEO said the current target is ‘unrealistic’.

“The current 30 per cent Omanisation requirement in the construction industry is unrealistic,” said Shahswar al Balushi, CEO, OSC.

“The sector employs over 600,000 people and requires a variety of skills and competencies. However, the working environment in the sector is challenging and therefore, many Omanis are not attracted to it. This has affected the ability of the sector to achieve the Omanisation target set by the Ministry of Manpower (MoM).”

He said that Omanisation in the sector is currently nine per cent. “There are over 100,000 registered construction companies in the sultanate, out of which over 5,700 are excellent grade and above. Since these companies are awarded larger projects, the pressure on them to comply with the Omanisation target is greater. We have recently made a well-received presentation to MoM, in which we suggested the percentage of Omanisation be dropped. While a new target hasn’t yet been set, a reduction to at least 15 per cent is being considered. This target could be reviewed on a yearly basis.”

The sector may also be impacted by oil prices. Dr Hamed al Dhahab, chairman of the OSC board said that he anticipates prioritisation of projects, if oil prices persisted at current levels. “The rapid drop in oil prices brought about uncertainties to the potential growth of the economy at large. If prices persist at these levels, we anticipate a potential prioritisation of projects that may impact the sector in the latter half of 2015 and most of 2016.”

Dr Dhahab said that a ministerial decision has put the responsibility of the sector’s self regulation on OSC. “I am pleased to announce that our efforts are beginning to show positive results. In June 2014, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry

issued Ministerial Decision 174/2014, which aims at regulating the sector and address the negative impact of hidden trade within it. The decision, if fully implemented, will help classify and separate contractors’ activities and so assist in companies’ classification and registration. The decision has also allocated the responsibility of sector’s self-regulation to OSC through Article 6,” he said.

SOURCE: Muscat Daily