Overhaul human resource development
Published: 10/04/2017 12:00 pm
Group Managing Director , Jawad Sultan Group
In the wake of the recent oil price woes, we need to focus one some core sectors – human resources, SMEs, tourism and logistics. While the rest of the world is fast evolving into intelligence or knowledge-based economies, we are still heavily dependent on natural resources. To do that we have to overhaul our method of developing our human resources and unfortunately we are ignoring this. People might argue that we are getting there through Omanisation, but in fact it is the opposite. Other than seeing Omanis in key positions, the policy hasn't helped in outgrowing our dependency on natural resources and become a knowledge-based economy.
Omanisation is a good policy, but the manner in which it is being implemented needs to be re-evaluated. We have to promote a spirit of innovation, competitiveness and a passion to develop their potential and grow among young Omanis. Now companies cannot fire Omanis even if they do not perform. This sense of security will not motivate us to grow and improve.
Another issue is regarding SMEs. On the one hand we say we support SMEs, but in reality cumbersome rules and regulations dissuade prospective entrepreneurs and thereby hamper the growth of this sector.
I would suggest that the ministries come together to re-analyse the fundamentals of regulations that are counterproductive. They should accept suggestions from the business community. Policies like increase in corporate income tax is welcome, but the hands of the business community need to be freed of restrictive regulations. Such regulations may also detract foreign investors who may go to neighbouring countries.
Tourism is a sector that has the potential to become one of the biggest contributors to our economy. We are building airports, luxury resorts and hotels, but the support system is not well-etched. We don't have proper taxi fare system and visa approvals are a nightmare. We seem to continue to concentrate on European tourists, but with currency issues, the inflow from that side is much lower.
On the contrary Asian are spending more, but we are not tapping that market at all. Also the added focus on high end luxury travellers is not a prudent strategy for overall growth of the sector.
Finally we have to improve our logistics network to ensure smooth flow of traffic from our special economic zones, otherwise this could also lead to losing business to competitors.