HM Meets Citizens in Bahla
The Oman Daily Observer
Mon, 28 January 2013
HM Talking To The Citizens
Fund, college for youth support unveiled — BAHLA — His Majesty Sultan Qaboos held a meeting with the Shaikhs and dignitaries of Al Dakhiliyah and Wusta governorates at the Royal camp at Saih al Shamikhat in the Wilayat of Bahla as part of the Royal meet-the-people tour.
The meeting was in continuation of the Royal tradition established by His Majesty the Sultan since the dawn of the Renaissance. Such meetings seek to enhance the ongoing contact between His Majesty the Sultan and the citizens of Oman.
On the outset of the meeting, His Majesty the Sultan welcomed the attendees saying, ”It is our pleasure to meet you today on the land of Bahla, which is known for its rich history and its status as one of the most important Omani cities that is abundant with traditional crafts and heritage, a fact all Omanis know and are proud of.”
In the Royal address before the Shaikhs and dignitaries, His Majesty the Sultan said, “The wilayat of Bahla, which has this great history, is also an incubator for traditional crafts and deep-rooted heritage. We would like to tell you that we have decided to set up a college here, in the wilayat of Bahla, that will be named Ajyal College, said His Majesty the Sultan.
”The College will play a role in training Omani men and women in the field of traditional crafts industries in a bid to revive and develop this heritage vocation. I believe that the output will be 200 persons at the initial stage, later expected to extend to 800 persons during the coming four years.”
Speaking about youth projects support, His Majesty the Sultan pointed out that, in the past years there were many sources for supporting youth to enable them to set up and promote their own projects, the most notable of which is Sanad Programme which, His Majesty the Sultan said, has really performed its duty in the best manner for many years. Other youth support projects exist at other government departments, His Majesty the Sultan explained.
His Majesty the Sultan added in this respect, “We have now decided to group all these sources under a fund to be known as Al Rafd Fund, which will carry out a specific mission. Al Rafd will be established for the sake of these young men and women, to enable them to develop their small and medium enterprises.
His Majesty the Sultan explained that Al Rafd Fund will have a great significance and that “We have decided it will have a starting capital of RO 70 million, to which RO 7 million will be added every year. This fund will be a bounty for our sons and daughters.”
His Majesty the Sultan referred to the outcome of the Symposium on Small and Medium Enterprises Development, “held in this blessed place”. The symposium, His Majesty the Sultan said, “came out with decisions, and this is the first time that a symposium comes with decisions, instead of recommendations as was the case in the past. Recommendations may or may not be considered, but, from now onwards, if there are symposiums, they will be symposiums that issue decisions, not merely recommendations.”
Speaking about this latest symposium, His Majesty the Sultan said that it came out with 14 very good decisions. “The decisions are binding, not merely decisions that are subject to procedures. As it should be understood, these decisions are also time-bound to varying periods, some of which are immediate and some will succeed in the next year and beyond.”
“One of the important and binding decisions of the symposium, which we blessed, is the one related to the issue of land plots allocated for the owners of projects, whether industrial, commercial, agricultural or otherwise – for them to benefit from the lands. This, we believe, will be a matter that supports our youth, both men and women, and encourage them to take up these projects of potential value,” said His Majesty the Sultan.
His Majesty the Sultan proceeded on saying, “Years before, if we recall, the trend was to distribute some land plots for people with limited income to benefit from. Now, the practice is to make these land plots available for people to benefit from them and for a long time. We pray to the Almighty that our youths will take more interest in these different options.”
Then, His Majesty the Sultan spoke about illicit trade, noting, “We say in very clear terms that illicit trade should be avoided which does not serve the interest of our sons and daughters, not even the interest of the grown-ups, who might have found out in the past period that this kind of trade was absolutely harmful to the Omani economy. We have to be aware of this matter and give it full attention. We have to be aware that illicit trade is direct loss to our country!”
Further to His Majesty the Sultan’s comment on this harmful practice (illicit trade) and its relation to expatriate workers’ money transfers, His Majesty the Sultan said, “These transfers are more than the known official income. Billions of Omani rials are transferred abroad annually,” said His Majesty the Sultan, noting that the government and all segments of society have to do their duty to eradicate this illicit trade which keeps depleting the Omani economy, thereby minimizing chances for the employment of Omani youths. “This practice is not at all acceptable,” His Majesty the Sultan said.
His Majesty the Sultan pointed out that expatriate manpower is on the rise and increased more than should be. “We decided, a certain time ago, to have a specific percentage of expatriate and this percentage was reasonable. But we are in need of expatriate manpower now and in future. Every country in the world has expatriate manpower, even major industrial countries depend in some matters on expatriate manpower,” His Majesty said.
His Majesty the Sultan explained, “The percentage that we have always considered should be within 30 per cent to 33 per cent of the total population. At the present time, there is no doubt that expatriate manpower increased greatly, but some of the numbers are justifiable in temporary terms, like in some mega projects which, thank God, the country is witnessing, including projects in Duqm and other places.
A future project (which will require expatriate manpower) is the railway project. Expatriate manpower is still required because our domestic manpower still takes up certain aspects of work. God willing, in the course of days, our Omani manpower will be present in all professions and at all projects.”
His Majesty the Sultan said that he gave his Royal directives to the Government and the Majlis Oman (Council of Oman). His Majesty said the Council will support the Government in this respect, and that a timeframe will be set for applying the statutory or required ratio.
Some of this expatriate manpower absconds and it takes time to deport them, a burden on the government and the security departments in the state. It costs the Government and it does not bring any benefits in any way, said His Majesty the Sultan, who also cautioned against the negative impact of illegal immigration which, he said, has become a daily occurrence.
The illegal immigrants come by boat, and these matters have to be tackled in a moderate manner that would not annoy the countries from which these groups of illegal immigrants hail. This is also a worrying thing, but it is unavoidable. These departments concerned will do their best in tackling this phenomenon of illegal immigration.
His Majesty the Sultan said that a limit has to be made to the expatriate manpower that is recruited by citizens. “There will be decisions and procedures to limit the numbers of this manpower because it is time to take proper action,” said His Majesty, noting that a country would grow only by the growth of its economy. “Economy has become the result of efforts of the country’s youths,” he added.
His Majesty the Sultan said that the funds that enter the State’s Treasury come from taxes on existing establishments because no taxes are imposed on private capital, though it is the practice in advanced or industrial countries, “which give by one hand and take away by the other hand”.
“In our countries, thanks be to the Almighty, taxes are imposed only on establishments and on companies and these taxes are fairly limited. “Still, the Government is supporting these establishments and companies so that they can expand and grow and, eventually achieve two objectives: Firstly, to absorb national manpower and secondly, the more these establishments and companies expand and grow, the more they pay taxes and enhance the State’s income thereby serving the best interest of the country and its citizens,” said His Majesty the Sultan.
“I’m often surprised by the queries of some people who wonder where funds for the construction of roads, hospitals and schools come from. This is all part of ht eplans of the government, the funds it possesses and the national economy that is generated. No doubt, the Government is managing this and will continue to do so in the best possible manner, but it also has to have programmes and plans. Above all this, we still go beyond these plans and give our directives for the establishment of additional projects which we deem as necessary or which respond to the demands which we receive and consider as important,” said His Majesty the Sultan.
“Take, for example, the road network. We have an unmatched road network in the Sultanate, despite the high cost incurred due to the geographical nature of the Sultanate, but since it serves the interest of citizens, we provide the financial resources for these roads,” said His Majesty the Sultan in the Royal address before the Shaikhs and dignitaries of Al Dakhiliyah and Wusta Governorates at Saih al Shamikhat yesterday, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. However, things have to be taken one by one because one cannot accomplish everything in one day and night.
His Majesty the Sultan reaffirmed that development is forging ahead at high rates and will not stop no matter what circumstances could be. “Everything will have a well-studied plan and the Supreme Council for Planning will perform its duty diligently because it is right under our direct supervision,” said His Majesty the Sultan, who reaffirmed that the Council will study many topics and all requirements. “We will know where the development process has reached. We will check if it reaches a satisfactory level or not and therefore focus on the weaker part before adding more whatever the conditions might require. These matters have to be clear.”
The national economy of any country is based on the small and medium industries it has, and these national sectors continue to grow into major industries.
“Industries in the past required large numbers of workers, but today, because of technology, many major industries require a small number of workers. However, other industries that feed major industries gain importance and these small and medium industries are at the end of the day the backbone of the national economy, and it is here that the role of our sons and daughters crystalizes, now and in future,” said His Majesty.
His Majesty the Sultan said, while watching television, he was greatly delighted to hear that Omani youths say that “Now it is our turn … the ball is on our racket!”. His Majesty said it is a good thing because these youths felt that everything that might assist them or support them is now made available. More support will be provided if they prove their potential in this field of work.
Then, His Majesty the Sultan spoke about the importance of the sea for Omanis, which has been the case since ancient times. “The sea has been important for travel and for livelihood, fisheries, and this is a very important fact. We need to preserve this wealth and develop it as it serves as an important aspect of the national economy,” said His Majesty the Sultan.
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