[SPONSORED REPORTS] Oman marks 50th National DayOn Nov. 18, the Sultanate marks its 50th National Day anniversary.
With firm resolve, Omani citizens continue to make more achievements under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik, who vowed to upgrade the march of nation building and enhance the pace of progress, striking a high note in the Omani people’s enthusiasm for an ambitious renaissance that covers all spheres of life.
Despite the immense calamity that befell Oman, the Arab world and the Islamic nation upon the death of the late Sultan, Jan. 11 was a virtually unforgettable day in Omani history. On this day, Omanis depicted a unique national saga of loyalty and devotion when the Sultanate surprised the whole world with a smooth transition of power.
In gratitude and tribute to the late Sultan, the royal family endorsed, with unwavering certitude, the successor chosen by the late monarch to take the helm, given his proven wisdom and farsightedness.
Within a short span of 10 months, His Majesty Sultan Haitham was able to make many achievements. With insight and strong will, he restructured the State’s Administrative Apparatus to keep pace with Oman Vision 2040 whose salient features were drawn out by all segments of society in a manner that responds to His Majesty the Sultan’s aspirations.
Under his patronage, the participants determined the future goals and economic, social and cultural approaches for a more verdant phase of development.
Royal Decree No. 75/2020 on the State’s Administrative Apparatus constituted a turning point in practicing and regulating administrative action in the Sultanate.
Its pursuits will shake up the structure by introducing new mechanisms that contribute to streamlining of procedures, maximizing benefits from services and finalizing them in the shortest possible time in a manner that conforms to Oman Vision 2040.
A strategic approach of Oman Vision 2040 is to accord priority to the development of sustainable governorates and cities by espousing decentralization as a style of governance mentioned in Article 2 of the above-mentioned decree, which states that “the State’s Administrative Apparatus consists of central units like ministries and councils and non-central units like authorities and public establishments.”
Royal Decree No. 101/2020 on regulating governorates and municipal affairs will contribute to the establishment of sustainable development, utilization of resources in the most ideal manner, generating benefits from tourism resources and heritage landmarks of every governorate and managing municipal utilities.
The Governorates Affairs Council will facilitate coordination among governorates as they practice their respective specializations and it will follow up the implementation of developmental projects. It will also assess their performance, evaluate their budgets and monitor investment of their resources.
His Majesty the Sultan’s attention to the people crystalized in the way he tackled the Covid-19 pandemic since its outbreak in late 2019. His Majesty gave orders to form a Supreme Committee to find scopes to deal with the virus: Monitor its spread, follow up regional and international efforts to limit its impacts and to devise solutions in accordance with assessment of general health results.
Meanwhile, an Endowment Fund and an “Anti-Covid-19 Support Fund” were established as prime movers of public support to the Ministry of Health in the battle against coronavirus. His Majesty the Sultan himself donated 10 million Omani rial ($26 million) as a personal contribution to the funds. The gesture reaffirms the full collaboration between the leader, the government and members of the public, both citizens and residents, to help eliminate the threat of the virus.
The Supreme Committee tasked with tackling developments resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic took many decisions and espoused precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus. It imposed partial lockdown in some governorates and total lockdown in other governorates.
It also set up Command and Control Points, banned nighttime movement, closed mosques, suspended study in schools and other educational establishments, downsized workforce at public and private workplaces, activated online work, suspended some commercial activities and imposed laws and regulations to ensure abidance by preventive procedures and stem the spread of the virus.
In view of the heavy toll on the global economy from coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and its repercussions that reflected in the situation in the Sultanate, His Majesty Sultan Haitham gave orders to form an economic committee, an offshoot of the Supreme Covid-19 Control Committee, to deal with the economic impacts of Covid-19 in the domestic front.
Accordingly, a number of decisions were taken and resulted in the Government’s offering packages and incentives to private sector establishments and firms. The steps included the establishment of an Emergency Loans Programme which offers assistance to segments of entrepreneurs whose businesses were most severely stricken by the pandemic.
As soon as he assumed power, in his first address, His Majesty Sultan Haitham reaffirmed the permanent stands of the Sultanate’s foreign policy, saying that the Sultanate advocates peaceful co-existence among nations, good neighborliness and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. His Majesty the Sultan also stressed that he would follow the footsteps of the late Sultan Qaboos Bin Said bin Taimour.
The much-awaited Oman Economic Vision, scheduled to be implemented upon the start of the 10th Five Year Plan in January 2021, meets with serious challenges, including the slump in international oil prices and the global spread of Covid-19.
These challenges prompted the government to undertake stringent measures, including a Medium-Term Fiscal Balance Plan (2020-2024) which features many initiatives and programs aimed at establishing solid foundations for financial sustainability, reducing general debt, upgrading the efficiency of government spending, enhancing the State’s financial reserves, improving revenues from investment of government and, thus, setting economic growth upright.
The government of the Sultanate, represented by the Ministry of Finance, also cut down budgets of government units by 5 percent, downsizing operational budgets and financial plans of government firms by at least 10 percent and slashing remunerations of boards of public authorities and establishment and affiliate committees by 50 percent, applying a 5 percent Value Added Tax by April 2021. All these measures are expected to supply the budget with a sum of 400 million Omani rial.
The government capitalizes on investment in Omani ports, particularly the Port of Sohar and the Port of Salalah, in addition to special economic zones. The tourism sector also forms one of the basic pillars of economic diversification. The government has devised clear-cut strategies to maximize benefits from investment in the tourism sector.
One of the bright aspects of the renewed Omani renaissance under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik is the attention accorded to Omani women. The vital role of women in the nation building march has been highly recognized.
His Majesty the Sultan said, “We all have to ensure that women get their full rights guaranteed by law, including their right to work side by side with men across all sectors to serve their country and society.”
Last month, His Majesty the Sultan conferred the Order of Royal Commendation on a number of Omani women. The Order was presented by the Honorable Lady, the Spouse of His Majesty the Sultan, at a ceremony at Al Baraka Palace on Oct. 17.
His Majesty the Sultan described youth as “the inexhaustible wealth of nations […] its hands that build.”
He voiced his sincere desire to listen to youth, explore their interests, address their concerns and achieve their aspirations. The celebration of Omani Youth Day on Oct. 26 came as reaffirmation of the Sultanate government’s commitment towards this segment of society and its determination to provide them with all means that facilitate their march forward as they contribute to their country’s progress.
HH Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham al-Said, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, gave a speech at the event, saying, “Omani youth have shown that they are highly capable of shouldering their national responsibility. This confidence stems from their full awareness about their cause and how to serve by it espousing means of advancement, coupled with clear vision and firm resolve to participate in the rejuvenating renaissance of Oman.”
“They are open to the culture of co-existence, love and peace.”
By Ahn Tae-lahm [email@example.com]