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Ripple effect of hidden trade hits Oman’s economy

Ripple effect of hidden trade hits Oman’s economy

MUSCAT:  Oman’s labour market that needs to be addressed, according to Shahswar Al Balushi, CEO of Oman Society of Contractors, reported the Times of Oman. Hidden trade occurs when an Omani has a company, which he doesn’t actually run, operate or finance, and an expat does and uses the commercial registration against a fee.

Al Balushi added that hidden trade is not just bad for individuals involved but for the economy of the country as well. First, it means there is no Omanisation. Second, there have been cases whereby the potential expat who’s conducting business takes deposits for work to be done and runs away, with no mechanism of controlling the policy.

“It is a huge practice in Oman and we need to address the issue of hidden trade,” said Al Balushi. When he presented his paper to Tanfeedh as the leader of labour labs he tried to demonstrate hidden trade in the construction sector, which is the biggest employer in the country, employing approximately 750,000 people; 55,000 are Omanis and the remainder is made up of expats. On further analysis, medium and large companies employ half of the Sultantae’s expat population, while small companies employ the other half.

“Out of the 55,000 Omanis, the medium and large companies employ 52,000 and the small companies employ only 3,000. So there is a distortion. Therefore, Omanisation in the sector is below eight per cent, but if you take the medium and large companies, Omanisation is 16 per cent,” he explained.

Al Balushi also emphasised the importance of quality and not quantity Omanisation. He added that in order to ensure quality and not quantity Omanisation, upskilling of middle management and top management needs to be introduced, and a balanced formula between jobseekers and the process of upscaling needs to be established, which will create a flow upwards. “People who are already in the work will get upscaled and those who are new fill in the lower gap.