Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI ) hosted a meeting with Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser al Bakri, Manpower Minister. The meeting was attended by Khalil bin Abdullah al Khunji, Chairman of OCCI Board, a number of OCCI Board members, businessmen, businesswomen and representatives of the media means.
The meeting discussed the reformation of the sectoral committees and identifying its scope of work. The evening came as continuation of OCCI's efforts to adopt demands of the businessmen and businesswomen regarding the restructuring of the sectoral committees and revising the Omanization rates. These demands were raised at the expanded meeting with the Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs, the Manpower Minister and the Commerce and Industry Minister, which was held on 29th of last March 2011 in OCCI premises to enhance the work of the sectoral committees during the coming period and achieve the prospective aims.
Khalil bin Abdullah al Khunji, Chairman of OCCI Board said at the beginning of the meeting that the event aims at identifying the vision of the private sector for the proposed role of the sectoral committees during the coming period and the aims to be achieved by the sectoral committees and what the sector should do to materialize the prospective aims. The evening also discusses the roles of the other respective departments to achieve the aims. It also aims at discussing the formation and titles for the sectoral committees of the private sector, in addition to discussing the optimum mechanism for the work of the sectoral committees, as well as the OCCI role in activating the performance of the sectoral committees.
Al Khunji welcomed the recent decision of the Council of Ministers, which approved transferring the chairmanship of the sectoral committees to the private sector. He dubbed the decision as "right" and that it will help in solving a number of issues and give more thrust and support in meeting the current and future challenges. He added that this long-waited decision to activate the role of the sectoral committees serves the aims of the sector, achieves the growth and development and increases its participation in the development process.
On his part, the Manpower Minister said that the meeting is a continuation of the dialogue and the joint efforts in the cooperation march with OCCI and the private sector and that the private sector strived during the last period to employ many job seekers. Since establishment in 2001, the sectoral committees seek to develop the private sector by tackling its problems and challenges and reassign the same to the respective authorities. During the past period, heads of these committees have done great efforts and today we are in front of another qualitative leap that will add value to the partnership between the private and public sectors. The chairmanship of the sector committees has been transferred to businessmen and businesswomen from the private sector as the sector can now tolerate its responsibilities and shoulder its affirms. A Main Committee (the Supervisory Committee) has been constituted. The Committee is chaired by the Manpower Minister and includes the Commerce and Industry Minister as deputy chairman, a number of undersecretaries at the respective ministries including OCCI Chairman and heads of the sectoral committees as members. The committee will draft general policies and vision for the work of the sectoral committees. It will also steer the work efforts to develop the work market, training, development and employment to achieve the Omanization objectives and guide the efforts to meet the needs of the work market and manpower.
Sheikh al Bakri added that this step will be positive for the private sector in the Sultanate and will open wider horizons for cooperation between the private and public sectors, avail new job opportunities for the national manpower, in addition to its role in cooperation in the training, replacement, Omanization and other fields.
The attendees listened to an introductory lecture on the sectoral committees. The lecture highlighted the Omani Vision 2020, its objectives towards creating employment, training opportunities, increasing the capacity of the work market and other objectives that serve the growth of the national economy and meet needs of the private sector in terms of the qualified national manpower.
The lecture also highlighted the role of the sectoral committees during the coming period especially towards creating healthy business environment, maintaining the stability of the national manpower at the work market, developing human resources and instatement of national manpower in place of expatriates.
The lecture also highlighted the current status of the sectoral committees as there are 15 sectoral committees chaired by undersecretaries of the respective ministries. They comprise members from the public and private sectors representing 67% for the private sector and 33% for the governmental sector. The Ministry submitted a proposal to the private sector to downsize the number of the sectoral committees to 11 committees, namely agriculture and fisheries, oil and gas, manufacturing industries, construction, retail and wholesale, tourism, transport, warehousing and communication, financial brokerage, health and private education, electricity and water, in addition to services and real estate committees. Coordination will be maintained with OCCI to study these committees, the formation of its members and heads.
The Manpower Minister affirmed that the new thing in the sectoral committees is that they will have representatives of the industrial stakeholders, namely the government, employers and employees as members of these committees. The involvement of the Sultanate's General Trade Union for the first time will contribute in solving a number of issues and enhancing the existing cooperation among the stakeholders.
The evening function then moved to the second issue, which was dedicated to the questions and remarks by the attendees.
One attendant questions the lack of the real role of the sectoral committees, which failed to address a number of challenges in the past period including the Omanization rates at the private sector. The Manpower Minister pointed out that the chairmanship of the sector committees has been transferred to the private sector to manage the activities of the committees, identify their objectives and play an active role in meeting the challenges of the sector. He added that the government believes that the next stage will be a real partnership with the private sector.
During the meeting, OCCI chairman unveiled a number of violations by some managers of human resources in the private sector.
Sheikh al Bakri pointed out that despite the progress made, the private sector's employment of the national manpower is not more than 20% till date; most of which are in the low salary category. He added that it is not fair to employ expatriates at our companies while we have national cadres.
The proposal to add a committee for human resources at the new list of the sectoral committees was blessed and welcomed by the Manpower Minister.
The attendees also requested making a revision for the Omani Vision 2020 in light of the changes and developments witnessed by the Sultanate during the past period.
The businessmen and businesswomen highlighted the importance of organizing workshops for the training of the sectoral committees' members, so that they get the required expertise and knowledge that make them active members in these committees.
He added that the Sultanate has recently signed the Decent Work Programme, which includes a number of programmes and activities that will run through till 2015.
At the end of the meeting, Sheikh al Bakri pointed out that the Manpower Ministry is currently creating vacancies bank, which will include all the available job opportunities at the private sector.