Oman: Is extension of expat hire ban necessary?

Oman’s government extended a freeze on hiring foreigners because the number of local workers in the private sector was not rising fast enough — but official statistics indicate the ban may not be necessary, experts say.

A six-month ban on expatriate hires in 10 sectors including media, information technology, marketing, insurance and aviation was announced in January and will now continue until the end of the year.

The number of Omanis employed by the private sector in these industries rose by 3.6 per cent in the first four months of this year compared to the same period in 2017, according to the National Centre for Statistics Information (NCSI). In the same period, there was a 1.5 per cent drop in the number of expatriates registered in the private sector overall.

However, the figures were short of the government’s target and that is why it decided to extend its non-citizens hiring ban, said Hafidh Al Harmali, an independent employment expert.

“I don’t think the government is happy with the outcome of the first ban and this has led to the ban extension. About 2,000 jobs were created for Omanis in these banned jobs — that is encouraging but not enough,” Mr Al Harmali told. “However, we need to wait until end of this year when the extended ban comes to an end to see its real impact.”

Omanis are still outnumbered almost eight to one by foreign workers in the private sector, according to the ministry of manpower’s figures.By April, there were 245,253 Omani employees in the private sector compared with 1.84 million foreigners.

But Ali Al Zaabi, an Omani economist working for the government, said statistics on new private-sector jobs created for Omanis showed that there was no need to restrict hiring of expatriates, whose expertise was still needed by the sultanate.

The government said in October that it planned to start creating 25,000 new jobs in the private sector from December to reduce unemployment among Omanis. A total of 16,823 jobs were created by the end of May, the manpower ministry’s statistics show.

 

Source Credit: The National

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