Measures to boost productivity rolled out in Oman

Muscat: A number of key measures have been listed by the government which would help increase productivity and efficiency in the implementation of projects and initiatives, as also improve fiscal performance.

Enshrined in the guide to the 2022 State General Budget, the measures can be broadly divided into two categories, namely, government projects and initiatives and fiscal performance improvement measures. There are 12 initiatives listed under the former.
Government projects and initiatives
The government initiatives include Digital Transformation Project to be carried out by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology (MTCIT).

This four-step programme includes launching of a unified guide for government services, launching of the first phase of e-services on a unified government platform, bringing out a national platform to receive suggestions and complaints and initiatives and activities for space exploration.

Ministry of Economy projects include the Governorate Development Programme and regular follow-ups on the implementation of strategic projects.

Other key government initiatives include the Ministry of Labour’s system to measure individual employee’s performance and individual proficiency. Called “Ejadah” (Arabic for ‘excel’), the new system has already been rolled out in some government

“Ejadah, which will be implemented in January 2022, aims to develop human resources by linking incentives and rewards with the level of productivity,” said the budget report.

The Ministry of Health was among the first to adopt this new system when it rolled it out on Sunday, 2 January.
Several steps are to be taken to support SMEs. These include the drafting of an SME law, introducing regulations for funding, Riyada cards and Sanad centres, announcing regulations relating to incubators, launching group financing platforms and supporting craft industries and single-person entities.

Fiscal performance improvement measures
The government’s fiscal performance improvement measures include the revision of laws concerning finance as well as introducing new measures to balance public spending.

A key step listed is the revision of the Financial Law and Executive Bylaws.

The budget report said: “In light of modernising laws and revising the regulations pertaining to economic and financial aspects, alongside the restructuring of the State’s administrative apparatus, the Financial Law and its Executive Bylaws are under revision in order to address the recent changes and to regulate the financial systems developed by the Ministry of Finance.

“Some of the systems include Programme Based Budget, GFMIS and Treasury Single Account.”

Another important measure is the Public Debt Law, which aims to manage funding the government obtains as loan from banks, financial institutions and individuals, to finance its public expenditures.

“The law also aims to regulate and manage public debt operations, diversify the sources of funding, monitor the level of indebtedness and associated risks and improve cash flow management mechanisms,” the report read.
To manage public finances, the government aims to introduce a modern financial system to plan, implement, control and report on the State’s budget.

Called “Maliyah” (Arabic for ‘finance’), the new platform will provide accurate, reliable, timely and consistent financial information that supports financial and economic decision makers to achieve economic diversification and financial sustainability.

It will also develop a modern financial accounting and report system and new budget classifications in line with government financial statistics and enable better cash management and effective utilisation of public funds.

Programme-based budget
Another plan highlighted in the budget is the Programme Based Budget (PBB), which identifies public spending priorities and links spending to objectives and activities.

PBB is to have several advantages, including the linking of the objectives of Oman Vision 2040 and Five Year Development Plans with annual programmes and activities, organising and integrating government programmes, providing flexibility in allocation of resources, raising financial and administrative efficiency, connecting financial planning with public policies, providing authentic data about public performance, linking objectives and outcome with spending and reflecting public policies and objectives within the budget.

National register of assets
Plans have also been drawn up to create a National Register of Government Assets.
“The register aims to register and determine the actual value of government assets, generate more financial resources, centralise government asset management and enhance efficiency, secure more financial resources for the State Budget and identify government assets for privatisation and public-private partnerships,” said the budget report.

Pricing of services
The government will also go ahead with implementing a fee setting policy handbook to standardise pricing of government

“In its first phase, the handbook was applied to the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion (MOCIIP) and the municipalities sector,” explained the report.

The rollout resulted in the reduction or cancellation of 548 service fees, the merging of some municipal licences resulting in similar business activities no longer requiring separate licences. As part of this effort, 88 per cent of services provided by MOCIIP are to be transferred to the Invest Easy platform.

Pension funds
Another step to be taken is the merger of pension funds to create comprehensive social protection coverage, a unified methodology for investment management and enhance investment capacity and efficiency.

The merger of pension funds comes in line with Royal Decree 33/2021 and will create two funds: the Social Security Fund for public and private sectors and the Military and Security Services Retirement Fund for military and security personnel.

Contracts and procurement system
Efforts to modernise standard contracts are also to be undertaken in 2022, making it easier to update contract clauses as per international norms, obtain copies of contracts from the Ministry of Finance, draft single contracts in Arabic and English and fill in details electronically.

A new central government procurement system is also to be adopted. This unit will control government procurement processes, negotiate quotations from suppliers, establish direct link with service providers, monitor government inventory, reduce public expenditure and staff numbers in procurement departments, build close relations with suppliers and migrate to e-businesses for key processes, including tenders, contracts and payments.

Other plans in the pipeline are a supply chain financing scheme to provide simple and effective financial solutions to government suppliers, launching the “Tafakur” platform to promote exchange of ideas between public bodies and societies to help improve financial management and achieve fiscal sustainability and opening a treasury single account to unify government bank accounts and deal with government revenue and expenditure on a daily basis, thereby enabling optimal use of public sector cash resources.

“Oman has achieved positive outcomes and indicators in 2021 as a result of government measures and efforts towards achieving national objectives,” explained the report.

“Such an approach, if maintained, will ensure better outcomes in 2022 and strengthen ratings agencies and investors’ confidence”.

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