Tag Archives: Royal Decree

Grades and salary scale amended

Muscat: His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said has issued four Royal Decrees as follows:

Royal Decree No. 54/2012, establishing a Secretariat General for Administrative Affairs Council for Judiciary and approving its organisational structure.

Article One: Establishes a Secretariat General for the Administrative Affairs Council for judiciary, stipulated in the said Judicial Authority Law called ‘The Secretariat General for the Administrative Affairs Council for Judiciary’ that will assist the council and its chairman in practicing their legally established powers. 

Article Two: The Secretariat General for Administrative Affairs Council for Judiciary will be administered by a fulltime secretary general to be delegated from among the deputies of the Supreme Court president, as per a decision from the chairman of  the Administrative Affairs Council for Judiciary after getting the approval of the council. The term will be for three years, renewable for similar period/periods with the same entitlements and job allocations. The Secretary General will be issued administration allowance to be decided by the decision of the chairman after the approval of the council. 

Article Three: The jurisdiction of the secretary general shall be specified by a decision of the chairman of the Administrative Affairs Council for Judiciary after getting the approval of
the council. 

Article Four: The organisational structure for the Secretariat General of Administrative Affairs Council for Judiciary shall be according to the attached annex. Article Five: The decree comes into force from the date of
its issue.

Royal Decree No. 55/2012, amending Annex No. (1) of grades and salary scale of the Civil Service Law. 

Article One: The Fifth Grade shall be abolished from the grades and salary scale schedule attached to the said Civil Service Law. In implementing the provision of this law, the Fourth Grade shall be the direct next grade to Sixth.

Article Two: The decree comes into force from January 1, 2006.
Royal Decree No. 56/2012, amending salary and grade scale attached to the special law for the system of employees at the Diwan of Royal Court. 

Article One: Abolishes the Second, Sixth and 12th grades of the degrees and salaries attached to the said special law for the system of employees at the Diwan of Royal Court. In implementing the provisions of this law, the first grade is the next one to the Third Grade, the Fifth Grade is the next one to the Seventh Grade and the 11th Grade is the next grade to the 13th Grade.
Article Two: The decree comes into force from January 1, 2007.
Royal Decree No. 57/2012, regarding the Omani Olympic Committee and the elected sports associations.

Article One: The affairs of the Omani Olympic Committee and the elected sports associations shall be regularised by the basic statutes approved by their general assemblies in line with the basic statute of the Omani Olympic Committee or the basic statute of the sports associations, approved by the Ministry of Sports Affairs provided they do not contravene with the basic statues of the respective international sports organisations and the law in force in the Sultanate. 

Article Two: Without prejudice to any other law or Royal Decree, the provisions of the said Law for the Special Organisations Operating in the Sports Fields do not apply to the Omani Olympic Committee and the elected sports associations such as Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15,
Sub-article 5 and 6 of Articles 29, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49 and 52 such as its Sub-article 6 and Article (53) such as items 4 and 5 of them and the Articles 54, 73 and 74.
 
Article Three: The chairman of the Board of the Omani Olympic Committee and chairmen of the boards of the elected sports associations or their alternate should notify the Ministry of Sports Affairs with a copy of the annual draft plan and budget before three months at least of the beginning of the fiscal year.

They should notify the Ministry with a copy of the final account in March next year after the end of the fiscal year at maximum. 
The bodies of the Omani Olympic Committee and the elected sports associations may not approve the draft annual budget unless it is approved by the Ministry of Sports Affairs. 

They may not amend or change the areas specified for spending the governmental subsidy during the fiscal year except with a prior written approval by the ministry.

Article Four: The chairman of the Board of the Omani Olympic Committee and the chairmen of the boards of the elected sports associations or their alternate should open an account in the name of the committee or the association at one of the approved banks in the Sultanate and notify the Ministry of Sports Affairs about the same. This account may not be changed without the approval of the ministry.

Article Five: The chairman of the Board of the Omani Olympic Committee and chairmen of the boards and chairman of the elected sports associations shall notify the Ministry of Sports Affairs in writing about all participations, meetings and foreign camps before initiating the same to ensure that they are among the annual plan and that the funds allocated to them are within the financial allocations at its annual budget. These boards may not enter into agreements with any individuals or agencies inside or outside the Sultanate except after getting the approval of the ministry.

Article Six: The chairman of the Board of the Omani Olympic Committee and the chairmen of the elected sports associations or their alternate shall ensure prior coordination with the respective agencies at the Ministry of Sports Affairs on issues related to workers at the committee and associations, including those whose employment issues are governed by special contracts. The decisions and the contracts in this regard shall not become binding unless they are approved by this agency.

Article Seven: The respective committees stipulated at the basic statute of the Omani Olympic Committee and the elected sports associations will only have the jurisdiction to consider the disputes and make a decision as per the measures stipulated in this statute. The decisions issued in this regard are judgments that may not be appealed except by following the procedures stipulated in this statute and accordance with the procedures set in it.

In implementing the provisions of this decree, sports disputes are the disputes that are related to the implementation of the provision of the basic statue of the said committee or association or the interpretation of their texts.

Article Eight: The claims related to sports disputes and which are considered by any judicial agency in the Sultanate on the date this decree comes into force shall be referred to the committee stated in Article No. 7 of this Royal Decree as they are and without any fees. The respective parties shall be notified about this referral. 

Article Nine: Abolishes all that contravenes with the Decree or contradicts with its provisions.

Article 10: The Omani Olympic Committee and the elected sports associations should amend their conditions as per the provisions of the decree within a year from the date the Decree comes into force, renewable as per a decision from the Minister of Sports Affairs. Till this time, the basic statute for each of them shall remain in force provided it does not contradict with the provisions of this decree. 

Article Eleven: The Decree comes into force from the next date of its publishing.

Harassment of tenants by landlords is rare in Oman

Of all the difficult human relations, the one between tenants and landlords -”one that we often see-” is perhaps one of the most challenging and complex. Relations between tenants and landlords, despite the best efforts to remain pleasant, at times slide into acrimony, and often without any serious reasons.

Tenants, across the world, have one common notion about landlords -” that their only favourite pastime is to harass tenants. Likewise, landlords, irrespective of being in Oman or elsewhere, seem to be nursing some ancient grudge against the tenants, who they feel are the least rational. Yet, neither can survive without the other. They shall trade charges and fight and still continue to look for each other. The scenario is no different in Oman.

One of the primary reasons for which relations between tenants and landlords deteriorate is the rent. They often squabble over maintenance of the buildings too. In Oman, tenancy agreements are usually done for a year. Normally, the landlords here do not increase rents every year and when they raise it, it’s done after three years and with mutual agreement. It will be an exaggeration to say that landlords here in Oman resort to unfair and high-handed means to put pressure on tenants to increase rents or to force them to vacate accommodations. By and large, landlords in Oman are gentle and cooperative.

However, certain exceptional cases are neither rare nor uncommon. But then they do not prove a trend. In fact, we have come across cases -”and in abundance-” where landlords have mooted proposal to bring down rents and have undertaken measures to mitigate hardships of tenants. In Oman, relations between tenants and landlords are -”by and large-” less acrimonious and are perceptibly harmonious. Let us hear out some of our readers who have spoken out with significant candour on this issue, which to our surprise, seems to have evoked perceptible emotions.

Mohammed Osama Rawat
Ruwi
I have been living in Oman since 1992 and have been fortunate enough not to be harassed by the landlords till date though I changed my residence twice and that too for my personal reasons. It is my good luck that I got the best hospitality form all
my landlords.

But some of my close friends have not been as lucky as I am, and they been harassed to the extent that their electricity and water connection was disconnected by the property in charge or in other words by the appointed goons of building owner.

I suggested them to report the matter to the police but they could not gather courage to do so on the pretext that it is a foreign land for them why to enter in to a conflict with the locals.

How ever one of my known person faced the same kind of problem and had the needed courage to report the matter to the police and later filled a case in the court.

The court gave a verdict in the favour of the tenant in spite of the fact the building owner was quite influential and all his influence failed to impress the Judge.

This Indian family is still staying in the same flat in the same building for couple of years without any problem. I am of the opinion that in every field of life we come across both, the good and the bad kind of people.

The bad kind of people are very few in our society. My humble suggestion to all those who are harassed by their landlords just for no reason , is to report the series of event to the nearest police station and later they must move the matter in the court so that the landlords who are used to harassing their tenants are taken to task and get a lesson to behave properly.

We must remember the fact that by avoiding to raise our voice against such unjust landlords, we are encouraging them to continue their harassment spree.

I have full confidence in ROP and Judiciary of Oman. It my strong conviction that they will never allow any innocent tenant to be harassed by the landlords in Oman.

Jacob Thomas Karickom
Al Ghubra
The landlords are generally cooperative and trust worthy except a few who are after money and want to change the tenants often. Times of Oman had carried out reports of the landlords flexing their muscles and indulging in throwing away the belongings of the tenants without mercy as they are at the receiving end without any help.

The recent amendment in 2010 reducing the tenancy from three years to lesser period depending on the understandings on mutually agreeable terms have sown the seeds of muscle flexing with at least a section of the landlords to increase rent in a haphazard manner.

The tenants who live on smaller income and finding it difficult for a hand to mouth living will not be in a position to accept the landlord’s exorbitant demand for increase as they are incapable to agree with the increase.

The living index is soaring high every day, whether it is food items or the cost of schooling and other sundry expenses.
Though lot of residence flats are coming up, there is no simultaneous lowering of rentals as contemplated in the Demand and supply theory.

The most affected are the poorly paid expatriates where as the Company accommodations do not feel the brunt of any increase as they are capable to foot any bill..
As the law states that the increase should be on mutually agreed terms between the land lord and the tenants, there is no point in the landlords resorting to unilateral decisions.

It is high time the authorities who had amended the rules in 2010,came to the rescue of the tenants by fixing a slab system of increase and directing a notice period to the lease holders to vacate if they are not able to agree with the hike.
To sum up, there is harassment at many corners due to their influence ,residency and muscle power and it can not be generalised.

M.V. Sajeev
Ruwi
There have been many unreported cases of tenants being harassed by landlords in Oman. I did not believe in such reports earlier thinking that how can it happen when there is strong Tenancy Law in force in Oman which is governed by Royal Decree 6/89.
It was again amended in 2008 in response to sharp inflation in the Omani real estate market.

However, my personal experience of harassments at the hands of a greedy landlord made me believe that there is some truth. It happened a couple of years ago. I was then staying in a building in Ruwi where a very famous entertainment house was also running.
The owner of the building then was very nice person and he always ensured that all his tenants had peaceful and joyous stay in his building. But our happiness ended with the sad demise of
the landlord.

It was thereafter sold to another person and the new landlord immediately stopped operation of the entertainment house and started harassing other tenants by demanding unreasonable increase (more than 100 per cent) in rents and denying vehicle parking space within the premise demarcated by the previous owner.

This was dismayed me and other tenants as the Tenancy Law stipulates that even if the landlord sells the property to a third party, the new owner does not have the right to terminate the lease contract or increase the rent indiscriminately.

Under the current Tenancy Law, landlords are not permitted to increase the rent during the first three years of the lease, and thereafter it may not exceed seven per cent per annum irrespective of change in ownership.

To avoid harassment it’s also important that both the parties should ensure that the lease contract is registered with the government. In case the landlord refuses to do so the onus lies on the tenant in order to ensure that his/her right is protected.

I may suggest that the concerned authorities should conduct periodic checking in buildings in Oman to ensure that the tenancy agreement is registered with the relevant municipality and no breach is recorded. I think such actions can help to protect the rights of tenants as well as the landlords to some extent.

Joseph Varghese
Salalah
Dignified landlords who maintain self esteem are blessings to the tenants and vice versa. Landlords have responsibility to provide decent accommodation to the tenants and get the rent from tenants.

Many of the landlords are unaware that they are expected to spend, yearly one month’s rent for the repair and maintenance of the flat/accommodation.

Unmindful of this responsibility, landlords offer many promises and tenants, in great expectations, enter into contracts with landlords. Landlords conveniently forget or ignore most of the promises made prior to signing the agreement. A peculiar situation exists in Salalah. Many single, multi-storied buildings are seen unoccupied. Most of these accommodations are available for 10 months, leaving the two months of “Khareef time- in Salalah.

Landlords don’t mind where you go during that time with your family and belongings. If you need an accommodation for the whole the year then the landlords demand an exorbitant rent. If one enters into contract with the landlords for ten months and happen to overstay for even three or four days they are forced to cough up ‘Khareef season rent’.

As a matter of fact, many tenants end up paying hefty amount because some of them may not have got the leave or may be could not leave station due to other unforeseen reasons. In Salalah, many houses are kept deliberately kept vacant for 10 months only to be rented out for two months during the khareef season.

Sanjay Harishankar Sharma
Muscat
I was a tenant for 9 years, I got notice from landlord in Ruwi to vacate the flat as contract will not be renewed, they want more rent, I have decided to vacate the premises, and I changed the flat in another location. The landlord refused to refund my security deposit which was deposited nine years back. He demanded that I have to paint the flat before leaving. As far I know maintenance of flats should be done by landlord. I certainly felt harassed and cheated.

Vijayalakshmi Shetty
Muscat
No I don’t feel I am harassed as I have a great Landlord. He and his family are lovely people and I feel very comfortable with them.

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Oman soon to regulate Islamic banking sector

 

MUSCAT — The much-awaited regulation for Islamic banks and window operations of conventional banks will be announced through a Royal Decree at any time.

“It can come at any time. The Majlis A’Shura and Cabinet have already cleared the new regulation and now we are waiting for a Royal Decree, which can come at any time,” Central Bank of Oman Executive President Hamoud Sangour Al Zadjali, told Times of Oman.

It appears that the Royal Decree is for amending certain clauses to incorporate Islamic banking business. In fact, Bank Nizwa – the first Islamic bank in the country – and several other conventional banks are ready for starting Islamic banking business.

Bank Nizwa, which has a paid-up capital of RO150 million, has been ready with its key officials for starting its operations, while Alizz Islamic Bank is raising RO40 million from investors for forming the bank. Among conventional banks, Bank Muscat, Ahlibank, Bank Sohar and National Bank of Oman are expected to be the first ones to enter the market with their Islamic banking products. Ahli Bank is fully geared up start window operations through four branches.

“We are 100 percent ready for starting window operations. We have our Shariah board, accounting and auditing standards and risk management are in place and have already recruited staff. Also, we have established core banking system and devised Islamic banking products,” Abdul Aziz Al Balushi, CEO of Ahlibank, told Times of Oman. A five-member Shariah board, exclusive branches for window operation, clear cut segregation of conventional and Islamic banking with separate teams of people and accounts and a 12 percent capital adequacy ratio were the main highlights of the Islamic Banking Draft Framework (IBRF), when it was prepared by international audit firm Ernst and Young. Ernst Young advised the Central Bank of Oman for framing the set of new regulation. However, top-level officials in the banking sector are not clear whether the banking regulator has made changes in the draft report, after receiving their feedbacks.

“We are waiting for the regulation to come for allocating funds for Islamic banking window operation,” added Al Balushi. The bank would like to see the capital requirement for different types of Islamic banking products for taking a final decision on allocating capital. Ahlibank recently mobilized RO25 million through a rights issue, which took the paid up capital to RO120 million.

“We are prepared for starting window operations,” added Dr. Mohammed Abdulazz Kalmoor, chief executive officer of Bank Sohar. The bank is looking at opening five exclusive branches – two in capital area and three in interior regions – for offering Islamic banking services. Like other commercial banks, Bank Sohar has done enormous amount of work in terms of groundwork for launching Islamic banking services.

According to the draft Islamic banking framework, of the Shariah board, three should be experienced Islamic scholars and two should be from relevant field, either a professional in Islamic law or Islamic accounting. CBO’s draft regulation also stipulated on separate branches for Islamic banking window operation of conventional banks.

The draft regulation also insisted on a 12 percent capital adequacy, with a minimum paid up capital of RO10 million for starting window operations. Another major suggestion for window operation is that funds can be pumped into Islamic line of business by a conventional parent bank, but Islamic banking operation cannot transfer money for using it in conventional banking. — Agencies

Information Workshop on State’s Financial and Administrative Auditing Opens …


Information Workshop on States Financial and Administrative Auditing Opens Tomorrow

           

       Muscat, Sept 16 (ONA)—The State Financial and Administrative Audit Institution’ (“SFAAI”) organizes tomorrow (Monday) in collaboration with Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN) a workshop to the company’s employees about ” Introduction to State’s Financial and Administrative Audit Law issued by Royal Decree No. 111/2011 and the Public Fund Protection and Avoiding Conflict of Interests Law issued by the Royal Decree 112/2011.

      The workshop aims to familiarize employees with the State’s Financial and Administrative Audit Law and the Public Fund Protection and Avoiding Conflict of Interests Law.

      It also aims to familiarize them with the objectives, terms of reference and authority of the Institution and working methodology and its relationship to those subject to its supervision and the obligations of all parties in accordance with the two laws mentioned above.

—Ends/MN/FS

Catalyst in industrial development

How successful Sharakah has been in creating the right entrepreneurial ambience in Oman?

The creation of the Fund for Development of Youth Projects also known as ‘Sharakah,’ by Royal Decree, was a major milestone that reflected the country’s encouragement and commitment towards Omani entrepreneurs.

At Sharakah, we offer equity support to Omani enterprise, extend term loan, guide the entrepreneur in setting up and doing business. The small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are strategic asset for the Omani economy and thus they need to be promoted in the right way. We also help in identifying the entrepreneurial opportunities in today’s scenario.
Out of the many projects that we have funded in the past few years only one has failed.

Three projects are doing exceptionally well and have repaid the full loan. One of them has come back again for further support. Five projects have been established recently and they are doing fine. Five projects are doing okay and honouring their commitments but there are some operational difficulties which we hope will be resolved. Nine other projects are also successful in their respective sectors. Some of the real success stories include a project in Samayil which deals in construction equipment. Another, a tiles and interlock factory in Sur and Mazoon Environmental Services in Muscat have also scripted excellent success stories, thanks to Sharakah.

How can we create the right environment for SMEs?
Absence of a clear-cut definition and objective norms for the SMEs in Oman is one of the challenges facing the SME sector here. If we take the general norms of SMEs in Europe and the United States, 60 to 70 per cent of companies which exists in Oman come under that criteria. There are very few companies that employ more than 500 employees, except for some construction and oil companies. If 60 per cent of our businesses fall under SMEs, why are we bothering to promote them, as they are already successful. So, we need to redefine the definition of SME.

The circular issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry recently specified new criteria to define SMEs including micro businesses. This will play a role in developing a better environment for the SMEs by getting a better understanding of the market size.
Though the government has an active role to play but it will not be fair to put the entire onus on them. One thing is sure, the government needs to do away with the bureaucratic red tape and I suggest that a single window clearance agency should be instituted for dealing with SME projects. The private sector should pitch in more vigorously by doing their bit in helping the SMEs to grow.

Another important point I would stress is that we need to have some of the professional businessmen, may be accountants, lawyers, and others as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, offer their help to give services to SMEs at subsidised rate.

How do you ensure Omanisation in SMEs?
While we very much support businesses that create more opportunities for locals, we don’t place that as a condition. There are a number of challenges with Omanisation and if we were to apply harder rules, we would end up just making it more challenging for SMEs.

Sharakah very much support local business owners and concentrate on building their capacity by providing continuous guidance, mentoring and follow up. We monitor the operation, the financial cash flow and the markets of which our clients operate.
In line with the changes in the country, what are Sharakah’s future plans?

The board met recently and approved a five-year plan where we hope we would be able to promote Sharakah a bit more than in the past. We hope to support more entrepreneurs, expand the limits for each of the areas we have identified, cast the net a little wider so that more people participate in the business endeavours. We have effected some management changes and now we have a very competent, young general manger who understands the industry well. We have over RO8 million as our capital and reserve and we are using that to fund the projects.

So, in order to support the office of Sharakah we need to make sure that we need to have a certain amount of fund in order to sustain ourselves. We are looking at other investment opportunities. We have some business houses who are interested to do something for the SME sector but they do not have the experience, expertise and time, but they want to demonstrate that they are playing a part in promoting the SME sector. We have requested such businessmen to join hands with us for the benefit of the sector.
What kind of mentoring, social networking and other value additions
do you offer to your partners?

We do our own advertising for Sharakah and try to highlight one of the prospective entrepreneurs/ assisted projects in our advertisement. It really helps them. We have a wide network of supporters who actually funded Sharakah from day one and what we do is mix and match. Say, for instance, if Sharakah assisted tile and block companies need to sell their products and we connect these companies with our supporters/shareholders (who have contracting divisions) to help them to liase with contractors and request them to consider these companies for orders. Some of our associates, like Deloitte Abu Timam (Grant Thornton) provide advisory services free or at much discounted rate. We are slowly growing our social network channels through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. We are not just an organisation where we lend money and say, ‘thank you’. Therein lies Sharakah’s goodwill and success.

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Batinah highway plan replaced find ‘justice’

Muscat: The emanate of purported inconsistency in remuneration to a adults who were replaced as partial of a Batinah coastal highway plan stays unsolved, with a dissolving of a Supreme Committee for Town Planning.

Some adults have been angry about “injustice in a remuneration volume for their houses and farms as well-, claiming that a remuneration is not adequate to build a house, forcing many people to steal income from friends or banks.

This emanate and a resource of supports value will be discussed by a Minister of Housing, Saif Al Shabibi, when he meets Shura members today.

The Supreme Committee for Town Planning had denied allegations of inconsistency in compensation, stressing that they had conducted a box investigate of any particular and a skill that they owned
before determining on a remuneration amount.

An central from a cabinet has insisted that “there is
neither difference, nor disposition shown towards people while allocating a compensation.-

Times of Oman had published an essay patrician ‘Discontent over compensations’ on Feb 26, highlighting a Batinah coastal highway remuneration issue.

It might be remarkable that a supervision has supposing 2,200 houses to those who were influenced by this project. The cost of any residence is approximately RO50,000.

Officials pronounced a supervision would take into comment a area of their progressing houses and a series of influenced families and individuals, while determining on a remuneration amount.

According to a preference of a Supreme Committee for City Planning, people who have been replaced would be given a residence built nearby a coastal highway in an rural land owned by another citizen, as stipulated in a Royal Decree on Property Expropriation for Public Interest No(64/78).

The design of a Al Batinah coastal highway plan is to rise a Batinah seashore waterfront. This will minister to traveller growth and move in growth to tiny coastal towns.

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Municipal Council polls move hailed

Muscat: Omani citizens have welcomed the move to hold Municipal Council elections, a first for the country, saying the Sultanate is making steady progress towards widening civic participation in decision making.

The announcement was made last week by Minister of Interior Sayyid Hamoud Bin Faisal Al Busaidi. While the date for the elections will be announced later, the nomination process will start on May 19 and end on May 30. Municipal Council elections are likely to be held during the fourth quarter of 2012.

Establishing Municipal Councils in the various regions has been a long-standing demand, especially since the Governorate of Muscat was the only region in the Sultanate with an appointed Municipal Council consisting of senior government directors and community leaders.

The call for elected Municipal Councils gained momentum in the beginning of 2011 which contributed to issuing of Municipal Council Law promulgated by Royal Decree 16/2011, and its detailed Executive Regulations promulgated by Minister of Diwan of Royal Court decision 15/2012.  

Khalid Al Haribi, political analyst and managing director of Tawasul, an independent think tank, said, “The 11 Municipal Councils in the 11 governorates mean widening civic participation in decision making. The upcoming Municipal Councils elections mean that citizens have a voice in local issues, in addition to having a voice in national issues through our parliament, Majlis Oman.-Â 

He said the culture of Municipal Councils as a means of political participation is an evolving concept in Oman, so there is still a wide feeling that there should be a more effective awareness campaign about the significance of this new shift. 

“Municipal Councils were announced in late 2011. Therefore, there has been an ample time for the society to familiarize itself with its terminology, but of course not with its concepts and functions,- Al Haribi added. 

As per the Municipal Elections Law promulgated by Royal Decree 116/2011, a candidate must be an Omani national, not less than 30 years old and enjoy a good reputation in his or her wilayat to participate in the elections.

Besides, he or she must not have been convicted of a crime (unless she or he has been exonerated). It is also important that he or she should also have an acceptable level of knowledge and appropriate work experience apart from being a registered voter in his or her wilayat.

He or she should not to be a member of State Council or Shura Council, or an employee in a government administrative unit.
 
Explaining the structure, Al Haribi said, “As the Sultanate consists of 11 governorates that have a total of 61 wilayats, there will be 11 Municipal Councils. The Municipal Council will consist of representatives of each wilayat according to the number of Omanis in the wilayat.

Two municipal council representatives will be elected to represent a wilayat which has more than 30,000 Omanis, four representatives from wilayats with more than 30,000 Omanis, and six representatives from wilayats with more than 60,000 people.

“For example, the Salalah wilayat will have six representatives in Municipal Council of the Governorate of Dhofar because it has more than 600,000 Omanis,- Al Haribi explained.

“Decisions on local levels will gradually become more decentralized and in the hand of those who are in the wilayat.

The elected members of the Municipal Council have the right to make decisions and recommendations in three committees/areas: health, social, and environment committee; general affairs committee; and legal affairs committee.

“The decisions and recommendations of the Municipal Councils are referred to the Minister of Interior, or relevant ministers for review and comments, in order for their implementation. 

In case of any disagreement regarding these Municipal Council decisions and recommendations between the Municipal Council and the relevant minister, a final decision is made by the Council of Ministers,- Al Haribi said. 

“The highlights of the new Municipal Council will include formal decentralization of decision making at the local level. Besides, a checks and balances system is being considered for the fact that decisions need to be discussed between Municipal Council and the relevant ministry.

The law clearly aims to prevent any Municipal Council member’s violation, conflict of interest or abuse of power,- he added.

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Consumer rights

By Fahmi Al Harthy, Editor-in-Chief — THE Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP) works to ensure Omani markets work for the benefit of consumers. Where vulnerable consumers are at risk, the authority takes prompt action to tackle the problem.
The PACP works with consumers and businesses to develop practical, helpful solutions, whether it’s an issue around inflated prices, self-label goods, counterfeit products, or consumer safety. The aim is to develop a world-class consumer protection regime in Oman.
However, it is a fact that few big corporate houses and hypermarkets control the market, especially in the foodstuff sector and instead of engaging constructively with the consumers and the PACP, they continue to engage unhelpfully. They are playing a dirty game, ignoring larger interests of the consumers.
The PACP faces an adverse campaign led by some businessmen, among them former officials, with well-known vested commercial interests seeking to strip the PACP of its powers and prerogatives.
The PACP is performing its duty as best as it could and it receives the respect and appreciation of the public. The authority is in need of full support from citizens and residents to help play its constructive role as per the laws and rules that gave rise to its inception in the first place.
Oman offers a highly lucrative market for the businesses. They need to respect consumers’ rights whether it relates to information about the manufacturer and origin of products, their contents, or prices.
It is important to realise that those days when there was hardly any supervision are gone for good. It’s an altogether different scenario now. The country has a watchful press, in addition to the very active PACP to examine each and every aspect of the markets.
It is now time to establish consumer co-operative societies as a solution to end monopoly practised by some traders. In fact, such societies need to be set up in all governorates to fight unfair and monopolistic practices of the traders.
It is up to consumers to choose between concessionary prices provided by co-operative societies and the high prices at the market. In the past many traders were in the habit of increasing the prices of food items and other necessities. They applied manipulation and tricky ways in their pursuit to make higher profits.

Co-operative societies can put an end to traders’ greed and curb high cost of living. They can be quite effective in making sure that there is fair play in the markets. In this way, the many years of suffering of consumers can be brought to an end. The consumers are fed up with malpractices by traders and it is time for them to enjoy reasonable prices that match the income of salaried people.
There is no doubt that the Public Authority for Consumer Protection has been trying to play an active role since its inception and has taken several steps. A case in point is that it prohibited marketing and sale of herbal medicines, products and equipment without prior approval from the Ministry of Health.
The authority said the restrictions were based on the Consumer Protection Law issued by a Royal Decree in 2007.
The PACP also banned low quality saffron, import of water heaters from a UAE-based firm and herbal medicines of a particular company.
In recent times, the reach of PACP has strengthened with the opening of nine more branches, including, Salalah, Sur, Ibri, Nizwa, Ibra, Rustaq, Sohar, Khasab and the Buraimi Governorate.
In January this year, the authority launched a new outdoor and media campaign, targeting consumers not to buy fake products and urging traders to safeguard consumers’ rights.
Through the campaign, the authority also wanted to educate consumers about their rights and urged people to make use of the new call centre services (80077997 or 80079009) and inform the authority of any malpractice.
Alternatively, consumers can visit the website (http://www.omanconsumer.org) where complaints and suggestions can be posted. The Website can receive suggestions and complaints along with feedback related to all consumer issues. Once the consumers are educated and they shun using counterfeit goods, and lodge complaints with PACP, the traders will be discouraged from stocking and selling these sub-standard items.

PACP sounds tough on counterfeit products

By Samuel Kutty — MUSCAT — The Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP), in its efforts for fair trading practices, sounds tough on the sale of unsafe and counterfeit products on the Omani market. The Authority has launched outdoor and media campaigns cautioning traders and consumers against the illegal trade apart from its call centres, where complaints can be lodged against any such malpractices.
Despite strict laws under Royal Decree 81/02, 26/2011 and ministerial decision 49/07, consumers in Oman fall victims to unscrupulous trade practices. “The responsibility for a fair marketplace where safe products and services make their way to consumers should be shared equally by the authorities, business communities and consumers”, says Dr Tariq al Busaidi, a leading advocate in Oman.
Through regular inspection, investigation, enforcement and public education, and also through continued proactive interaction, numerous consumer issues can be solved. The consumer protection law, clear in its intent, achieves the purpose it was meant to serve through the consumer protection organisations which are its messengers. “The law has come as a panacea for consumers all over the country and has assumed the shape of practically the most important legislation enacted in the country during the last few years”, says Dr Tariq.
With the issuance of the Royal Decree, consumers are in a position to declare “sellers be aware” whereas previously the consumers were at the receiving end and generally told “buyers be aware”, he says.
The commercial section of Dr Tariq al Busaidi Consultancy Bureau has specialized advocates to deal with laws relating to such grievances.
But the illegal trade has reached such proportions that legitimate businesses and government revenues have been hit by it.
Studies estimate that the global trade of counterfeit goods exceeds $600bn annually. There are no
specific studies on trade of counterfeit products in the Middle East, except the knowledge that they galore in the marketplace.
The Consumer Protection Law requires that every commercial establishment upholds the principle of protecting their consumers’ interests through providing quality services or products.

According to Omar Faisal al Jahadmi, Director General of Consumer Services and Marketing, PACP, “majority of the cases received are regarding inflated prices of products.” The Authority had opened branches in Salalah, Sur, Ibri, Nizwa, Ibra, Rustaq, Sohar, Khasab and the Buraimi governorate, This, according to him, had strengthened the authority’s vision and reach to the people.
“The campaign addresses traders and asks them to be helpful to consumers. We are asking them to be fair as reasonable profit sustained over a period of time is healthier than making a killing in a short period,” he says.
At the same time genuine traders complain that their business has affected badly with the onslaught of counterfeit products on to the market.
“Many customers are unaware of the dangers involved in the fake items. Also they are unable to distinguish between the genuine and counterfeit products. Often they go in for cheap products”, says Nitin Govindan, a sales engineer with a computer firm in Ruwi.
Shabir K A, General Manager, Lulu Hypermarket, says: “We have thousands of products at our shelves. Our system of purchase guarantees quality as we source them from authorised dealers and distributors. Purchases from open markets can lead to end up being cheated”.
He asks consumers to be more cautious when buying baby foods from the open market.
The regulations under the Consumer Protection Laws ask for strict action against traders involved in violation; dealing specifically on areas of fraud, commercial imitation and counterfeiting, defective service and warranties.
Dr Tariq says: “Producing, manufacturing, offering or distributing toxic, counterfeit, state on spoilt goods, or practicing or attempting to practice deception, publicity or fraud to market such goods by means of advertisements, publications, posters, flyers or any other means are considered violation of the law”.
PACP is making all efforts to create awareness among consumers and traders while also taking action against those involved in the counterfeits trade.
According to Jahadmi, in some cases traders involved in the illegal trade were arrested and sent to jail.
PACP is empowered to issue punitive orders for violation which include fine of up to RO 5,000, close down of the commercial establishment, confiscate goods that are defective; and provide adequate compensation to the aggrieved consumer.

Graphic images mandatory on cigarette packs from August 9

By A Staff Reporter — MUSCAT — Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, issued a ministerial decision approving the Gulf Technical Regulation No 246/2012 requiring graphic images to be placed on cigarette and tobacco packages. The decision enshrines these images as obligatory under Omani standard specifications for items covered by health, safety and environment guidelines. Article 2 of the
decision spells out penalties for defaulters, as set out under Royal Decree 1/78 and the Consumer Protection Law. Article 3 of the decision cancels all previous decisions that conflict with the provisions of the decision. Saleh bin Mohamed al Zedjali, Director of the Specifications Department at the Directorate-General of Specifications and Standards, said: “This decision will be applicable starting from August 9, 2012 in all the GCC countries.”
The regulation, which Oman helped draft, will go a long way in combating tobacco use in the GCC region, he said, adding that it is aimed at protecting the health of consumers. It has been enacted in accordance with the recommendation of the GCC Health Ministers, he noted. The measures will be incorporated into the working plan of the Gulf Technical Committee for Food and Agricultural Products and the Gulf Technical Sub-Committee for Food Labelling.
“The graphic images are mandatory on cigarette packs with effect from August 9, 2012. It will feature the effects of smoking illustrated by pictures of burning fingers, impact on the health of the embryo. Tobacco used for water pipes (hookah) will feature a line warning “Hookah is more dangerous than what you think’.
Once in effect, tobacco importers will no longer be able to distribute that do not comply with the new regulations. The Ministry will give distribution an opportunity to clear their existing stocks within a reasonable period of time. At present, three companies currently import all brands of cigarettes into the Sultanate.
“The Gulf Technical Regulations require that health warnings and other statutory information must be provided on tobacco packs, cigarettes, sweetened tobacco, fruit flavoured tobacco, tobacco derivatives, snuff tobacco, mixed tobacco for pipes, cigars, Tuscany cigars and the Cigartos,” he added.