Muscat: His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik today presided over a meeting of the Council of Ministers at Al Barakah Palace.
At the outset of the meeting, His Majesty the Sultan gave thanks and praise to the Almighty Allah for the bounties of security and stability that He has bestowed on Oman and its people. He prayed to the Almighty to perpetuate these bounties and blessings on all citizens and residents on Oman’s lands, wishing all good health and wellbeing.
Then, His Majesty the Sultan reviewed domestic conditions. He commended the accomplishments made during the past year (2023) and expressed his satisfaction with the continuous improvement in financial, economic and social performance indicators. He stressed the importance of all government departments’ keeping up efforts to upgrade performance.
As part of his keenness to follow up the evaluation of government institutions’ performance in 2023, His Majesty the Sultan took note of an uptake in performance that promises the realization of goals, visions and aspirations in tune with developments.
His Majesty underscored the significance of the authorities’ improving their assessment of all indicators during this year (2024) and studying the areas of strength and weakness, with the prime aim of determining the best ways to address the potential challenges.
His Majesty the Sultan commended the efforts made by government institutions in their effort to perform the tasks entrusted to them, notably the units that received ‘high’ and ‘excellent’ performance evaluation.
His Majesty the Sultan also praised the role of the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) in meeting the State’s needs for statistics and information. He laid emphasis on government departments’ using the data provided by the NCSI as a springboard for planning, decision-making, evaluating government programmes and projects and measuring the impact of policies and plans to determine the degree of their effectiveness and gauge progress in achieving the desired goals.
Within the context of implementation of the provisions of the social protection scheme in 2024, His Majesty the Sultan stressed the importance of monitoring the system’s performance and all its programmes. He gave directives to evaluate its performance and accommodating social and economic developments, with special emphasis on further studying the needs of citizens, notably the segments that rely on the social protection system.
The Council of Ministers had directed the authorities concerned to prepare a national policy for local content with the aim of reducing imports and increasing exports. The Council endorsed the “National Policy for Local Content (2024-2030)”, which aims to develop a national system for regulating and monitoring local content in all sectors. In this context, His Majesty the Sultan stressed the importance of focusing on all target goals, notably generating more employment job opportunities for citizens, localizing industries, supporting entrepreneurs, encouraging small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups and cutting down the volume of foreign purchases to secure surplus in the country’s trade balance.
Given the need to promote the culture of local content in society, support, introduce and back the national product, the Council of Ministers gave green light to the “National Product Loyalty Programme”, which seeks to encourage consumers to go for Omani products and enhance the growth of local companies.
To further utilize the diversity of the governorates of Oman and its natural attractions, historical and cultural heritage, the Council of Ministers stressed the importance of governors’ focusing on tourist sites in their respective governorates and developing appropriate plans to host tourism activities and events that attract visitors to such sites throughout the year.
To enhance the role of the tourism sector in boosting the gross domestic product (GDP), generating local added value and providing employment opportunities for citizens, His Majesty the Sultan gave directives to set a timeframe for developing “Al Jabal Al Abyad” area and “Wakan” village. This includes providing necessary infrastructure and appropriate conditions for the development of the two areas due to their unique capabilities and their tourist attractions that qualify them to be major destinations for trips, camping and adventure tourism.
His Majesty the Sultan gave directives to review the roles of the authorities operating in areas of food safety, with a view to integrating these roles to ensure the effectiveness of relevant procedures. This was seen within the context of the Council of Ministers’ attention to food safety and related legislations, executive procedures aimed at ensuring the production, import, export, circulation and consumption of food products that are safe for the health of consumers.
In pursuance of the general trend regarding the streamlining of procedures, the business environment and the competitiveness of the national economy, the Council of Ministers approved the results of the third phase of the draft government services’ pricing guide. This includes cancelling, reducing, simplifying and merging of 411 fees. The Council also approved a proposal submitted by the authorities concerned with regard to the reduction of drinking water connection service fees for residential and non-residential units.
Upon his review of relations with Arab and friendly countries, His Majesty the Sultan pointed out that the visits and meetings that took place recently yielded good results. In this context, he stressed the Sultanate of Oman’s keenness to continue cooperating with members of the international community in accordance with the principles and constants of the country’s foreign policy.
At the conclusion of the meeting, His Majesty the Sultan touched on various aspects of concern to the nation and citizens and gave directives in this regard. He wished all continued success and progress, along with his sincere wishes for Oman and its loyal citizens. -ONA
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