COVID-19 Supreme Committee

COVID-19 Supreme Committee Decision of 15 April 2020

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Note: The following text is a public domain translation published by the Official OmanVsCovid19 Twitter account.

Statement of the Supreme Committee

A package of facilitations to support the private sector and its workforce

The Supreme Committee for Dealing with COVID-19 has approved, within the framework of its permanent meeting, a package of facilitations to support the private sector and its workforce. This package has been reached to through an agreement between the competent government agencies and the private sector, through representatives of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Accordingly, the private sector institutions and companies are obligated to maintain the continued work of the Omani employees and not to terminate their services. It also provides a number of facilitations that support the sustainability of the work of the companies and institutions of the private sector and enhance their ability to adapt to the current exceptional conditions resulting from the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) locally and globally.

According to the package, those institutions and companies must re-format the work system, use modern technology and work remotely to limit the pool of the workforce, and ensure that adequate spaces are provided between employees in the workplace and the workforce housing. That is to protect the health and safety of the employees. Furhtermore, employees in the private sector are entitled a full salary leave during the period of institutional and domestic quarantine, provided that the termination of the quarantine period is proved by a certificate issued by the competent authority.

Obligations of the private sector companies and institutions towards the Omani employees:

1. Not to lay off Omani employees.

2. They are entitled to offer annual paid leaves to their employees in sectors that have been closed.

3. Companies may negotiate the reduced wages to employees for a period of three months in exchange for reduced work hours after exhausting employee’s paid annual leave days in full, provided that this is applied-if necessary- as of May 2020.

A number of facilitations have been also introduced to support Omani employees whose wages are reduced, including:

1. Postponing the repayment of bank loans and various financing loans due to them during the period of reducing wages, and rescheduling loans without interest or additional fees.

2. Postponing the payment of electricity, water and wastewater bills until the end of June 2020, and providing an installments schedule for the amounts due later.

3. The provision of a National Fuel Support Card to some employees according to their income category.

Obligations of the private sector towards the non-Omani employees:

1. There should be an agreement between the private sector’s institutions and companies and their employees with regard to the payment of their wages.

2. Affected private sector institutions and companies are entitled to offer annual paid leaves to their employees in sectors that have been closed.

3. The affected private sector institutions and companies are urged to end the contract of the non-Omani employees permanently.

Facilitations provided by the government to private sector institutions and companies:

I. Facilitations provided by the Ministry of Manpower:

1. Reducing the fees for renewing non-Omani workforce cards as of today until the end of June 2020; the fees are reduced to RO 201 instead of RO 301. The expired cards for institutions and companies that have Omani workforce and owners of SMEs registered in Social Insurance may be renewed.

2. Exempting from fees and fines related to the work permits for the non-Omani workforce, provided that they leave the Sultanate permanently.

3. Allowing employers to renew expired work permits for employees currently outside the Sultanate during this period, and exempting them from the penalties resulting therefrom, after coordination with the competent authorities. 4.Extending the period of licenses for non-Omani workforce expiring during this period.

5. Initial work permits may be issued for non-Omani workforce for partial or temporal use; fees shall be charged based on the number of workers needed by the institution.

6. Multiple institutions owned by the same partners may assign their employees to work in any of these institutions when necessary.

7. The private sector institutions may use the workforce of other institutions to work in their facilities according to a written agreement between them.

8. Allowing affected private sector institutions and companies to terminate their non-Omani workforce labor contracts, provided that they pay all employees’ dues and let them leave the Sultanate permanently.

II. Facilitations by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry:

1. Continuation of the issued fees exemption on the renewal of the commercial registration from this date until the end of June 2020 for all institutions and companies.

2. Allowing service institutions, which provide their services to large institutions or individuals, to operate according to the precautionary measures determined by the competent authorities.

3. Adopting precautionary measures in factories so that the committed factories are allowed to resume operation.

Facilitations Package includes:

Exemptions of licensing renewal fees and fines for private sector institutions and companies for a period of three months from the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, the Ministry of Tourism and the Public Authority for Consumer Protection

III. Government Projects:

1. Government sectors and companies shall be committed to continue the contracts signed with private sector institutions and companies in the field of services.

2. Flexibility in extending the period of government projects completion carried out by the institutions and companies affected by the closure and exempting them from the fines and fees resulting therefrom.

IV. Facilitations by the Public Authority for Social Insurance:

1. Allowing business owners, the insured Omanis working abroad registered in the social insurance system and the like, and the insured persons registered in the social insurance system who are self-employed and the like, to postpone the due payment of the monthly contributions for March, April and May until the end of June 2020. provided that these contributions are paid in one installment before the end of the aforementioned date or in installments, as will be detailed later.

2. Exemption from the fines that will result from the delay in paying the due contributions for March, April and May 2020 or that result from the delay in registering their Omani employees or the notification of the end of their services during the same period, noting that this exemption does not include the fines imposed for any month preceding the months indicated in this item.

3. Implementing the following installments procedures and controls that are mentioned herein temporarily, from March to the end of August 2020: Non-calculation of the installment interest determined at a rate of (3%) when business owners request the installment of due contributions for the period referred to in this item, and the installment shall be paid monthly, not exceeding 24 installments, provided that these installments are paid in a continuous period from the date of starting the installment. The employer may submit a request for rescheduling the installment, provided that this is a one-time payment in each installment and not exceeding eighteen installments, and the original installment period shall be extinguished upon rescheduling and it is allowed to request rescheduling after the payment of installments is due.

V. Energy and Water Sector:

1. Postponing the payment of the electricity and water dues for a period of three months for the affected institutions and companies. The affected SMEs shall be allowed to pay these dues later in installments.

The National Fuel Support Card shall be given to the low-wage Omani workforce in the private sector temporarily until the end of the impacts of the current closure.

On March 18, 2020, the Central Bank of Oman announced other facilitations for private sector institutions and companies, including:

1. Emphasis on facilitating loans for affected sectors, including the health care, private education and travel and tourism sectors, as well as facilitating the granting of emergency loans.

2. Directing banks, finance and leasing companies to respond to the requests of postponing the payment of installments and interest/profits for affected clients for a period of three months, especially for SMEs and any party affected by the current situation.

3. Flexibility in dealing with loans related to financing government projects, as well as not introducing any new fees.