That finally Khazzan gas will begin flowing in a few weeks is good news. The Sultanate’s economy will get a boost once more gas begins to reach the market. The Khazzan field will initially go on-stream by producing 500 million cubic feet per day and the next phase expansion will begin yielding gas next year. The Sultanate has been judicious in tapping its resources and has been inducting the best of technology to extract natural resources in order to achieve highest efficiency and least damage to environment. Within the framework of the Ninth Five-Year Plan an elaborate strategy has been developed for implementation with the help international experts. The Council of Ministers has been pushing this strategy that focuses on diversification of the economy. Government ministers have emphasised the need to facilitate more investments aimed at diversifying the economy. The one-stop system of Invest Easy has been a big hit in channelling investments. There is no doubt that wise fiscal management has helped the Sultanate fare well over the choppy waters of international economic difficulties. The nation is expecting to grow by nearly 3 per cent next year despite global headwinds because of the planning success. The Sultanate’s leaders understand the importance of diversification for propelling the nation’s economy into the future. Economic wisdom suggests that diversification is the only way to sustain the nation during these days of tumult. Diversification implies the nation’s deliberate drift away from a predominantly hydrocarbon-based economy. Only a broader economic base can bring stability as oil prices keep fluctuating.
The government has identified manufacturing, tourism and logistics as the key areas of growth for the future. The 129 projects identified under the diversification programme focus on these sectors and are at various stages of implementation. The Oman Tourism Strategy aimed at increasing the contribution of tourism to the national gross domestic product to 9 per cent by 2040 is being implemented smoothly. Equally important is the health-care sector considering the Sultanate’s proximity to regions considered far less accomplished in terms of medical treatment facilities. Recent changes to investment regulations including from overseas investors are expected to trigger a quantum jump in industrialistation. The Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) has got approval from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for a new set of regulations that are expected to speed up the Sultanate’s march. The revised rules are expected to help 700 new projects to go on stream in three years generating 33,000 more jobs. Out of these, a good number of jobs will be for Omanis, going a long way in empowering the nation’s youth. PEIE chief executive officer Hilal Bin Hamad Al Hasani leaves no room for doubt about the urgency of bringing in more industries and diversifying the industrial base. With the ports in Duqm and Sohar going full steam ahead, the nation can expect a big boost in industrial production. Moreover, a single agency providing government services like issuing of licences, approvals and visas and processing registrations will facilitate faster industrialisation. It is noteworthy that PEIE is ensuring wider geographical distribution of industrial nodes that would help broad base the nation’s development.