Oman’s Ministry of Manpower has extended the temporary ban on hiring expats to four more professions in the private sector as part of the Omanisation strategy. The ban will be extended for another six months starting from 5 August 2019 and will be extended to certain professions in the fields of IT, accounting and finance, sales and marketing, management and human resources, insurance, media, the medical profession, airports, engineering, and roles that involve technicians. The ban was specified in Oman Ministerial Decision No. 73/2019.
The Omani Government is considering a new Securities Law to help the securities market grow in the Sultanate. The draft is being reviewed by the Legal Affairs Ministry. It is expected to be approved and discussed by the end of the first quarter of 2020. If approved, there will be a Capital Market Law and a separate Securities Law. It will allow the roll-out of a diverse range of instruments for trading and investment in the securities market which will include derivatives such as swaps, forwards, futures, mortgage-backed securities and options. None of these can be traded in Oman at the moment. Trading in commodity derivatives, currency swaps, interest rate futures, credit default swaps, CFDs and international indices will also be allowed and Trusts will be introduced. They will provide a vehicle to Collective Investment Schemes. It will allow crowdfunding for small and medium enterprises to raise finance for their operations and growth.
Oman’s Sultan has issued five Sultani Decrees including a Decree approving the Bankruptcy Law. Oman Sultani Decree No. 53/2019 will be published in the Official Gazette and will come into force one year after its publication in the Gazette. It will repeal Book Five of the Sultanate’s Trade Law and anything else which contradicts or contravenes it will be repealed. The Commerce and Industry Minister will issue the relevant regulations and decisions to implement the law following input from other specialist departments.
Oman’s Capital Market Authority has announced it has launched a portal for registering potential directors. Interested professionals will need to register on the portal so as companies and shareholders looking to appoint professionals on their boards can visit the portal and view potential candidates who meet their business requirements. Family owned businesses and investment funds have also been urged to register on the portal.
Oman’s Manpower Ministry has announced a professional visa ban for sales and marketing professionals has been introduced. The ban is contained in Oman Decision No. 268/2019 and means the visa ban will continue for another six months from 31 May. It will not apply to visa renewals but will apply to new visa applications.
Oman’s Secretariat General for Taxation has announced selective tax will be introduced in the Sultanate on 15 June. It will apply to tobacco, pork meat and energy and soft drinks. 50% tax on soft drinks will be levied and 100% on tobacco, pork meat and energy drinks. Manufacturers, importers and those selling these goods in the country will have to pay the tax. By 14 June they will have to have to submit a declaration stipulating they deal with these goods. The tax will have to be paid by 30 June.
The UAE’s Federal Tax Authority has announced tax agents in the country must comply with the five professional standards for tax agents. It follows the publication of a new professional standards guide by the Authority. It provides a detailed explanation of the five standards and conditions tax agents must comply with. These standards are integrity, objectivity, professional competence, confidentiality and professional behaviour. The Authority can strike a tax agent off if they consider it appropriate. They must notify the agent within five working days of their decision and give the reasons. In addition, agents can only practise if they have been approved by the Authority and will be accountable to the Authority.
Oman’s Capital Market Authority has announced it has issued new Takeover and Acquisition Regulations. Oman Decision No. 2/2019 will apply to public joint stock companies listed on the Muscat Securities Market (MSM). It has been published in the Official Gazette.
Oman’s Sultan has issued three Decrees including a Decree establishing the Credit and Financial Information Centre. Under Oman Sultani Decree No. 38/2019, a Credit and Financial Information Centre will be established. It will report into the Sultanate’s Central Bank. It will be independent legally as well as administratively and financially. All of the assets, data and their systems from the Banking Credit Information Statistics Department and the Central Bank will be transferred to the new Centre. The Board of Governors of the Central Bank will issue the regulations and decisions necessary to enforce Oman Sultani Decree No. 38/2019. Until they do, the relevant Central Bank regulations and decisions will continue to be enforced unless it contradicts or contravenes the new Decree.
Oman’s Central Bank has issued a Bank Resolution Framework which sets out the recovery and resolution regime for the Sultanate’s banking sector. It will apply to all banks who are designated as important domestic banks by the Central Bank. The Bank at its discretion may apply all or parts of the framework to any other bank licensed by it. The aim is to prepare banks for self-recovery and in the relevant circumstances allow the authorities to help them with minimal disruption to them and the wider banking sector and at the lowest possible cost.
Oman’s Capital Market Authority has announced the new Companies Law. Oman Sultani Decree No. 18/2019 will be enforced from 1 April 2019 and Oman Law No. 4/1974 will be repealed. The Authority also announced they will be responsible for enforcing all its provisions, except the registration of listed companies. The new Law was issued through Oman Sultani Decree No. 18/2019. Under the Law, a holding company will take the form of a joint stock company unlike previously where a holding company could be a limited liability or joint stock company. A new Article on establishing professional firms has also been introduced and special rules for how they are regulated will be issued in due course as will the Implementing Regulations to the Law.
Elsewhere, Oman’s Sultan has issued a Decree approving the Selective Tax Law which will come into force 90 days after the issuing of the Sultani Decree. It will see tobacco product, alcohol, energy drink and pork product prices increase 100% and carbonated drink prices by 50%. Oman Sultani Decree No. 23/2019 will come into force in June 2019 and the Sultanate is the fifth GCC country to introduce it. Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have already introduced the tax.