OUTLOOK — By Ahmed Al Falahi — The development march in the Sultanate is witnessing new momentum and dynamics which are based on genuine knowledge of the requirements of progression rather than haphazard, uncalculated planning. Therefore, this motion acquires new dimensions at every stage of development in accordance with the emerging needs, thus producing seamless headway towards a brighter future by means of predicting what the next stage will be like catering to the aspirations of citizens and residents alike.
Development won’t be impounded within the framework of outdated programmes as there is a constant search for more effective programmes corresponding to the stages of socio-economic development, each of which accomplishes specific goals and lays the foundation for the next one, each stage of development requires a great deal of preparation coupled with clear visions.
The observer to this momentum notices the Royal attention and His Majesty’s keenness to closely follow up the development process over the last four decades and this is exactly what adds vitality to progress at all levels and in all fields. The progress that is taking place may not be as rapid as some people might wish, however it is gradual, comprehensive and espousing prudent visions.
The last few days have witnessed a number of Royal orders aimed at accelerating the development march and responding to the aspirations of the citizens. The effect of the Royal orders will be seen in long term strategies rather than a response to urgent needs.
The Royal directives pertaining to the cancellation of grade 5 came as follows “The Royal Decree cancels Grade 5 from the schedule of grades and salaries listed in the Civil Service Law promulgated by Royal Decree No 120/2004 and to rectify the impacts that the initiation of Grade 5 caused.
The Royal directives provide that Annex No 1 of the above-mentioned Civil Service Law shall be amended and that the current employees who were in service as at the date of enforcement of this amendment shall be transferred to the grades that correspond to their previous grades, with the same salaries and allowances.
The status of employees who occupy grades that correspond to Grade 5 in other systems shall be settled accordingly”.
His Majesty the Sultan also approved the financial costs necessary for the disbursement of differences in arrears with effect from the date of enforcement of the aforementioned law on January 1, 2006”
His Majesty the Sultan also issued a Royal Decree to “Exempt all borrowers of Oman Housing Bank who are registered as of date from all financial and administrative fees till completing the payment of the existing loans. And to reduce the banking and administrative services fees for the loans, as applied by the bank”
This is in addition to the Royal directives regarding the provision of 65,000 jobs of which 36,000 jobs should be in the civil and military apparatuses of the public sector and 20,000 jobs in the private sector.
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos also issued Royal directives to equalise the financial allowances of partial scholarship with full scholarship. The Royal directives benefit 340 students studying in Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Russia, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Morocco and Malaysia.
These Royal orders lay the foundation of the development programmes of the 7th 5-year development plan which is entering its third year within three months time with many scheduled programmes successfully completed so far. They also addressed the grievances and sufferings of society segments such as the students who are studying on their own outside the Sultanate, in line with His Majesty’s approach which always comes in favour of the citizens’ well-being.
Undoubtedly the Supreme Council for Planning and the National Centre for Statistics and Data set up by Royal decrees No 30/2012 and 31/2012, respectively, will make a significant contribution in providing information and solidifying planning of the gamut of the development activities.
The aim of the Royal orders was to address some aspects of development and to set some guidelines to be followed by the authorities concerned. The burden laid on these executive bodies is multiplying with each passing year especially with the projected population rise which will no doubt squeeze the services and increase the demand. Such a situation highlights the roles of both the Supreme Council for Planning and the National Centre for Statistics and Data.
Presiding over the first meeting of the Supreme Council for Planning, His Majesty the Sultan summed it all up, underscoring the importance of the Supreme Council for Planning in the current stage of the Renaissance in bolstering the role of all the production sectors.
There is no doubt that Royal attention accorded to all the development sectors won’t come to a halt as development is a never-ending process and its achievements know no limits because each stage comes with emerging demands and broader dimensions.