The Special Economic Zone Authority Duqm (SEZAD) signed on Monday, June 29, 2015 a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Manpower to organize their cooperation in many areas as prescribed by the Royal Decree No. 79/2013 issuing the Regulation of the Special Economic Zone Duqm. The Royal Decree stipulated there shall be established in the Zone a manpower department to issue the necessary permits for foreign labor force expeditiously and efficiently efficiency provided that the period taken for issuing the permits does not exceed five working days from the date of application.
H.E. Yahya bin Said bin Abdullah Al-Jabri, SEZAD Chairperson, and H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al- Bakri, Minister of Manpower, signed the MOU.
Under the MOU, the parties agreed to issue regulations governing the licensing procedures of foreign labor recruitment for the establishments operating in the Zone by the Manpower Department. The SEZAD Board shall issue a decision of this Regulation in coordination with the ministry.
On the signing of the MOU. H.E. Yahya bin Said bin Abdullah Al-Jabri underlined its importance in coordinating the cooperation between the two sides in the areas of the labor force in Zone to contribute to overcoming the challenges facing the projects implemented there.
Al-Jabri stressed that the MOU provides for the expeditious issuing of licenses related to the recruitment of foreign work force in the Zone, as stipulated in the Royal Decree No. 79/2013. He stressed that the MOU aims to raise the competitiveness of the Zone through the services provided to the projects implemented there.
He pointed that SEZAD signed during the past few months a number of MOUs with the government units and as stipulated in Royal Decree No. 79/2013, commending the cooperation of various government units in this regard. SEZAD, he asserted, seeks to provide the best services to investors and overcome the difficulties they may face.
For his part, H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Bakri stressed that the Ministry of Manpower supports SEZAD in its quest to provide the best services to investors, stressing the importance of the MOU in overcoming the challenges facing investors.
Al-Bakri noted the importance of the Zone in attracting investments to the Sultanate and supplementing the government's efforts to diversify sources of national income and the provision of appropriate job opportunities for citizens.
The MOU stipulates that SEZAD shall notify the Ministry of the decisions issued SEZAD issues regarding foreign labor recruitment fees and Omanisation percentage so that the Ministry can consider the same upon performing its terms of reference.
The MOU states that SEZAD shall receive the licensing applications for recruitment of foreign labor by the projects registered in the Zone commercial register according to the approved forms for this purpose. SEZAD shall verify that the applications fulfil all the data and documents required and deliver the applicant a receipt. Then it shall forward the application on the same day to the Department together with its recommendation.
The Labor Department in SEZAD shall receive foreign labor procurement applications directly from natural persons and projects not registered in Zone commercial register, as well as applications for procurement of servants and the like.
SEZAD shall also receive the applications for the transfer of foreign workforce services from the customs territory or free zones in the Sultanate to the projects registered in Zone commercial register. SEZAD shall verify that the applications fulfil all the data and documents required and deliver the applicant a receipt. Then it shall forward the application on the same day to the Department. The Labor Department shall receive the applications for the transfer of foreign workforce services from the customs territory or free zones in the Sultanate from natural persons and projects not registered in Zone commercial register.
The MOU also provides that SEZAD shall set a maximum limit to the number of projects licensed to carry on the activity of procuring foreign workforce in the Zone, and shall review this periodically in the light of the Zone development and the growth of economic activities therein. It also stipulates that SEZAD shall inform the Ministry of Manpower in the case any of the establishments in the Zone commercial register desires to move to the customs territory so that the Ministry can apply the same conditions, fees, regulations, and laws applicable to all private sector enterprises without exception.
The MOU confirmed the need for the Ministry of Manpower to review license applications, and other applications referred to in the MOU and decide on them quickly, and in all cases issue the required licenses within five working days from the date of submission. The lapse of this period without deciding shall mean approval. In case of rejection, the decision must be justified. The MOU stressed that it is impermissible for expatriate workforce recruited within the Zone to move to work in the customs territory without obtaining a new license from the Ministry.
According to the MOU, SEZAD shall notify the Department with the projects ended, as well as companies, which ended their work in the Zone.
With regard to control and inspection within the Zone, the MOU stipulated that SEZAD work in coordination with the Ministry to develop a system for the inspection and control of economic activities in the Zone as to the commitment to Omanisation percentage and terminate the use of unauthorized foreign manpower. The Ministry shall supervise and inspect economic activities in the Zone in accordance with the provisions of the Labor Law, without prejudice to the provisions of Article (13) of the MOU, which states the expeditious deciding on license applications within a period not exceeding five working days.
The MOU also stipulates that the parties should cooperate to take the required action to limit the number of current expatriate labor in the Zone and adjust their status according to the agreed procedures between the two parties. The two sides shall also cooperate in the preparation and implementation of vocational training programs to supplement the Zone with its needs of Omani workforce in the numbers and disciplines required and, in particular, training and qualification of job seekers in Al-Wusta Governorate, in order to enhance their chances to benefit from the jobs introduced in the Zone.