A member of Omans’ Shura Council has reportedly described overseas remittances by foreign workers as a “hidden cancer to the economy”.
Times of Oman reports that Nasser Al Khamisi made the comments during a Shura session on Monday discussing remittances and black market money.
“The huge amount of money spent on overseas remittance is negatively affecting the Sultanate,” Al Khamisi was quoted as say8ing. “Why is remittance more than the workers’ salaries?”
He said around OMR4bn ($10.3bn) left the country in remittances each year, with some shopkeepers and farmers sending back more than OMR1,000 ($2,597) per month.
“They are wasted investment opportunities for Oman. It absorbs the country’s wealth as it makes a big chunk of the Oman budget,” Al Khamisi added.
During the session the country’ minister of manpower Nasser Al Bakri
said the country was preparing to launch a new database to stop black market money leaving the country.
He said it would track how much a worker earns each month compared to how much they send home to prevent cases of expats sending far more than their legal salary.
To date he said the programme had received a good response from the first group of companies asked to participate in 2015 and 2016, with 60 to 70 per cent providing wage information.
However, only 30 to 40 per cent of small and medium enterprises cooperated.
Al Khamisi suggested remittances would be reduced and jobs created if expats earning less than OMR600 a month were allowed to bring their families to the country and spend on transport, schools, hospitals and other services.
He also argued taxing remittances was a “good idea” but would not curb black market trading, according to the publication.