Oman’s minister of manpower has reportedly agreed with calls from two members of the country’s Shura Council to retain a two-year visa ban for expat workers.
Under existing rules, foreign workers in the country who cannot obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their employer when leaving their job cannot return for two years.
Recently there have been calls for the law to be changed after complaints that companies were abusing the NOC system.
“We urge the ministry to keep the two-year visa ban rule to protect Omani business owners of SMEs” Shura member Mohammed Al Badi said yesterday, according to Times of Oman.
In response the minister of manpower, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Bakri, said he shared this opinion but the police and other authorities were directing the plans.
Many Omani businessman and at least one member of Oman’s Chamber of Commerce also support the retaining of the restriction, according to the publication.
However, trade unionist Mohammed Farji said the ban was hurting expats.
“This law keeps a worker bonded to the company. If a worker has completed his job contract with a company, he should be allowed to join a new company without any hassles,” he was quoted as saying.
Ahmed Al Hooti, a member of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry called for the NOC system to stay with certain clauses.
“If we scrap it totally, workers will jump from one company to another, posing a threat to his previous company. He can even start a business and become a threat to his previous employers. So, NOC should stay,” he said, according to Times of Oman.
“However, if somebody has put forward a genuine reason to move to a new firm, after completing his two-year job contract, he should be given the NOC. He should not be held back and placed in trouble.”
Oman is currently in the process of reforming its labour law as the country tackles difficult economic conditions.
The government is expected to introduce a number of austerity measures this year to reduce its deficit, which is forecast at OMR3bn ($7.79bn)