Expat visa fees introduced by Royal Oman Police could add an extra than OMR16.8m ($43.5m) to Oman’s coffers each year, according to estimates.
The charge, introduced on the first day of this year, means companies must pay OMR20 ($52) to process new visas or renewals for all expatriate workers; a service that was previously free, with feeds only applicable for family members.
According to calculations by local media, using data from the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), the country’s 1.68 million expat workers could eventually generate OMR33.6m ($87m) by the end of 2017, or OMR16.8m ($43.5m) per year.
Quoted in local media, Oman Chamber of Commerce (OCCI) member Ahmed Al Hooti welcomed the new charges, but raised doubts that the extra income would significantly minimise the country’s budget deficit.
He said: “It’s been quite difficult to believe that such and amount will make a big change in the country’s financial budget, but at least it will have good impact on reducing the deficit of the country.”
Salim Al Ghammari, a Muscat Municipal Council member, is also quoted as saying: “The government should start charging more for its services, especially for expatriates.
“Many countries impose a higher fee for services provided for expats. That will reduce the dependence on oil revenue in the coming years.”
The Omani government is currently exploring ways to boost funds and ease pressure on the country’s domestic liquidity and interest rates.
Among other plan, the sultanate is reportedly seeking $2.6bn in foreign loans to combat its budget deficit of about $8.6bn for 2016.