Oman’s government officials have announced that more than 100,000 expat workers in the private sector will be replaced with Omanis to balance the employment market, according to the local media.
Minister of Manpower Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Bakri confirmed that the government is looking to reduce the Sultanate’s expat work force to 33 per cent from its current level of 39 per cent, the official news agency ONA reported.
The latest move will reduce Oman’s expat workforce number to 586, 272 from 692, 867, the report said.
Official figures reveal that expatriates still outnumber Omanis in the private sector despite the government’s nationalisation policies.
Out of 1,533, 679 private sector employees, Omanis constituted around 224,698 of the workforce while the number of expat employees rose to 1,308,981 as of 2013, according to the Ministry of Manpower.
Oman has been looking to raise the nationalisation rate in private sector firms after it feared an unsustainable rise in its public sector wage bill.
Officials predicted that the Sultanate’s public sector wage bill will rise by $2.3 billion this year following a royal order to standardise salaries and grades across the public sector.
However, a slowdown in state spending, according to the latest budget, is expected to reduce wage costs to an extent.
Oman sharply boosted expenditure between 2011 and 2013, spending on welfare programmes, public sector wages and job creation to ensure social peace after scattered street protests demanded more jobs and an end to corruption.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned the Sultanate against overt state spending and has urged the government to raise non-oil revenues to avoid continuous budget deficits.
Oman has also prioritised fiscal reforms and has fixed state spending this year at OMR13.5 billion ($35.1 billion), up just five per cent from the original plan in the 2013 budget.