Muscat: Oman’s deputy secretary general for the Supreme Council for Planning deemed the efforts made at the Public Private Partnership Forum an overwhelming success.
HE Talal Al Rahbi, deputy secretary general for the Supreme Council for Planning, said that the forum which ended on Tuesday “had wide participation from government bodies and private companies, and aimed to exchange experiences on Public-Private Partnership as well as showcase some development projects that are open for partnership opportunities. ”
“His Excellency called for enacting the partnership between the public and private sectors in a way that serves the government’s plans, which can be done by implementing some of the projects which are part of the current and future Five Year Plans,” according to a statement issued by the Supreme Council for Planning.
Explaining that the current Five Year Plan is “proof of the government’s hopes for real partnerships between the public and private sectors, as the private sector can maximise efficient use of government resources and create jobs,” the statemnet added.
Tuesday’s panel discussions focused on financing options for PPPs such as via Islamic banking, and the second session explored Omani partnership programmes, whereas the third showcased investment opportunities in Oman.
The second day’s panel discussion started with the topic “Project Financing in PPP”, moderated by Ali Al Shihhi Loay Ghazaleh, advisor to the undersecretary of the Ministry of Works in Bahrain, said: “Strategic planning and integration of government departments and procurement processes has to be backed up by innovative financial mechanisms. This can leverage the necessary private funding to support large-scale transformation.”
Mohsin Shaik, senior executive manager at Maisarah’s Investment Department, believes that using Islamic bonds could help the government finance their projects at cheaper costs.
Shaik said: “Financing projects uing Sukuk [Islamic bonds] is cheaper, has greater transparency, taps a wider investor base, promotes good business practice and also works as an alternative means of funding for infrastructure projects.
Fida Rana, the cofounder of Yatrib Advisory Inc, believes that Islamic financing “offers additional sources of finance to meet the huge financing deficit for infrastructure projects in emerging market and developing economies.”
During the last full panel discussion on ‘PPP participation and future’, moderated by Fatema Al Araimi and Khalid Al-Yahmadi, the CEO of ASAAS spoke about some Omani models in partnerships, including the Hilton Garden Muscat, Institute of Public Administration, Al-Sharq Project, Al Hafa Project and SalamAir.
He said, “Public sector companies should be an enabler of the private sector, and it is important for them to enhance contribution to the economy.”
David Baxter, an advisor from the USA, spoke about how Oman’s newly legislated Privatisation and PPP Laws (Royal Decrees 51/2019 and 52/2019), which is based on international best practices and regional experiences, have the potential to enhance Oman’s appeal as a competitive investment destination.
During the panel discussion, Azan Al Busaidi, the CEO of Ithraa, said that Oman is an attractive destination for investors.
He said: “Oman has many features that make it an attractive destination for investments. These include - a strategic location close to emerging markets, a promising economy for business opportunities and a pleasant environment for residence, work and tourism.”
According to Jeff Yousef, the elements to attract investors are to ensure PPP laws are clear, that project pipelines are robust, that there is a suitable and transparent risk-sharing system, and to accept that investors need to make money.
After the last panel discussion, HE Dr Ali Al Hinai, undersecretary at the Ministry of Health for Planning Affairs, spoke about the upcoming ‘medical city’ project and how it will potentially changes the health sector in Oman.
Al Hinai said: “The idea is to bring all the hospitals under one umbrella, which will be made possible with the medical city.
“This way, services are delivered to the patient rather than the patient running from one place to another.
“Many opportunities for the private sector will arise with the development of this medical city, such as providing health facilities and shopping centres, residential buildings and recreational facilities,” he added.
Salah Al Hadabi, head of the Partnership Project Initiative at the SCP, discussed about the preparation of PPP Projects for this initiative.
Al Hadabi said: “The process of identifying PPP projects includes choosing 30 projects from the suggested ventures by the initiative’s team.
“These projects will be evaluated based on their importance, maturity, attractiveness for the private sector and operational efficiency.”
At the end of the forum, Al Rahbi recognised and honoured the efforts of all the parties that worked together to ensure that the forum ran smoothly, as well as the speakers of the panels of the forum.