Oman Investment Authority (OIA), the Sultanate’s integrated sovereign wealth fund, has reaffirmed that State-of-Enterprises (SOEs) operating under its auspices will not compete with the private sector.

OIA President Abdulsalam bin Mohammed al Murshidi emphasised the primacy of the private sector in driving the local economy, noting that state-owned businesses will ally with, rather than challenge, privately owned firms in the marketplace.

Explaining the Authority’s stand in this regard, Al Murshidi said: “OIA continues to allocate resources to each sector targeted by Oman Vision 2040 while focusing on cooperating and empowering the private sector.

Therefore, SOEs will not compete with the private sector if it proves its capability in performing on its own; if not, then OIA and its entities will offer their partnership. We believe that the most significant role in driving the Omani economy will be played by the private sector during the coming period.”

The official made the comments in an interview featured in the latest edition of Eejaz, the quarterly newsletter of the Authority. It comes on the first anniversary of the Authority’s establishment by Royal Decree on June 4, 2020, effectively bringing all sovereign wealth funds and state-owned assets (with the exception of the government’s stake in Petroleum Development Oman) under one all-encompassing banner.

Exemplifying the Authority’s approach to the empowerment of the private sector is the example of Muscat Stock Exchange (MSX), said Al Murshidi.

The restructuring and corporatisation of the erstwhile Muscat Stock Market “represent a tool for transferring the leadership of the economy from state-owned entities to the private sector”, he noted.

With a presence in nearly 36 countries, and with assets estimated by experts in the proximity of $17 billion, OIA has been given a robust mandate to fuel Oman’s economic diversification and sustain growth. These investments are distributed across diverse sectors and geographies.

Among its many achievements of the past year was the successful roll-out of the ‘Rawabet’ programme — a landmark initiative that seeks to strengthen governance of the SOEs, enhance productivity and cooperation between the entities, and boost their efficiency and ability to share resources available to them, whether in terms of human resources or fixed or moveable assets, said the President.

The Authority also leveraged the capabilities of state-owned subsidiaries to help mitigate the effects of the pandemic, notably by facilities supplies of essential commodities. Omani ports, for example, were prepped to handle the influx of direct imports in response to closures of airports and land borders.

Ferries were mobilised to ensure continuous linkages with the governorates, thereby providing ease of convenience in the movement of people and goods.

“Additionally, financial institutions under OIA, such as Oman Development Bank, played a significant role in implementing the Royal Directives to assist groups affected by the pandemic, including home-based businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),” Al Murshidi added.

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