The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) is responsible for the registration of commercial, industrial and mining activities and businesses in the Sultanate of Oman. However the manual registration procedures were complex involving many Directorates from within MOCI and approvals from other government organisations such as the Municipalities, Royal Oman Police, Ministry of Manpower, etc.
The lack of developed and modern electronic system to facilitate the inter-ministerial administrative works further aggravated the inefficient situations. Hence, due to complex workflow processes and bureaucratic red tapes, registration of a company may take several months before a commercial registration could be finalized.
Under the manual system, investors who wanted to set up a business would have to complete several registration forms manually. They would have to submit the completed forms together with many other supporting documents. Since, approvals for various types of related permits reside with other Ministry/Government Organisations, these made the process even longer and more tedious. Furthermore these approving authorities used their own internal databases, matching data entry and information became very cumbersome as different databases were used and there were lots of data duplication and errors.
In addition, the classifications of the businesses were not unified and standardised among all the ministries including the commercial licenses numbering. New documents were requested for registration of additional branches of an existing business resulting in duplications. There were no geographical classification for the Omani regions and governorates made accessible to all the governmental entities.
The investors registering their businesses had to visit different Ministries and Government Organisations which were time consuming and very inconvenience. There was no one single entity which the investors can go to and carry out all the necessary transaction for registering their businesses.
In the past, the investor had to wait for one month for the commercial registration application to be completed and had to visit each government entity separately in order to get the required approvals for the registration. In some cases, inspections have to be made before the issuance of the registration. In fact, the time required for each application in any concerned entity was two weeks minimum. As Oman is moving towards economic diversification with the Vision 2020 which emphasises on the shift from oil-based industries, it is crucial that a more efficient and effective way of registering commercial entities is implemented so as to attract foreign direct investment into the country.