His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tariq issued 28 Royal Decrees on 18 August 2020, marking the beginning of the long-awaited Oman government restructuring.

The newly issued Royal Decrees aim to decentralise the government, delegate Ministerial roles previously reserved for His Majesty himself, and ultimately reduce the number of Ministries in an attempt to create a leaner framework for the public sector in line with the governance objectives set out in Oman's Vision 2040.

These changes included the appointment of a new Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs, roles formerly held by the Sultan, as well as the re-establishment of the Ministry of Economy.

The Ministerial changes also included the establishment of the Ministry of Labour, which consolidated the former Ministry of Manpower, Ministry of Civil Service, National Centre for Employment and National Training Fund under one body. The Royal Decrees also combined the Ministry of Technology and Communication and Ministry of Transport to form the new Ministry of Transport, Communications, and Information Technology.

Coupled with the changes in the competencies of the new bodies are amendments to the names of the various Ministries. To name but a few, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry shall now be known as the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Investment Promotion, the Ministry of Housing is now the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning and the Ministry of Oil and Gas is now the Ministry of Energy and Minerals.

Notable amongst the newly issued Royal Decrees is Royal Decree 110/2020 which dissolved the Public Authority for Privatisation and Partnership (PAPP) and transferred its responsibilities to the Ministry of Finance (MOF). With Public Private Partnerships (PPP) being a major way in which Oman is likely to structure many of its future infrastructure divestments (with a number of PPP projects already in process under the authority of the now dissolved PAPP), the MOF's adopted approach will be a key factor in paving the privatisation agenda for Oman.

Ultimately, as the various Ministries adopt their new authorities and competencies, coupled with the various new appointments in the leadership of such bodies, a higher level of efficiency is anticipated. However, we expect it will take some time for the changes to filter through so that we can assess their true impact in practice. Please do contact us if you would like to discuss the recent changes.