Oman rejects proposal to tax expats’ remittances

According to an official, the proposal to impose a tax on remittances by expatriate workers to their respective countries has been rejected by the economic committee of the State Council.

“The proposal emanating from the Majlis Al Shura of Oman to impose a tax on remittances by expatriates was rejected at the State Council,” Salim bin Said Al Ghatami, the head of the economic committee at the State Council, told the Times of Oman.

“It is not the right time to impose a tax just on working expatriates.  It’s not practical.  It doesn’t go well with the trade practices,” he added.

Al Ghatami said it was felt that imposing the tax would also affect future investment in Oman.

“Imposing such a tax on a certain category of expatriates doesn’t meet the international agreements signed by the Sultanate with other countries.  It will also affect investment prospects in Oman,” he said.

Al Ghatami said the government should find ways of encouraging expats to spend money in Oman, rather than taxing any outflow of money.

“The imposition of tax should be examined by expert committees before it is implemented,” he added.

The recommendations of the economic committee will now be forwarded to the higher authorities.

In November, the economic and financial committee of the Shura Council, a consultative body, recommended Oman should tax the billions of dollars which foreign workers send back to their home countries every year. It was proposed that the tax should be set at 2 percent.

The proposed tax would have affected about 1.5 million migrant workers, mostly from south and southeast Asia, who send money home from Oman.

It was estimated that the tax would have added $155m to Oman’s coffers.

Oman set to offer amnesty for illegal expats

A government spokesperson informed that expatriate workers who have overstayed their visa in Oman will soon be offered an amnesty.

Speaking to the Times of Oman, Talib Al Dhabari, head of media at the Ministry of Manpower, told the Times of Oman that overstaying expats or those who have been stuck in Oman will be offered an amnesty in the near future in order to regulate the Sultanate’s labour market.

“An amnesty for overstaying workers will be announced soon. This will help in regulating the labour market in Oman,” Al Dhabari said.

“It will help the undocumented and stranded expatriate workers to fly back to their home country without facing any legal action,” he added.

No date has been set for the amnesty, which is expected to help expat workers from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India.

A previous amnesty offered at the end of 2009, which lasted until the start of 2011, helped over 60,000 overstaying workers to return home without facing any legal action. There have also been similar amnesties in 2005 and 2007.

Omani authorities put in place a new set of measures in April this year to help uncover undocumented migrant workers. Officials carried out raids on expat homes, put tighter controls on work permits and tenancy contracts, and placed more scrutiny of landlords and their tenants as part of the crackdown.