(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) The third seminar on following up on the implementation of the decisions of the SME Development Symposium, which was held at Seih Al Shamikhat in the wilayat of Bahla in January 2013, was held at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel on Thursday under the auspices of H E Dr Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the seminar, Khalifa bin Said al Abri, acting CEO of the Public Authority for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises (PADSME), said that almost 90 per cent of the decisions which were taken during the Bahla SME Symposium have been implemented.
Abri also delivered a speech pointing out that the Ministry of Housing has allocated land plots in different parts of the sultanate, either for building business centres or land plots with usufruct agreements for entrepreneurs and owners of SMEs. ''In collaboration with a number of public organisations, not less than 10 per cent of the public purchases and tenders were allocated for the SMEs.''
During the seminar, a number of agreements and MoUs were signed for the loan guarantee program. An agreement was also signed between PADSME and the National Business Center for managing the incubators that will be established by the Authority in different parts of the sultanate. A third agreement for consultancy services was also signed.
The seminar also witnessed the launch of the mobile branch for PADSME and the Al Rafd Fund, which will render services and information related to starting business. ''This mobile branch will reach out to the areas that are far away from the head office of the Authority and Al Rafd Fund, so there is no need to ask SMEs to come to Muscat to get our services. We are also going to announce an SME card soon. These cards will be granted to SMEs so they can benefit from certain facilities from the government authorities and also from the private sector,'' Abri said.
The seminar included a presentation on the Entrepreneurship Award, which comes in response to the Royal Directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. The bi-annual award, which aims at promoting entrepreneurship culture and enhancing the performance and competitiveness of the small and very small enterprises, will be launched on July 9, 2014.
Abri said that financing or funding is no longer a big issue in Oman for SMEs. ''We have the Al Rafd Fund and a loan-guarantee program which is going to be expanded with seven more banks. Lots of SMEs will benefit from this.''
He added that the contribution of the SME sector to the GDP is currently 15-16 per cent. ''In our database we have over 6,000 SMEs registered with the Authority and the number is rising everyday. There are over 100,000 SMEs in the country,'' Abri ad