STRIKING A GOOD BALANCE

Oman 2017 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Dhafir Awadh Bader Al Shanfari, CEO of Omani Authority for Partnership for Development (OAPFD) about the impact of the PFD and promoting diversification.

Dr. Dhafir Awadh Bader Al Shanfari
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Dhafir Awadh Bader Al Shanfari is the CEO of the Omani Authority for Partnership for Development (OAPFD). Prior to his appointment as CEO in 2015, Dr. Al Shanfari was the Head of the Management Department at the College of Economics and Political Science of Sultan Qaboos University and is the first Omani academic to specialize in entrepreneurship policy. He was also the Co-Director of the Academic Innovation Assistance Program (AIAP) and a Member of the Committee for the National Small and Medium Enterprises Development Symposia. Dr. Al Shanfari completed his PhD at Deakin University, Australia, in 2011 and holds an MBA from Duquesne University in the US.

How do you assess the impact of the Partnership for Development (Offset) program on the current level of cooperation between multinationals and Omani companies?

PFD began in Oman in early 2000 as an offset program with the Ministry of Defence (MOD). After eight years, the program moved to the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and remained there until February 2014 when the Royal Decree no. 9/2014 was issued to form an independent public authority, tasked with the management and oversight of the PFD Offset program. The program no longer only applies to defence procurements but to all procurements by the defence and security apparatus as well as to civil infrastructure procurements by government Ministries and companies where the government holds more than a 50% stake. During 2016, OAPFD signed 10 PFD agreements with leading international defence and security companies and two civil agreements. Today, the authority has more than 15 PFD projects at various stages of development that vary from setting up joint ventures in the aviation industry; research centres to human resource development projects; and new projects in defence and security sector.

How would you define OAPFD's role in supporting the diversification of the Omani economy by channelling foreign investment?

The authority's mandate is to contribute to the economic diversification of the country that includes three specific missions; developing of Oman's security and defence capabilities, building of human capital and strengthening of the private sector. The PFD Program is an important governmental tool that we should benefit from in order to reduce dependency on oil as a primary income source for the country and to reduce Forex externalization in the future. The program will support local resources and Oman industry through the relationships formed with the foreign companies under the program. To this end, foreign companies that contract with the Oman government, or with a company in which the Oman government holds more than 50% of the shares, must invest part of the value of that contract back into the country either through ICV (Direct PFD) or indirect PFD strategic national projects. Within the country, it is the authority's core business to work with multinationals to identify both direct and indirect PFD projects that are to be carried out in Oman.

What is the significance of the Tanfeedh program and how important is cooperation between the public and the private sectors if the vision is to be achieved?

Tanfeedh is a national program that has as its aim the execution of a National Program for Enhancing Economic Diversification in the context of the Ninth Five-Year Plan (2016-20). The program model is based on the Malaysian experience and would involve all stakeholders, private and public, across the key sectors to identify the key projects, KPIs, and actions needed to achieve our five-year plan. This is an excellent model of the public private partnerships we encourage and want to see more of. We at the authority will strive to channel our PFD projects to support the outcomes of Tanfeedh and fully believe in the PPP model.

What are your plans for 2017?

OAPFD will continue to focus on achieving its ultimate objectives of contributing, through the PFD Program, in diversifying the national economy through three key objectives which are enhancing defence and security capabilities, human resources development and facilitating knowledge transfer, and strengthening the private sector. The overall strategy in implementing PFD in 2017 is to achieve PFD results, which will require a good balance between creating an awareness of PFD and also educating all 39 Omani Units that have to apply PFD, all international contractors as well as the wider audience, of beneficiaries of PFD. Also establishing appropriate systems for coordinating with all the procuring agencies and thereby ensuring the implementation of PFD whilst at the same time increasing the database of commitments to be discharged and translating PFD commitments into productive and sustainable projects within the mandate and objectives of the authority.