Thursday, September 10, 2009

Spin by ONA, and a telling off for Essa!

Regular readers of the scintillating Times of Oman were treated to a special mid-week 'Viewpoint' OpEd piece from Chief Editor Essa Al Zedjali yesterday (Essa normally fills the front page with his thoughts on a Sunday). Earlier this week, indeed, Essa had expressed concern that the Omani Ministry of Health wouldn't be able to handle the costs and emergency care requirements of H1N1.

On reading his new piece, it seems the next day he was called up the Minister and told in no uncertain terms that everything totally under control and to stop criticising the Government. LOL.

Laudable govt efforts to reassure citizens
Essa bin Mohammed Al Zedjali
Wednesday, September 09, 2009 12:09:34 AM Oman Time

IN my Viewpoint column titled “Combating H1N1 requires huge funding” published last Sunday, I said that the “capabilities of the Ministry of Health for making available efficient treatment and extending all types of health facilities to citizens as well as residents to help them combat the disease effectively or extirpate it altogether do not seem sufficient as it requires huge funding for the medications, especially the vaccines and the establishment of new laboratories”.


In fact, I was glad to have a telephone conversation with Dr Ali bin Mohammed bin Moosa, minister of health, on Monday morning, during which I enquired as to how we source additional funds for combating the H1N1 pandemic. The minister replied reassuringly that the government of His Majesty the Sultan has, through the Ministry of Finance, made available whatever additional finance the ministry needs ....

In other news:
A laughable headline in this morning's Oman Observer, as all the local papers struggled to find the good news spin to describe Oman's performance in the World Bank Ease of doing business ranking report.

Bottom line facts:
Oman was ranked 65th out of 183 countries for overall ease of doing business, down 3 places from last year when we were 62nd.

We ranked 7th in the MENA region, up 1 place, but still worst of all the GCC countries.

More work to be done chaps.

Sultanate ranked top on Doing Business 2010: report
WASHINGTON — The Sultanate was ranked number six on the ‘Doing Business Index Report for 2010 among the Middle Eastern and North African countries.’ The report was published by the World Bank (WB) yesterday in collaboration with the International Financing Institution on its website.
According to the ranking which covered 183 countries from April 2008 to June 2009, the Sultanate was ranked sixty-five. It was ranked second on the Employing Workers’ and the third on Registering Property Index and the fourth on Paying Taxes Indices at the Middle East and North African countries.

The report ranked the Sultanate 39 as a High Income country out of 47 countries included on the list and ranked the 6th on the Middle East and North African countries level. Each country is ranked under ten indices, such as, employing workers, processing of work permits, registering property, protecting investors, paying taxes and inter-border trade.

Despite the many challenges, in 2008/2009 more governments implemented regulatory reforms aimed at making it easier to do business than in any year since 2004, when Doing Business started to track reforms through its indicators. Doing Business recorded 287 such reforms in 131 economies between June 2008 and May 2009, 20 per cent more than in the year before. — ONA


  1. While I applaud Ami Issa for issuing a 'correction' to his original article, it seems to me that he should have made the phone call to the Ministry of Health *before* writing the article. Isn't it normal newspaper practice to check your facts before the printing?

    Secondly, as to difficulty of doing business, when two Omanis and I started a small Tourist Company in Oman, I expected the government offices to help. WRONG. The government only tried to hinder us as much as possible. The government agencies are set up to help the big companies, as in w-a-s-t-a.

  2. Atleast for this one article, we should appreciate TOO rather than criticising him. He has rightly pointed out the need for more infrastructure in the health sector to meet not only H1N1, but to reduce the huge waiting at government hospitals.

  3. Abd,

    Maybe he should have! Your comment on the (lack of) business support from the Government, that isn't too surprising, but is something to be concerned about. SMEs are where Oman's core growth will be in the future.

    I appreciate ol' Essa. Some may argue he's a bit over the edge, given his increasing proclivity to publish wild (and discredited) conspiracy theories, but at least he's out there saying something.

    And his publication of 'The Beacon' in September, summarising the Omani Society for Writers and Literati workshop, and their call for changes to the law, was great.


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