Interview: Abdullah Al Salmi

In which ways will the new Securities Law help to attract local and foreign capital?

ABDULLAH AL SALMI: The CMA is responsible for regulating the capital market and the insurance segments. The authority not only develops the regulatory environment for these areas of the economy, but it also aims to provide the necessary resources for broader economic and social development.

The Securities Law implemented in June 2022 aims to provide the means and instruments needed to support the financial market’s long-term development in line with Oman Vision 2040, while leveraging the segment to further economic growth.

As a regulator, the CMA has reviewed several provisions of the previous iterations of the law and felt that it was time for the authorities to re-evaluate it and come up with more advanced legislation that will anticipate future needs and respond to the changes taking place in these areas of the economy. The idea was to separate the new specialised securities law from the administrative procedure that already regulated the capital markets. The CMA expects that this change will encourage investment as it offers certain freedoms to the market to accommodate new products.

Moreover, the Securities Law has a significant emphasis on investor protection. Indeed, this is reflected in the absence of any lowering in product types and services, which makes the system flexible enough to adapt to any new products or services introduced in the financial sector.

How may privatisation plans affect the performance of the Muscat Stock Exchange (MSX)?

AL SALMI: The privatisation plan represents one of the key pillars of Vision 2040. It aims to empower the private sector to improve the economy in the coming years. Efforts are now underway to encourage privatisation and to divest certain companies.

As such, several government-owned companies have been transferred to the Oman Investment Authority (OIA), which manages these entities, restructures them and prepares them for privatisation. The OIA announced that four companies will go public in 2022. An additional 35 companies are in the pipeline for public listings. This will strengthen the private sector as a whole and enable the MSX to attract more local and foreign investment.

The privatisation plan is essential because it will help to enhance the attractiveness of the market and encourage even family businesses to follow suit and become publicly listed. This will be very beneficial for the future of the sultanate’s economy and will stimulate new growth dynamics in the sector.

What progress has been made on tackling financial crime, and what role do international partnerships play in this regard?

AL SALMI: To adapt to new financial market instruments while maintaining an open economy, the authorities have decided to review dominant trends in the market and design relevant regulations to protect the economy and prevent financial crime.

The CMA and the Central Bank of Oman have set up two domestic teams to work with other public authorities and departments to develop a new regulation roadmap through different initiatives such as the XBRL, which is an open international framework for exchanging business information managed by a not-for-profit consortium. This service also allows for the monitoring of the establishment of companies while providing free access to detailed analysis based on historical data in order to better understand the issues these firms may face.

In addition to these efforts, we are working closely with our international partners to share critical information and to ensure a unified approach to eliminating misuse of the national financial system.