GOVERNMENT AND LEGAL AFFAIRS

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Cabinet The Council of Oman
Financial Affairs & Energy Resources Council The Council of State (Majlis al-Dawla)
Administrative Regions & Wilayats The Consultative Council (Majlis al-Shura)
Legal Affairs Tender Board
Basic Stature of the State National Flag of Oman

 

        The administrative system of the State under His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said consists of the Diwan of Royal Court, the Ministry of Palace Office, the Cabinet of Ministers and Secretariat of the Cabinet, the Specialised Councils, the Governorate of Muscat, the Governorate of Dhofar and the Council of Oman (Majlis Oman).

        The Cabinet of Ministers is the highest executive authority, deriving its power from His Majesty the Sultan, to whom it is collectively responsible. Laws and decrees are authorised by His Majesty. International treaties, agreements and charters signed or approved by His Majesty become law from the date of their publication in the Official Gazette.

The Cabinet consists of the following Ministers:

 

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His Majesty presides at a cabinet meeting

 

In December 1997, His Majesty ordered certain changes to ministerial portfolios and responsibilities of ministries with the promulgation of Royal Decrees 84 & 85/97:

His Highness Sayyid Thuwainy bin Shihab Al Said

- Personal Representative of His Majesty the Sultan

His Highness Sayyid Fahad bin Mohmoud Al Said

- Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers

His Highness Sayyid Faisal bin Ali Al Said

-Minister of National Heritage and Culture

His Excellency Sayyid Saif bin Hamad bin Saud

-Minister of the Diwan of the Royal Court

His Excellency General Ali bin Majid al-Ma'amari

Minister of the Palace Office and Head of the Office of the Supreme Commander of Armed Forces

His Excellency Sayyid Badr bin Saud bin Hareb

-Minister of Defence

His Excellency Sayyid Ali bin Hamoud   al Busaidi

-Minister of Interior

His Excellency Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah

-Minister of Foreign Affairs

His Excellency Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Bin Zaher Al-Hinai

- Minister of Justice

His Excellency Ahmed Bin Abdulnabi Macki

- Minister of National Economy and Deputy Chairman of Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council

His Excellency Yahya bin Mahfudh al-Mantheri

-Minister of Higher Education

His Excellency Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Al-Rowas

-Minister of Information

His Excellency Sayyid Al-Mutasim bin Hamoud al-Busaidi

-Minister of State and Governor of Muscat

His Excellency Sheikh Suhail bin Mustahail bin Salim bait Shamas

-Minister of Telecommunications

His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Ali al-Qatabi

-Minister of Electricity and Water

His Excellency Sayyid Musallam bin Ali al-Busaidi

-Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar

His Excellency Malik bin Suleiman al Ma'amari

-Minister of Transport and Housing

His Excellency Sheikh Amer bin Shuwain al Hosni

-Minister of Social Affairs, Labour & Vocational Training

His Excellency Hamed bin Said al-Aufi

-Minister of Water Resources

His Excellency Maqbool bin Ali bin Sultan

-Minister of Commerce and Industry

His Excellency Mohammed bin Ali bin Nasir al-Alawi

-Minister of Legal Affairs

His Excellency Sayyid Saud bin Ibrahim al-Busaidi

-  Minister of Education

His Excellency Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Matar bin Salim al-Azizi

-Minister of Civil Service

His Excellensy Shaikh Abdullah bin Mohammed al-Salimi

- Minister of Awaqaf & Religious Affairs

His Excellency Dr Ahmed bin khalfan bin Mohammed al Rowahi

-Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries

His Excellency Dr Mohammed bin Hamad bin Saif al -Romhi

-Minister of Oil & Gas

His Excellency Dr Khamis bin Mubarak bin Isa al-Alawi

-Minister of Regional Municipalities & Environment

His Excellency Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal bin said is the Secretary General of the cabinet

At the same time under Royal Decree 92/97, new Under-Secretaries were appointed, including two women with doctorates, increasing the number of women holding high office in Government to three.

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Financial Affairs & Energy Resources Council

In 1996, the Financial Affairs and Natural Gas Councils were amalgamated by Royal Decree to form the Financial Affairs and Energy Council, which meets on a regular basis, under the chairmanship of its Deputy Chairman, the Minister of National Economy, to review all matters relating to the financial health and development of the economy.

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Administrative Regions & Wilayats

        The Sultanate of Oman is divided into eight administrative regions, which are further sub-divided into 59 districts or wilayats. Each wilayat is governed by a Wali who is responsible to the Ministry of Interior.

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Legal Affairs

In 1975, the Diwan of Legislation was formed to review all laws and to draft Royal decrees, international agreements and government contracts. In 1994, the Ministry of Legal Affairs was established to match the legal framework of the State with the development and progress seen throughout the Sultanate. The Ministry is responsible for the preparation of Royal decrees and for reviewing all draft laws, regulations and Ministerial Decisions before they are promulgated and published in the Official Gazette. In March 1999, the Ministry published the 27th Legislative Volume, which includes all Royal Decrees, Ministerial Decisions and Government circulars issued during 1998.

        The Ministry issues the Official Gazette and gives legal opinion and advice to the Government on the interpretation of Royal Decrees and Laws and any other matter referred to it by His Majesty the Sultan. Another important responsibility is the scrutiny of any contract committing the Government to expenditure of over RO500,000.

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Basic Stature of the State

        This most important piece of legislation was enacted in 1996. The purpose of the Basic Statute   of the State is to provide a force for political and social Stability, while at the same time guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of the individual. Besides laying down a procedure for the succession to the throne, the statute provided for the formation of a State Council of Oman. It is a comprehensive document defining the role of Government and the judiciary, as well as laying down the policy of the State towards the economy, security, education and social development of the nation.

The white book

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The Council of Oman

        On the 27th December 1997, His Majesty presided over the opening of Council of Oman, which had been established by Royal Decree 86/97 in accordance with the Basic Statute of the State. The Council of Oman consists of two chambers:

 

The Council of State (Majlis al-Dawla)

   On the 4th of January 1998, the Council of State held its first plenary meeting after being inaugurated by His Majesty. The meeting was opened by the President. The members appointed by His Majesty were then sworn in and a Vice-President elected. The Office of the Council of State will meet fortnightly and committees have been formed to examine legal, social and economic issues. Plenary sessions of the Council are to be held four times per year.  The council offers seasoned advice to His Majesty and works closely in co-ordination with the Majlis al-Shura, thus strengthening Oman's consultative process and widening participation in the public life of the Sultanate.

 

The Consultative Council (Majlis al-Shura)

    In November 1990, His Majesty announced that a new consultative council (majlis al-Shura) would replace the state Consultative Council (majlis al-Istishari Lil Dawla) which had been formed in 1981. In December 1991, the first Consultative Council was inaugurated with 59 members representing each of the Wilayats.

        The State Consultative Council had been a nominated body, but in accordance with the steps being taken towards further political liberalisation, each member of the present Consultative Council has been elected with the exception of the President who is appointed by Royal Decree. The two Vice-Presidents are elected by the membership of the council in a secret ballot.

        The term of membership is three years, which may be extended. Candidates must be not less than 30 years of age, have a good reputation and be reasonably well educated. Once a candidate is selected for membership he or she must give up any other official post.   Elections to the Council were held in October 1997.

The third term of the Council runs from 1st December 1997 to 30th November 2000. The previous elections in July 1994 resulted in the appointment of two women for the first time. Although more women put themselves forward as candidates in the 1997 elections under the extension of the franchise for women, only two were successful in a popular vote. In 1994, the number of members in the Council was increased to 80, based on the results of the first National Census held in December 1993.

        Because of population increases, the number of members has now been increased to 82. Wilayats with a population of more than 30,000 people elected four candidates from whom two were elected to serve as member of the Council. Wilayats with smaller populations continue to put forward two candidates, one of whom is selected. In the 1997 elections there were 736 candidates including 27 women.

        The franchise of the Council is also expected to be widened at the next elections in early 2000. The Council will continue to evolve along democratic lines in accordance with the traditions and principles of Islam. These are enshrined in the verses of Holy Qur'an, which contains a chapter entitled Surat al-Shura.

        The Council has been instrumental in helping  to make studies and recommendations for Oman's economic and financial policies being implemented in the current Five-Year Plan.

        The Council convened four plenary sessions with some 13 meetings lasting about 58 hours in 1998, while the various committees held 83 meetings. The council received 21 petitions from citizens requesting development and improvement of their areas. 

        One of the principal duties of the Council is to review all social and economic draft laws prepared by the Ministries before their enactment. The most important piece of legislation considered by the Council in 1998 was the draft of the Civil Transaction Law, which contains 1,348 articles. In 1999 this legislation was passed to the Majlis al-Dawla for study and discussion. The Council also has a duty to participate in efforts towards the conservation of the environment. Much of the Council's work is done in committee. There are now seven permanent committees - legal, economic, health & social affairs, education & culture, services & development of local communities, environment & human resources and follow up & implementation.

Members are not at liberty to divulge any of the proceedings of the Council which are kept confidential. However, under the constitution of the Council, public service ministers are expected to submit reports and answer questions on their ministries' performance, plans and achievements. These are made known to the public through the media.

Foreign delegations are invited to see the work of the Council and discuss its procedures. In 1998, several visited Oman, among them one from the parliament (Bundestag) of the Federal Republic of Germany which was received by the Council. The Council also sends delegations to neighbouring countries thus strengthening the links between parliamentary organisations.

The television appearances of Ministers to answer searching questions before the plenary sessions of the Council have been very well received by the public. In 1998, it was the turn of the Ministers of Health and Social Security, Labour & Vocational Training to appear before the Council to deliver comprehensive statements on the plans and projects of their ministries. Other Ministers who have addressed the Council in recent times were the Minister of Education, the Minister of Higher Education, the Minister of National Economy, the former Minister of Social Affairs & Labour and the Minister of the Civil Service.

In its new term, which coincided with the launch of the Year of the Private Sector, the Council gave the highest priority to manpower development and training, considering human resources development to be the prerequisite for national development and a healthy economy.

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Tender Board

The Tender Board was established by Royal Decree in 1973 to ensure the fair and equitable allocation of contracts. The board is assisted by an Executive Secretariat which forms the active link between the board and the various Government authorities that issue tenders via the board.

The board, which usually meets fortnightly, is responsible for all Government tenders with the exception of contracts and projects related to Defence and Security. Tenders may involve assignments, materials purchase or project implementation. In 1998, the board met 23 times and accepted 135 tenders with a total value of over RO231 million, compared with 119 tenders worth RO245 million in 1997. The number of companies tendering was 266, compared with 396 in 1997.

In 1998, a total of 418 commercial companies, consulting firms and contractors in several different categories were registered with the board. In April 1999, the board introduced a new procedure at its meetings, whereby representatives of the companies submitting tenders were invited to be present to witness the opening of the envelopes containing the bids.

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National Flag of Oman

The National Flag was raised for the first time on 17th December 1970. The flag carries the Sultanate's emblem of two crossed swords with a khanjar and belt superimposed. The white portion of the flag signifies the belief of the Omani people in peace and prosperity. Red, which is the dominant colour, has been adopted from the old Omani flag (which was red in its entirety) and this symbolises the battles fought by the Omanis for the eviction of foreign invaders from their country. While green, besides being the colour of Islam, represents the fertility and greenery of the land.

Before the 25th National Day in November 1995 new regulations were introduced for the proportions of the three colours, the dimensions of the flag and the height of the poles on which it may be flown, according to the building and purpose.

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