Seen as integral in promoting investments and improving the future of the economy, the Invest Easy service is the culmination of a decade-long plan to create an innovative, open, and reliable business environment.
The early 2000s saw a rethink, by the MOCI, of the commercial registration process. The passing of Executive Regulation 121/86 on the Commercial Register Law sparked the first wave of integration in a One-Stop Shop system (the “OSS”). The OSS allows those requiring access to various governmental departments to come to one place for the majority of their dealings. Moreover, 2003 saw an initiative to incorporate technology into this process and a system streamlining certain business aspects was rolled out in 2006. Despite being limited in accessibility and in substance, it resulted in an increase in the number of commercial registrations. Following further regulation and planning, the beginning of 2014 marked the introduction of the Invest Easy portal, allowing a number of essential business tasks to be completed online 24/7.
In order to improve and simplify the user experience, the MOCI keeps a constant dialogue with entrepreneurs, law firms, and companies and, term by term, the user has seen an expansion in the capabilities of the system as well as the streamlining of the administrative processes. Recent improvements are a result of this dialogue and have included the possibility for law firms and other registered users to pay for transactions online without a point of sale system, and to access commercial registration information and certificates for free.
Fundamentally, the online portal allows investors to quickly and securely register a new business in the Commercial Register. Upon establishment, businesses can complete a number of tasks including but not limited to: updating company information (name, share capital, shareholders, etc.), accessing information about other commercial entities, submitting license applications and including in their registrations over 210 different unlicensed commercial activities. Moreover, the portal also provides clear and simplified information on numerous procedures, and enables users to update all their new data online. New additions relating to the registration and management of commercial agencies are expected by the end of July 2016.
Following the general intention to simplify the management of businesses in Oman, the MOCI has taken the decision to consolidate the Certificate of Incorporation and the Commercial Registration Information of all registered companies in a new document, the Commercial Registration Certificate, and has abolished, effective 1 June 2016, the authorised signatories form, i.e., the form setting out the specimen signatures of the persons authorised to act on behalf of the company. The details of the authorised signatories are now set out in the Commercial Registration Certificate, which now is a Digitally Signed Form, signed and certified using a Digital Signature Certificate as per the Electronic Transactions Law (Royal Decree 69/2008).
Currently, the portal is working in cooperation with Ministry of Manpower, Royal Oman Police, Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, Muscat Municipality, Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry and many other government entities.
Nortal, the software architects of the portal, have noted that in the first six months of the new commercial registration service implemented in Oman, of the over twelve thousand new companies which were registered, 1,000 were registered using the portal, with that proportion increasing month by month. In September of 2015, 16.7% of the total company registrations came through Invest Easy.
If diversification is to come into the economy, systems such as Invest Easy are instrumental in attracting new investment into Oman. Despite its long teething problems, the system is a drastic improvement from having to attend various ministerial departments costing time and money to investors and firms.