Oman - Corruption
The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption and the government generally implemented these laws effectively. There were isolated reports of government corruption during the year. Public officials are not subject to financial disclosure laws. The law does not provide public access to government information. All royal decrees and ministerial decisions were published for public access.
Ministers and Under Secretaries (deputy ministers) are not allowed to hold offices in public shareholding companies. However, many influential figures in government still maintain private businesses and some are also involved in private-public projects. These activities either create or have the potential to create conflicts of interest.
Most major contracts are awarded through a slow, rigorous, but generally transparent tender process. Pursuant to the U.S.-Oman FTA, Oman advertises most tenders in the local press, international periodicals, and on the Tender Board's website, although a few sensitive projects are not publicized and not subject to FTA obligations. Also, bidders are now requested to be present at the opening of bids, and interested parties may view the process on the Tender Board's website. Disputes arising from the tendering process are reviewed domestically.
Although Oman is not a signatory to the OECD convention on combating bribery, Sultan Qaboos has dismissed several ministers and senior government officials for corruption during his reign. In one of Oman's biggest corruption scandals in several years, over 30 government and private sector employees, including the Under Secretary of the Ministry of Housing, Electricity, and Water, were convicted in October 2005 on counts of bribery and forgery, among others. Oman has not yet signed the UN Convention against Corruption. In 2009, Transparency International ranked Oman 39 out of 180 countries in its "Corruption Perception Index," a noticeable decline from its 28th place ranking in 2005.
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