Oman's government and a semi-governmental firm plan to invest $80 million to develop infrastructure for a proposed free zone in the southern port city of Salalah, the project manager said Monday, June 25.
"The government will provide the basic infrastructure, while Salalah Free Zone Company (SFZC) will construct the buildings," said Jack Helton, who is also the chief executive of Salalah Port Services (SPS).
"We are hopeful that a concession agreement will be signed by the end of September, which will allow us to commence development work in the fourth quarter this year," Helton told reporters.
He said the government and SPA would sign an initial business plan agreement next week, while the first phase of the free zone next to Salalah port is due to start operations by the first quarter of 2002.
Both the area of the zone and the concession terms have been expanded.
"Earlier, we were planning to develop 500 acres (200 hectares), but now we are talking about developing 6,000 acres (2,400 hectares) of land," Helton explained.
"Also, the concession agreement would be for 99 years as against an earlier proposal of 30 years."
He said the zone would be competitive with Dubai's free zone and that the government's incentives included 100 foreign ownership and no taxes on company profits.
The Omani government and Dallas-based Hillwood Development will each hold 40-percent stakes in SFZC, to be launched with equity capital of around $26 million. The remaining 20 percent will be held by SPS. — (AFP)
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