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Oman forecasts 3b riyal deficit in 2018

2018 deficit will be covered by drawing 500m riyals from reserves and 2.5b riyals form domestic and external borrowing

Gulf News

Muscat: The Omani government revealed a projected budget for 2018 of 12.5 billion Omani riyals, with expected revenues of 9.5 billion riyals and a 3 billion riyal deficit.

The deficit will be met by dipping into state reserves and borrowing from markets, according to a statement issued by the Omani Parliament’s Economic and Financial Affairs Committee of the Shura Council on Monday.

Around 500 million riyals will be drawn down from reserves while the remaining 2.5 billion riyals will come from domestic and external borrowing.

The revelations came after the committee on Monday hosted Oman’s Minister responsible for Financial Affairs, Darwish Al Beloushi, in a secret session.

The formal announcement of the 2018 general budget will be announced on January 1.

The statement added that the 2018 budget is based on an assumption that oil prices will average $50 (Dh183.65) per barrel. No further details were given.

Meanwhile, Oman posted a deficit of 3 billion riyals in the first nine months of 2017, compared to 4 billion riyals in the same period last year, due to the slide in oil prices, according figures from the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).

The increase in the state’s public revenues as of July 31, 2017 is attributed to a 43 per cent increase in oil revenues to 2.5 billion riyals compared to 1.7 billion riyals.

The 2017 General Budget focuses on austerity measures and spending cuts largely driven by the plunge in oil prices. Government spending this year is expected to total 11.7 billion riyals (Dh111.3 billion) while revenues are forecast at 8.7 billion riyals, which would result in a deficit of 3 billion riyals.

Oman posted a budget deficit of 5.3 billion riyals in 2016 on the back of falling revenues which we down by more than 30 per cent.

Fahad Al Mukrashi is a freelance journalist based in Muscat.

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