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Up to 2,000% increase in Oman traffic fines

As state revenues are hit due to oil price slump, traffic fines set to drastically increase

Gulf News

Muscat: Amendments to Oman’s traffic law that will come into force on Tuesday are expected to see up to twenty-fold increase in fines for certain traffic violations.

Under the new laws, the minimum jail term stipulated would range between 10 days and two years, while fines would range between 200 rials (Dh1,900) and 3,000 rials.

The government had said that the stiffer penalties are intended to ensure safety and reduce road fatalities and injuries. According to Omani authorities, road accidents kill an average of two people per day on the sultanate’s roads.

Traffic experts, too, say that the heftier penalties in the new law will help reduce fatalities.

As many as 336 people were killed in 2,100 road accidents nationwide until the end of June this year, according to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) figures.

The move comes amid an oil price slump that has seen the sultanate’s revenues drop, leading to the government posting a budget deficit of 3.5 billion rials (Dh33.2 billion) in the first six months of 2016. Revenues in the same period declined by 32.1 per cent due to the slide in oil prices, according to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).

Oman’s Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed last month approved the amendments to the traffic law through Royal Decree no. 38\2016.

Most of the offences existed in the old traffic law but penalties are heftier under the amended law.

Local media had reported earlier that the government is studying measures to reduce spending and increase state revenues.

The measures being studied reportedly include the levying of taxes on expatriate remittances, increasing taxes on real estate rent contracts, as well as rises in electricity tariffs, traffic fines, vehicle registration, renewal and insurance fees.

Oman posted a deficit of 4.5 billion rials in 2015.

The Ministry of Finance has issued 20 circulars so far this year aimed at controlling and managing spending.

For the first time, motorists who neglect warnings to avoid wadis during heavy rain will face up to three months in jail apart from a fine of 500 rials.

From Tuesday, motorists using phone mobile while driving or other electronic equipment may face a 10-day jail-term and be slapped with a fine not exceeding 300 rials. Under the old law, the fine ranged between 10 to 15 rials.

Reckless drivers can face two-year jail term and a fine of up to 3,000 rials if the accident led to death or cause permanent disability due to recklessness, negligence or under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.

Any motorist caught under the influence of alcohol or drugs can face jail-term up to six months and fine up to 800 rials, compared to 50 rials in the old traffic law, a 16-fold increase.

Furthermore, drivers who perform drifting stunts on roads can face jail-term of up to three months and be fined up to 500 rials. The same penalty is applied for those who commit immoral acts inside the vehicle, as per the article 42 of the traffic law.

A motorist who refuses to present his or her driver’s license or refuses to give alcohol breath test can face between 10 days and 30 days in jail and fines range between 50 rials and 300 rials under the law.

Amendments were approved by the Council of Ministers in 2015 and then sent to Sultan Qaboos for final approval.

Oman has a high number of road accidents, with 6,276 crashes recorded in 2015, resulting in more than 675 deaths.

July was the deadliest month of 2015, with 71 people killed in road accidents.

More than four million traffic fines were registered last year, ranging between 10 rials and 50 rials, according to figures made available by the authorities.

An official at Oman police earlier told Gulf News that all the money collected from fines and other services go to the state’s coffers.

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