MUSCAT, DEC 24
Preliminary estimates of the 2023 State Budget, released by the Omani Ministry of Finance last week, indicate that 34 per cent of the total budgetary allocations for the coming year are earmarked for basic services, such as education, health, housing and social welfare.
The sizable allocation made towards basic services further underscores the Omani government’s commitment to sustaining the well-being of the Omani population, while strengthening social welfare and the overall safety net designed to help vulnerable sections of the local community.
Public expenditure is projected at RO 12.950 billion in the 2023 Pre-Budget estimates, which is higher by 7 per cent (RO 820 million) in nominal terms compared to the RO 12.310 billion in public expenditure estimated to have been incurred during the current 2022 Budget.
Indeed, social care is recognized as one of the pillars of the comprehensive developmental strategy pursued by the state to enable citizens to benefit more widely from the services provided to them, in order to ensure the provision of an ideal environment for a dignified life. Education takes the largest share of this allocation, followed by social care, health and housing.
According to experts, the social protection system set in place in the Sultanate of Oman demonstrates that the government’s spares no effort in securing the essential needs of the local community through various programmes and initiatives.
This is also evident from the regular gestures of support extended by the government last year in response to, for example, soaring prices of food grain, animal feed and other commodities in the wake of global developments, notably the Ukraine War.
Sharing details about the 2023 Pre-Budget estimates, Sultan bin Salem al Habsi, Minister of Finance, indicated that Oman succeeded in reining in inflation at safe limits, not exceeding 3 per cent, as a result of monetary policies and other intervention. The total support for the year 2022 amounted to over RO 1.6 billion, he said.
The 2023 Budget has been formulated to sustain the country’s economic recovery, maintain inflation rates at moderate levels of about 3 per cent, expand private sector participation, stimulate the growth small and medium enterprises, and sustain investment spending on projects, he stated.
Experts have also referenced Royal Decree 33/2021, which decreed the establishment of a fund called the “Social Protection Fund”, which set national targets and best practices, and addresses many problems such as including years of service, temporary work contracts, and social security programmes.