Oman’s GDP will grow by more than 3.5 per cent, while the economy will grow at a greater pace, Dr Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has said. Speaking at Oman Economic and Free Zone Summit 2018, organised by the Special Economic Zone of Duqm (SEZAD) and Free Zone Watch (FZW) here on Wednesday, Dr Al Sunaidy said Oman’s economy has managed to weather the storm posed by low oil prices through a package of measures and recorded a “stupendous national growth, which is still continuing”.
He said the economy has “come out unscathed” and has begun to grow again with more prospects in the current year.
“We were able to overcome the challenges posed by low oil prices in the global market, thanks to the expert measures and the diversification initiatives,” he said.
The minister said Oman economy has started to recover and recorded good growth last year.
“We expect the economy to grow at a greater pace and the GDP to grow by more than 3.5 per cent in 2018,” the minister added. Addressing the gathering consisting of under-secretaries, diplomats, representatives of ministries and public authorities, free zones and industrial estates, he said in the past three years, the government has adopted several measures to save the Omani economy from the tentacles of global turmoil.
“The most important measures are intensifying attention to economic diversification by focusing on investment in five key sectors such as manufacturing, tourism, logistics, fisheries and mining,” he said.
Involvement of private sector in this programme along with continued government borrowing for infrastructure, oil and gas exploration and production, reduction in spending and implementing other ways to rationalise government spending have been fruitful.
“The trend towards the use of alternative energy, especially during peak hours, for major energy consumers was widely campaigned for and was well received.”
Dr Al Sunaidy noted, “The development of small and medium enterprises, provision of soft loans to entrepreneurs and focus on protection of intellectual property, while encouraging foreign investment and facilitating establishment of economic activity through the ‘Invest Easy’ programme have been instrumental in achieving the desired results.”
He said the Sultanate has adopted innovative means of financing public service facilities such as hospitals, ports, economic and industrial zones, public transport, electricity and communications services, and collection and treatment of waste.
The conference reviewed Oman’s experience in establishing/managing free zones and special economic zones as well as the role of ports and logistics services in stirring businesses in the free zones and the role of banking sector in economic diversification.
“The government emphasises importance of industrial sector as one of the five sectors targeted by the Ninth Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) which is the link between Oman Vision 2020 and Vision 2040, which is currently under preparation,” said Dr Al Sunaidy.
Meanwhile, the minister said the government is studying the setting up of a dry port at Khazan Logistics Area in the South Al Batinah Governorate.