Higher oil prices provide fiscal breather for Oman

Rising international crude prices, while relatively modest, have offered a modicum of respite from Oman’s fiscal challenges, as well as buoyed hopes for a revival of stalled developmental programmes, according to the Executive President of the Central Bank of Oman (CBO).
Tahir bin Salim al Amri (pictured) said the extra revenues accruing to the Sultanate’s finances on account of the uptick in oil prices would help shore up the nation’s constrained fiscal situation.
“Any extra revenue is always good, although it’s just a little bit,” said the Executive President. “But hopefully, this will give us additional foreign reserves, while also providing the country some breathing space so it can go ahead and implement whatever programmes we were working on to make the fiscal situation much better.”
Al Amri made the comments during a brief interaction with journalists on the sidelines of the inauguration of the facilities of an international bank in the city.
Oman crude, currently averaging around $65 per barrel, is around 30 per cent higher than the 2018 budget benchmark of $50 per barrel. The differential is set to go a significant way in offsetting the deficit projected at RO 3 billion this year.
Commenting on the expectation of an imminent rise in US interest rates and its ramifications for monetary policy in the Sultanate, the Executive President stated: “We are monitoring the situation; Of course, our fixed interest rate policy provides limitations on what we can do, and we are monitoring this as well. We feel it still creates a reasonable environment for investment.”
Al Amri also described the global market meltdown witnessed across the world earlier this week as a “market correction”. Asked for his thoughts on the crisis, he said: “It’s too early for comment on this, but markets are stabilising now. As you would have read, it’s a corrective action. Hopefully things will go back to normal. It’s just the market correcting itself.”

Conrad Prabhu