Ali Al Matani –
The demands for not restructuring government taxes and fees have increased recently. Demands have been raised by many institutions, including the Consultative Council, the private sector as well as citizens.
The substantial question that is raised is, what are the alternatives that these authorities see towards filling in the deficit at this stage where oil revenues are declining and non-oil revenues are insufficient for the state’s financial needs?
Will we keep taking loans from internal and external markets forever to fill in the deficit? Is it okay for our country to feel belittled before the major lending institutions, which have never taken it easy when it comes to imposing their penal and coercive terms that can lead to our country losing its status and prestige among other states?
The state right now is like a committed father spending on his children, towards providing them with essential requirements that ensure a decent life for them.
Meanwhile, the father finds himself obliged to postpone buying unessential luxuries.
However, unaware of their father’s financial status, children demand that he provide them with items of luxury as well, as the father of the children in their neighbourhood does.
The state can’t seem to get out of this issue, as it’s considered the father who spends money on his children. It’s true he should not be a miser with his own children, but sometimes he is just unable to fulfill their desires because of a lack of proper livelihood. This is the life norm we should respect.
So, is it acceptable for us to be so demanding and outspoken everywhere, asking for more benefits regardless of the financial status of the kind father?
We have to wonder, if the government does not implement tough decisions that some don’t appreciate or like, then what’s the magical solution they suggest to fill in the big budget deficit that is expected to reach RO 6 million this year, even as all measures taken by the government are unable to tackle the financial crisis the State is facing.
Do we want our country to be in an undesired situation, and then sit and watch helplessly the negative consequences?
At the same time, we should remember the time when the financial situation was good. The government then invested heavily in various projects that benefited the State and citizens. It also distributed the incomes on citizens in different forms: salary increase for citizens, services provided for people across the country, including villages, mountains and deserts. Everyone benefited from the development that took place in the past years in the Sultanate.
And now, we must pay back to the country, when it requires greater sacrifice and loyalty as well as patience and tolerance in order to overcome the crisis.
We do understand the reasons why some authorities like the Consultative Council and the private sector have a different perception, and make such demands: their orientations and relations with their voters.
However, in such conditions, personal interests should not precede supreme national interests.
These authorities have a pivotal role in convincing citizens and corporates about the necessity of cooperating with the government in order to overcome the difficult situation.
Such authorities have a big responsibility not in terms of demanding more from the government and asking not to increase fees and taxes, but in terms of convincing others about the need for patience, and cope with the hardships of the current stage and work hard towards overcoming the crisis by making some sacrifices.
We also understand that the economic downturn has its impact on all people. However, we have to negotiate such hairpin turns acknowledging that it’s not only the Sultanate that is in crisis, but almost all the countries. The solution is to work on enhancing foreign investments by facilitating and streamlining the procedures in this field, and liquidate some financial assets along with strengthening the private sector and entrepreneurs, and thereby support the government.
At this stage, the government wants every baisa to be infused back into the development projects, so that it can fulfill its essential monthly obligations and other requirements.
It expects more cooperation, solidarity and synergy to come out of this crisis, no matter how hard it will be for us. Anyway, all these hardships will always be so little in comparison to what our country has given us for long.