Oman 2013 budget spending up 30%

Expense is part of social benefits promised after Arab Spring protests in 2011

Oman’s 2013 budget raised spending nearly 30 percent over its 2012 plan to OMR12.9bn (US$33.5bn) yesterday as state boosts outlay on social benefits it promised after Arab Spring protests in 2011.

Spending on education, health, housing and social welfare has been boosted by 22 percent for this year’s plan, Finance Minister Darwish Al Balushi said in a statement carried by state media. He said last year’s actual spending was around OMR13bn, 30 percent higher than planned, due to new projects. He did not give estimated actual figures for 2012 revenue, which was budgeted at OMR8.8bn.

Although the 2013 plan envisages income of OMR11.2bn, actual revenue is likely to be higher because the budget is based on a conservative oil price of US$85 a barrel, with average output of 930,000 barrels a day. On Monday, benchmark Brent crude futures traded at US$111.11 a barrel.

On Sunday, Omani Finance Ministry figures showed the country had run a surplus of US$7.3bn from January to October despite issuing a budget plan that envisaged a deficit of OMR1.2bn.  Last year’s budget was based on an average oil price of US$75 a barrel.

Protests in Oman in February 2011 led to at least two deaths. They demanded jobs, better pay, more democracy and an end to corruption. HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said responded by granting more social benefits, sacking some ministers and giving more legislative powers to Oman’s only elected national body.

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