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Thu 17 Feb 2011 11:13 AM

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Oman hikes minimum wage to $520 for nationals

Minimum salaries raised by 43% per month, new rules for Omanis working in private sector

Oman hikes minimum wage to $520 for nationals
Inflation in Oman accelerated to 4.2 percent year-on-year in December and prices rose 0.7 percent from the previous month as food costs soared

Oman
has raised minimum wages by 43 percent for national workers in the private
sector, the Gulf Arab country's official news agency said, after consumer
prices increased at their fastest pace in four months in December.

The
sultanate increased the salary for national workers active in the private
sector to OR200  ($520) per month from OR140,
the Oman News Agency (ONA) said.

"The
council of ministers... decided to raise the minimum wage to OR200 per month
under the orders of Sultan Qaboos bin Said," ONA said, without giving a
reason for the rise.

Inflation
in the non-OPEC oil producer accelerated to 4.2 percent year-on-year in
December and prices rose 0.7 percent from the previous month as food costs
soared, data showed.

Gulf
Arab countries have stepped up measures to appease their populations following
popular unrest that toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.

Bahrain's
king decided last week to give 1,000 dinars ($2,650) to each Bahraini family,
in a latest move that the Sunni rulers have taken to appease the majority
Shi'ite public.

There
is no minimum wage for expatriate workers in Oman, who make up 33 percent of
Oman's population of 2.9 million.

Sayyid
Fahd bin Mahmoud al-Said, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers,
said Oman's leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said was keen to ensure decent living to
all Omani citizens, ONA reported.

Said
also said authorities would monitor price hikes of food commodities in the
private sector.

There
is no official unemployment rate, but a CIA estimate from 2004 put the rate
then at around 15 percent.

Omani
participation in the private sector is estimated at 19 percent, but over a
million Omanis are not registered as private-sector and are self-employed in
retail, agricultural and cottage industries where they have unlicensed
businesses in crafts such as pottery, weaving, and silvercraft.

Oman
plans to spend OR8.13bn ($21.1bn) in 2011, an increase of about OR696m over its
2010 budget.

Its
economy grew by a faster-than-expected six percent last year, and robust crude
oil prices enabled the non-OPEC oil producer to overspend on its 2010 budget.

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