By Gavin Davids
Creation of jobs for Omanis and SME investment a priority for new plan
Oman will set a growth target of at least three percent in its upcoming five year development plan, starting in 2011, according to the Sultanate’s Minister of National Economy.
Ahmed bin Abdul Nabi Mecki said that the Gulf state’s real GDP growth for the current 2006-2010 plan sharply exceeded the targeted rate of three percent despite the negative impact of the global financial crisis in 2008.
In a report by Emirates Business 24/7, the minister said that his figures showed real GDP growth at 5.5 percent in 2006, around 6.8 percent in 2007, as high as 12.8 percent in 2008 and nearly 7.3 percent in 2009. He forecast 2010’s growth to be around the 6.1 percent mark.
Mecki’s 2009 growth figures were in sharp contrast to the IMF’s estimations, which put the growth rate at 3.6 percent. The IMF’s 2010 growth estimates of 4.7 percent are also significantly lower than the minister’s.
Speaking to Oman’s Alwatan daily earlier this week, he said: “The next development plan will concentrate on attaining a growth rate of at least three percent, boosting exports, encouraging investment and devising a strategy to expand productivity.”
Mecki said that creating jobs for Omanis would be a priority, as well as developing agriculture and other non oil sectors. He added that the private sector would be encouraged to invest in small and medium size enterprises.
An increase in oil and gas revenue helped Oman reduce its public debt and increase financial reserves during the 2006-2010 development plan, Mecki said. Foreign investment also recorded an increase, with several development projects being completed, he added.
Oman’s oil production jumped to a record high of approximately 875,000 barrels per day in November of this year, while crude prices in the first half of 2010 jumped to $14.9bn from $12.53bn in 2009, an increase of more than 30 percent.
In current prices, Oman’s near 33.9 percent increase in GDP during the first half of 2010 was mainly due to higher production and prices.
Higher prices and output meant that the Sultanate was able to maintain the fiscal expansion plan it adopted when the global financial crisis hit. During the same period oil export earnings increased to about $10.19bn from $7.97bn.
According to figures provided by the Ministry of National Economy, Oman’s GNP per capita climbed to a record high of $20,232 in 2008, while successive five year plans increased job opportunities for Omanis to over 275,000 in 2008 from under 100,000 in 1996.
Mecki added: “We are planning to carry out more projects in the eighth development plan, covering all sectors, mainly infrastructure, industry and tourism.”