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Wed 14 Dec 2011 11:32 AM

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Oman to subsidise food staples to offset inflation

Foods including rice, meat, wheat and sugar will get price help in protest-hit sultanate

Oman to subsidise food staples to offset inflation
Oman plans to spend $109m to build warehouses across the country to store food

Oman's government has approved plans to subsidise food
staples to offset inflation, a government official at the Gulf sultanate's trade
ministry said on Tuesday.

"Essential foods like wheat, rice, sugar, flour,
locally produced meat and poultry products will be subsidized to offset
inflation," a trade ministry official said, adding the plan has been
already enforced this week.

The government will spend OR42m ($109m) to build warehouses
across the country to store food to help offset rising prices.

Annual inflation edged up marginally to 3.8 percent in
October, data showed on Monday. Analysts in September forecast average
inflation in Oman of 3.9 percent in 2011 and 2012, after 3.3 percent in 2010.

The central bank's executive president said in November he
was not worried about inflation at the moment, but that the central bank would
watch it very closely. He forecast in October inflation would reach 4 percent
in 2011, while the economy was likely to grow 5 percent.

Oman, a usually tranquil Gulf Arab sultanate, was touched by
street protests earlier this year
calling mainly for higher wages, fairer
access to government jobs and an end to graft.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, a US ally who has ruled the small,
non-OPEC oil-producing state for 40 years, responded by promising a $2.6bn spending
package and creation of 50,000 public sector jobs.

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