Source: Oman Daily Observer
The Sultanate’s general revenues amounted to RO 8.754 billion, an increase of 38.4 per cent as at end of July this year compared to RO 6.326 billion during the same period last year. With oil prices stabilising above $100 per barrel in the past months, oil and gas revenue soared by 34 per cent to reach RO 6.374 billion year-on-year after setting aside a portion of the revenues to the reserve funds. The corresponding period of 2011 saw a total revenue of RO 4.757 billion.
Revenues from gas sales recorded RO 985 million, up from the RO 597 million accrued in the same period a year earlier. The monthly statistics issued by the National Centre for Statistics (NCS) showed that the Sultanate’s general spending soared by 43.8 per cent, recording RO 6.712 billion at the end of July compared to RO 4.668 billion for the corresponding period last year sending the budget surplus of the first eight months of the year to RO 2.122 billion while the same period of 2011 saw a surplus of RO 440 million.
Last year the Oman crude oil was sold at an average price of $102 per barrel against $58 per barrel set in 2011 State Budget, enabling the Sultanate to achieve a budget surplus of RO 1.1 billion. NCS figures showed that running expenses rose by 44 per cent to RO 3.939 billion, while spending on investment declined by 14 per cent and amounted to RO 1.401 billion. Subsidies and contributions provided by the government rose to RO 1.371 billion.
Meanwhile, the Sultanate ranked in the top 20 most economically free countries in world, according to the 2012 Economic Freedom of the World Report released yesterday by the Fraser Institute, a leading Canadian public policy think-tank. The annual Economic Freedom of the World Report is the premier measurement of economic freedom, using 42 distinct variables to generate an index ranking countries around the world based on policies that encourage economic freedom.
The cornerstones of economic freedom are: personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete and security of property. The report measures economic freedom in five different areas: size of government, legal structure and security of property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulation of credit, labour and business.
“We’re very proud to see that out of 144 countries Oman is ranked 20th in the 2012World Economic Freedom Report,” remarked Dr Salem ben Nasser al Ismaily, Chairman, The Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (PAIPED). The Sultanate moves up seven places on its 2011 ranking.
Hong Kong and Singapore occupy the top two positions in the 2012 Economic Freedom of the World Report, followed by New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Bahrain, Mauritius, Finland and Chile completes the top-10.
On the GCC front, Oman is ranked fifth. Bahrain is the best performer in 7th, followed by the UAE in 11th, Qatar 17th, Kuwait 19th and Saudi Arabia in 65th. From a broader regional perspective, Oman scores very well in comparison to Jordan 23rd, Tunisia 80th and Egypt 99th. The annual peer-reviewed Economic Freedom of the World Report is produced by the Fraser Institute, one of Canada’s leading public policy think-tanks, in co-operation with independent institutes in over 80 nations and territories.
“Research has shown that economic freedom is important to a society’s overall well-being. Globally, economic freedom is positively correlated with per-capita income, economic growth, greater life expectancy, lower child mortality, the development of democratic institutions, civil and political freedoms, and other desirable social and economic outcomes,” remarked Azzan al Busaidy, PAIPED’s newly-appointed Director-General of Research.
Out of the 144 countries surveyed, Oman scores extremely well in the key categories: Size of government: changed from 99th to 113th; Legal structures and security of property rights: improved from 23rd to 20th; Access to sound money: dropped from 54th to 59th; Freedom to trade internationally: moved down one from 37th to 38th; Regulation: moved up from 20th to 7th; Credit market regulations: saw a significant improvement from 105th to 17th; Labour market regulations: improved from 7th to 6th; Business regulations: Oman remained in 6th place. Four years on, and the world continues to feel the aftershocks of the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression.
“In such testing times, it’s crucial for an externally-oriented economy such as Oman to develop new markets, encourage the free flow of information, goods and capital and maintain a level playing field for business and encourage an economically free society,” said Al Busaidy.
“Indeed, our government continues to look at ways of reducing red tape, eliminating outdated regulations, safeguarding property rights and promoting trade and investment. Our ranking in this year’s Economic Freedom of the World Report clearly demonstrates the solid progress we’re making as a nation in many of these areas. Having said that, there’s still more work to be done. We want to improve on our current ranking,” concluded PAIPED’s Chairman.