Oman’s public deficit through the first nine months of 2018 has shrunk to $3.48bn (1.34bn Omani Rials) from $6.39bn over the same period last year – a 46% decrease that reflects the all-powerful role international oil prices play in Muscat’s economic wellbeing. If the government can keep end-year spending under control, MEES estimates a full-year deficit of around $5.5-6bn versus $9.76bn in 2017.

Such a substantial cut is sure to impress international spectators whose outlook for Oman had grown increasingly grim post-2014 (MEES, 23 March). Deprived of $100+/B prices, the Sultanate ran up massive deficits in 2015 and 2016 – $12.03bn and $13.76bn respectively – which ballooned the government debt from $3.96bn (4.9% of GDP) at end-2014 to an expected $35.5bn (43% of GDP) at end-2018, according to MEES estimates. The IMF called for immediate fiscal reforms, and despite government spending rising 7.8% so far this year, seems pleased with Oman’s progress. (CONTINUED - 756 WORDS)