Following several years of troubling fiscal developments, Oman looks to have finally caught a break. Preliminary figures from the government’s National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI) indicate that the sultanate ran a $6.9bn (OR 2.65bn) deficit in 2018, down from $9.8bn in 2017 and consecutive $12bn+ deficits in 2015 and 2016 (see chart 1).
Oman’s economic situation is still troubling: the IMF estimates the country’s GDP contracted by $2.8bn in dollar terms (down to $79.5bn) between 2018 and 2019, and last year’s deficit still amounts to around 8% of GDP. But on the other hand, the figures do finally indicate some fiscal discipline on Muscat’s part. Oman budgeted for a $7.8bn deficit for 2018 (MEES, 5 January 2018), and though 2018 spending did exceed the budgeted $32.5bn by $2.8bn, bumper revenues of $28.4bn were well in excess of the $24.7bn originally budgeted. (CONTINUED - 1406 WORDS)