Oman boosts 2013 spending plans Finance Minister

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Oman’s 2013 budget raised spending nearly 30 percent over its 2012 plan to 12.9 billion rials ($33.5 billion) on Tuesday as the Arabian Peninsula monarchy boosts outlay on social benefits it promised after Arab Spring protests in 2011.

Spending on education, health, housing and social welfare has been boosted by 22 percent for this year’s plan, Finance Minister Darwish al-Balushi said in a statement carried by state media.

He said last year’s actual spending was around 13 billion rials, 30 percent higher than planned, due to new projects. He did not give estimated actual figures for 2012 revenue, which was budgeted at 8.8 billion rials.

Although the 2013 plan envisages income of 11.2 billion rials, actual revenue is likely to be higher because the budget is based on a conservative oil price of $85 a barrel, with average output of 930,000 barrels a day.

On Monday, benchmark Brent crude futures traded at $111.11 a barrel.

On Sunday Omani Finance Ministry figures showed the country had run a surplus of $7.3 billion from January to October despite issuing a budget plan that envisaged a deficit of 1.2 billion rials.

Last year’s budget was based on an average oil price of $75 a barrel.
Protests in Oman in February 2011 led to at least two deaths, as demonstrators blocked main roads and industrial areas in the ports of Sohar and Salalah, and staged a sit in outside government buildings in the capital Muscat.

They demanded jobs, better pay, more democracy and an end to corruption.

Sultan Qaboos responded by granting more social benefits, sacking some ministers and giving more legislative powers to Oman’s only elected national body.

Oman’s last big protest was in the summer.

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