Oman to cut government budgets by at least 10 pct amid coronavirus, low oil price

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Oman’s finance ministry has told all government agencies to cut their operating budgets by at least 10 percent this year to counter a slide in oil prices, including by reviewing salaries and benefits.

The move comes after the government cut the budget allocated to government agencies for 2020 by 5 percent last month in response to the financial challenges the oil-exporting nation faces.

The ministry said the decision was being taken as part of efforts “to deal with the financial and economic conditions affecting the Sultanate as a result of the sharp drop in oil prices”, state media reported on Tuesday.

All operational budgets would be reviewed and exceptional bonuses for state employees would be halted, according to the finance ministry. It said the decision applied to all ministries, agencies and public entities, as well as security and military bodies.

Oman, whose sovereign bonds are rated ‘junk’ by all major rating agencies, is expected to see its deficit widen this year because of lower oil prices. Its economy, burdened by high levels of debt, is also struggling under a slowdown caused by the new coronavirus outbreak.

As of April 14, Oman had registered 813 coronavirus cases, with four deaths.

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