Currency and Banking
Oman’s exchange system is free of restrictions on payments and transfer for international transactions, and the Omani trade system may be regarded as virtually fully open. The financial institutional framework of Oman is mainly composed of banks, money exchanges companies, insurance companies, pension funds, hire purchase and leasing companies and the Muscat Securities Market. The banking sector is the major component of the financial system and is comprised of the Central Bank of Oman, 17 commercial banks of which seven are locally incorporated and three specialized banks. The banking industry is regulated by the Banking Law of 1974. The Central Bank of Oman (CBO), which was established in 1975, has taken several measures to strengthen its supervisory role and to ensure the soundness of the banking system and the economy. These measures include the raising of the maximum limit on investment in Government Development Bonds, encouragement of mergers within the financial system and the issuance of regulations governing investment banking activities. The CBO requires that commercial banks maintain minimum capital holdings of RO 10 million for locally incorporated commercial banking institutions and RO 3 million for foreign incorporated commercial banking entities. The Oman Development Bank provides loans and guarantees for financing development expenditure for manufacturing, tourism and service projects in designated sectors of the economy. The loans and guarantees may amount to 100 percent of the paid-up capital. In addition, the Oman Development Bank may participate in the share capital of the company or underwrite an issue of shares to the public up to 51 percent of the capital of the company. The government may bear 3 percent of the interest for projects located in Muscat, and 5 percent for projects located outside Muscat. The term of such loans may range between three and ten years. As to security, the Oman Development Bank may require that mobile and fixed assets be mortgaged in its favor, and, in certain cases, personal guarantees may be necessary.