The number of Omanis employed in the private sector rose by 7 per cent last year according to recent data released by the Central Bank of Oman (CBO).
According to the CBO’s annual report for the year 2017, the growth of overall employment in the private sector decelerated to 1.2 per cent in 2017 from an average of 8.5 per cent in the previous two years, mainly on account of lower incremental employment to the expatriates.
On the other hand, the overall employment in the public sector recorded a growth of 1.8 per cent in 2016, marginally higher as compared to 1.6 per cent in 2015 but much lower compared to the average 7.8 per cent during 2013 and 2014.
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Data from the annual report shows oil and gas contributed 72.9 per cent to total government revenues and 58.3 per cent to merchandise exports during 2017. Additionally, the annual production of natural gas inched up marginally by 0.1 per cent in 2017.
Oil and gas revenues grew by 19.6 per cent and total government revenue increased by 11.9 per cent in 2017 (in comparison with a decline of 16.1 per cent during 2016).
This was caused by a sharp recovery in oil prices and measures undertaken by the government. Omani crude oil price averaged at $51.3 per barrel in 2017, while 2017 budget had assumed average oil prices at $50 per barrel.
Oman’s current account deficit dropped to OMR4.1 billion in 2017 from OMR4.7 billion. The decline was attributed to a 40 per cent trade surplus increase caused by rising oil prices and a growing non-oil exports.
Reflecting Oman’s commitment to fiscal consolidation, government expenditure declined in 2017 for the third year in a row. Last year, government expenditure fell by 4.7 per cent. Overall, the fiscal deficit declined by 29.1 per cent to OMR3,760 million in 2017 from OMR5,300 million during 2016.
Oman’s banking sector secured a Basel capital adequacy of 17.4, higher than the mandated 13.25. The gross non-performing loan ration of commercial banks, excluding specialised and Islamic institutions, moved up 2.4 per cent in December 2017 from 2.1 percent in December 2016.
Inflationary conditions remained comfortable and supportive of growth. The average inflation based on consumer price index rose 1.6 per cent in 2017 from 1.1 per cent during 2016 and 0.1 per cent in 2015, which was mainly attributed to hardening of global commodity prices, a depreciation in dollar exchange rate, less-than-anticipated reduction in government spending, and cut in subsidies especially on power.
The an increase of inflation in the transport, furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance, education, housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, and food and non-alcoholic beverages categories was partly offset by decline in inflation under communication category.
The agriculture and fisheries sector grew by 7 per cent in 2017, whereas services accounted for 51.6 per cent of the Sultanate’s overall GDP.
Government revenues are budgeted to grow by 11.6 per cent in 2018 over actuals in 2017, while total expenditure is estimated to increase by 1.8 per cent during the year. Overall, the fiscal deficit is budgeted at OMR3,000 million in 2018, which will be largely financed through external debt.
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