Oman's ruler approves fiscal plan to diversify revenue

Oman will also accelerate the establishment of a social security system for low-income citizens who may be affected by the government's drive to bring down the country's debt and cut state spending

  
Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq meets with U.S. Secretary of State?Mike?Pompeo (not pictured) at al-Alam palace in Muscat, Oman February 21, 2020. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS

Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq meets with U.S. Secretary of State?Mike?Pompeo (not pictured) at al-Alam palace in Muscat, Oman February 21, 2020. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS

DUBAI - Oman's sultan has approved a medium-term fiscal plan to make government finances sustainable, state media said on Thursday, as the coronavirus crisis and low oil prices batter state coffers.

The Gulf oil producer has long had plans to reform its economy, diversify revenues and introduce sensitive tax and subsidies reform, but they dragged under the late Sultan Qaboos, who died in January after half a century in power.

His successor, Sultan Haitham, approved a 2020-2024 fiscal plan that included increasing government income from non-oil sectors, state media reported, citing orders from the Sultan.

Oman will also accelerate the establishment of a social security system for low-income citizens who may be affected by the government's drive to bring down the country's debt and cut state spending, one of the orders said.

Haitham also ordered 371 million Omani rials ($964 million) of unspecified development projects to be carried out across the country.

Rated non-investment grade by all major credit agencies, Oman's debt climbed to around 60% of gross domestic product at the end of 2019 from less than 5% five years earlier.

On Wednesday it raised $2 billion in its first international bond sale since July 2019.

($1=0.3850 Omani rials)

(Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, John Stonestreet, William Maclean) ((maher.chmaytelli@thomsonreuters.com;))

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