Oman year in review 2013
Stable growth in Oman during 2013 is expected to continue this year, supported by both an increase in oil production and the government’s fiscal policies, with the non-oil sector set to boost expansion. Under the draft 2014 budget, unveiled on January 2, GDP is forecast to rise by 5 per cent this year, roughly the same rate recorded in 2013. Significantly, much of this growth will be driven by the non-oil segment of the economy, which Darwish bin Ismaeel Ali al Balushi, the minister responsible for financial affairs, said would expand by 7.3 per cent, a step up from the 5.6 per cent of 2013. The new year will also see an increase in state spending, with expenditure set to rise by 5 per cent over the 2013 figure to $35.1 billionn. Of this, some 24 per cent is to be directed to investment projects, including new refineries, road and rail works, and tourism facilities.
The economy’s solid performance in 2013 was reflected in a decision by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) to maintain its outlook for the Sultanate as “stable” going into the new year and affirming Oman’s long- and short-term sovereign credit ratings at A/A-1. In a report issued in late December, S&P said Oman’s strong net external and general government asset positions, as well as prudent investment policies, mitigated against any risks posed by the economy’s high level of dependence on hydrocarbons. The report said the budget surplus should increase this year to 1.9 per cent of GDP from an estimated 1.6 per cent in 2013, despite increased expenditures