January 1, 2018 / 1:49 PM / 6 months ago

Oman 2018 state budget boosts spending, keeps deficit flat

DUBAI, Jan 1 (Reuters) - Oman’s state budget for 2018, approved by ruler Sultan Qaboos on Monday, boosts spending at the expense of running a large deficit, despite increasing concern among credit rating agencies about the health of the country’s finances.

The budget projects spending of 12.5 billion rials ($32.5 billion) this year, up from 11.7 billion rials in the original budget for 2017, local media quoted a Finance Ministry statement as saying.

Revenues are projected at 9.5 billion rials, up from 8.7 billion rials in the 2017 budget. That leaves a planned deficit of 3 billion riyals this year, the same as last year’s projected deficit.

The 2018 budget assumes an average oil price of $50 per barrel, up from an assumption of $45 for 2017. The Brent oil price is now above $65, so Oman’s revenues are likely to be significantly higher than expected if oil prices stay flat. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Alison Williams)

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