Oman economy to grow at six per cent this year

DUBAI: Oman’s minister of finance forecast yesterday GDP in real terms for this year at 6.1 per cent, and inflation at 3.5pc.

Ahmad Mekki, who is also the minister of national economy, said that Oman’s total debt as of the end of last year stood at 722 million Omani riyals ($1.88 billion), with domestic debt accounting for 252m riyals of the total figure.

“In 2010, we see a 6.1pc GPD growth in real term due to expected higher revenues as a result of a bigger oil production,” Mekki said.

He reiterated previous comments that there were no plans to ditch Oman’s currency peg to the dollar or to join the GCC monetary union at any point in the future. Earlier, Mekki said he expected the country’s economy to grow by a sluggish 1-2pc last year after it was hit by lower oil prices in the second quarter.

Mekki did not clarify whether he was referring to a change in nominal or real gross domestic product.

The global economic crisis slashed income for Gulf oil producing nations, sending the region’s key economies into downturn last year.

Non-Opec Oman was less affected than fellow oil exporters in the region because it did not have to join oil output cuts required by the group.

Mekki said that last year’s figures were yet to be finalised.

A senior ministry official said in October that the sultanate’s economy will grow by 2.5pc last year in nominal terms due to better performance from its non-oil sectors.

The International Monetary Fund sees GDP growth of 4.1pc this year, well below 7.8pc in 2008. Oman, which exited plans for a Gulf monetary union more than three years ago, will not budge on its decision, Mekki said.

“Oman has no plans to review joining the GCC monetary union now or in the future,” he said.

The sultanate was the first to exit the plan, followed by the UAE, which quit in May last year, dealing a serious blow to the union.