Oman repays $2.9bln in loans in Q1 - finance ministry

DUBAI - Oman repaid 1.1 billion rials ($2.86 billion) in loans in the first quarter, finance ministry figures show, bringing total public debt at the end of March to 16.6 billion rials.

Total debt was 17.7 billion rials at the end of 2022.

Oman, among the weaker economies of the Gulf region, repaid the debt through increased government revenue on the back of higher oil prices, the fiscal performance bulletin said.

Net oil revenue reached 1.15 billion rials at the end of February, up from 1.09 billion rials in the same period a year ago, as oil prices averaged $86 per barrel in the period over $81 per barrel at the end of February 2022.

Increased production combined with higher oil prices led to a budget surplus of 372 million rials at the end of February, up from 210 million rials in the prior year period, while total revenue jumped 12% and spending was 4% higher.

Oil and gas revenue represented almost 80% of total public revenue, the finance ministry said, making Oman more vulnerable to global swings in oil prices.

Earlier this month, Oman agreed to a voluntary oil output cut of 40,000 barrels per day starting from May until the end of 2023, along with other OPEC+ member states, pushing oil prices higher.

Oman launched a medium term fiscal plan in 2020 to reduce public debt, diversify sources of revenue, and spur economic growth.

It recorded a fiscal surplus in 2022 of 1.146 rials as higher oil prices boosted revenue.

Ratings agency S&P revised Oman's outlook to positive, from stable, earlier this month, saying the government was repairing its balance sheet and had reduced gross debt to 40% of GDP in 2022, from around 60% in 2021.

It expects GDP growth to average 2.5% per year between 2023-2026.

($1 = 0.3850 Omani rials)




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