Muscat: Remittances sent by workers in Oman to their home countries in 2020 fell to the lowest amount recorded since 2013, statistics released by the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) show.
Workers remitted OMR 3.373bn to their friends and families in 2020, reveals the 2020 Annual Report released by CBO. The last time the figures were lower than this amount was in 2012, when a total amount of OMR3.109bn was sent home.
Remittance figures were on a rise after 2012, climbing to OMR3.501bn in 2013, OMR3.961bn in 2014, and OMR4.226bn in 2015, before dipping to OMR3.965bn in 2016 and OMR3.774bn in 2017. Remittances rose slightly in 2018 to reach OMR3.829bn, before falling to OMR3.512bn in 2019.
“The external sector showed deterioration during 2020 with a spike in the current account deficit (CAD),” read the report. “Merchandise exports contracted sharply during 2020 primarily due to a decline in oil prices, even as re-exports surged during the year.
Merchandise imports also declined during the year but at a slower pace than exports, leading to a notable reduction in trade surplus.
“The services account deficit saw an improvement during the year reflecting lower demand for imported services like travel,” added CBO.
“The current transfers consisting mainly of workers remittance, however, declined amidst stagnant wages and falling expatriate population, providing some cushion to external sector management.”
“The current transfers (workers’ remittances) decreased by four percent in 2020 as against a decline of 8.3 percent in the previous year,” added the report.
“The pandemic has significant implications on employment conditions in Oman. The expatriate population declined amidst uncertainty caused by the pandemic.”
The expatriate population in Oman fell from 1.942 million people in January 2020, to 1.745 million in January 2021, a decrease of nearly 200,000 people.
The expatriate population fell further in 2021, falling to 1.634 million people in October of last year, before gradually rising once again to reach 1.724 million on 1 January, 2022, according to data from the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).
In this context, Tahir Salim Abdullah Al Amri, the executive president of CBO, added that while vaccination drives around the world have raised hopes of returning to normalcy, the recent surge in infections in some parts of the world, and continued mutations of the coronavirus made for uncertain economic predictions of the near future.
“While the Omani economy is also facing these uncertainties, the implementation of the vaccination programme has strengthened the conditions for a rebound in economic activities,” he explained in the annual report.
“Going forward, continued focus on fiscal consolidation and a further improvement in the business environment will encourage more investment and support economic activities. The CBO would continue to play its due role in supporting growth and stability in the Sultanate during these exceptional times.”
He added: “Oman managed the pandemic effectively as reflected by the high recovery and low fatality rates. With continued efforts and firm determination, I firmly believe that the Sultanate will emerge even stronger out of the pandemic.”