As Oman tightens its fiscal belt, people brace for challenging 2016

Business Sunday 03/January/2016 22:17 PM
By: Times News Service
As Oman tightens its fiscal belt, people brace for challenging 2016

Read also: Where Oman plans to spend its state budget in 2016?
Nationals and expatriates say they are bracing for a challenging 2016 as the Sultanate tightens its belt.
Abu Zaid, an Omani, said that rising prices couldn't come at a worse time and he may struggle.
“I travel from Al Hail to Ruwi twice a day so it forces me to refill my car every two days or so. My job also requires me to drive to certain assignments. On top of that I have to pay two car installments for the next four years and am obligated to give my younger sibling and parent a monthly allowance, since I'm the breadwinner,” Abu Zaid said while
He said he hoped the government will take care of their people and refrain from issuing laws that don't make sense and negatively affect the economy, like the two-year visa ban for expats for instance.
Faisal Miran Al Zadjali, a student at one of the colleges in Muscat, said that his friends coming from outside of Muscat in cars will be affected a lot by upcoming changes in fuel prices.
Abduallah Al Busaidi, a private sector employee, believes that ordinary people will unsurprisingly bear the brunt of subsidy reforms as manufacturers will pass on the increase in production and transportation costs to end-users.
“However, as an Omani, I believe that people in Oman cannot expect to enjoy the same privileges that they were enjoying when the oil prices were much higher. Of course, nobody will be happy to pay more for fuel or other goods and services but if you put yourself in the government’s shoes, you will realise that such decisions are inevitable,” Al Busaidi said.
Maryam Al Shamsi, who works for a private IT company, believes that generous welfare benefits have led to some Omanis wasting energy resources over the past many years.
“So new fuel prices will hopefully lead to better energy conservation in the country and help reduce the number of cars on the streets and therefore the traffic. It will also encourage people to use more fuel-efficient cars,” she said.
Ahmed Al Harthy, a former government employee, says that the new measures will definitely affect the ordinary people, especially lower income families.
“However, we should accept the realities and support the government,” he said, adding that the government should also be transparent and launch awareness campaigns to gain people’s support.
Rafeeq Ameen, an Indian, said that deregulation of petrol prices will sure shoot up inflation.
“Transportation cost will go up and this will upset the family budget. In addition to this, the deregulation of oil product prices will shoot up inflation. When ministries are going to cut the expenditures, it will affect projects and eventually lead to less job opportunities. Increase in salary will become a dream. Middleclass families will be the most affected ones. We will have to tighten the belt,” Rafeeq added.
“I feel that initially, construction sector may be hit first and slowly it may expand to other sectors too. As other gulf countries are also having same situation there is no other option than returning to home country. Moreover, present condition in Oman is also not allowing to switch over jobs,” Rafeeq said while adding that this will also create ripples in home countries too.
Amit, an Indian expatriate in Muscat, said that the impact of the planned measures will become clear only when the new fuel prices and the cost of other services like registration and renewal of vehicles and driving licence are announced.
“However, all in all, the new measures will lead to a rise in the cost of living in Oman, especially for expatriates,” he said.
“As a result, I think more expatriates will decide to leave the country as they will not find working in Oman as financially rewarding as it used to be. Obviously, living here will get more difficult for me and my family if I have to spend more and get fewer benefits from the company that I work for,” Amit said.
Azra Aleem, a Pakistani expatriate, said that her family budget will be hit badly if inflation goes up due to removal of regulation on oil based product prices.
“We have only one single income, salary of my husband. We don’t have any other income. It will be quite difficult to meet all demands. Doubtful of continuing here,” Azra added.
Sujatha Radhakrishnan, a homemaker in Muscat, said that she is worried of expected price hike of grocery items.
“Have cut down on vegetables. May go for fish frequently as it may be cheaper,” Sujatha added