(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Oman on Thursday announced that the size of public spending approved in the State General Budget for 2014 amounts to around RO13.5 billion, tapping a growth ratio of five per cent above last year's approved spending, Oman News Agency (ONA) said.
Darwish bin Ismail Al Balushi, Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs, said that the state's total revenues for 2014 amount to RO11.7 billion, with a growth rate of 4.5 per cent compared to last year's approved revenues. Therefore, the deficit for the year 2014, calculated on the basis of an oil price of 85/barrel, is at RO1.8 billion, forming 15 per cent of revenues and six per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
At a Press conference to announce the major features of the State General Budget for 2014, the minister said that with respect to public spending components, current expenses of about RO8.7 billion represent 65 per cent of total public spending, while salaries and wages amounting to RO5 billion represent 37 per cent of total public spending.
Al Balushi added that investment expenditures amount to nearly RO3.2 billion, or 24 per cent, of the overall public expenditure are to cover spending on development projects and capital expenses for the production of oil and gas, while subsidy expenses amount to RO1.4 billion, or 10 per cent, of overall public expenditure.
He explained that oil revenues represent 83 per cent of total revenues, while non-oil revenues from the remaining 17 per cent of which almost 50 per cet is the estimated collection from taxes and fees.
The minister also talked about the approved spending for social sectors in the budget saying that the general budget 2014 includes allocations at a sum of about RO9.2 billion to meet social requirements in such field as education, health, housing, training, subsidy and other social services, compared to RO8.7 billion in last year's budget, an increase of RO465 million and a growth rate of 5.3 per cent.
He pointed out that these allocations will address the following areas: education sector, with an amount of RO2.6 billion, constituting a ratio of 18.6 per cent of the total public expenditure, internal and external training programmes with an amount of RO95 million and health sector, amounting to RO1.3 billion, or nine per cent, of the total public expenditure.
Al Balushi added that allocations of social security and welfare stood at RO133 million to cover pensions and social welfare while the housing sector, with an amount of RO2.8 billion, of which a sum of RO138 million for the human assistance programme supervised by the Ministry of Housing, which include building houses across the Sultanate's wilayats and the provision of soft housing loans, in addition to an amount of RO80 million to Oman's Housing Bank's Housing loans programme.
He explained that allocations for subsidies and exemptions stood at RO1.8 billion, which include subsidies for interests on housing and development loans, electricity, water, fuel and some basic food commodities.