Oman plans to boost budget spending by 10 pct in 2013 - source
MUSCAT, Sept 27
MUSCAT, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Oman plans to boost its 2013 budget spending by 10 percent compared to this year's plan to fund new infrastructure projects, an official source familiar with the government's financial planning said on Thursday.
"A 10 percent hike in spending will take care of our growth to fund development projects such as airports, ports, roads, hospitals and in the energy sector," said the source, who declined to be identified.
The 2013 budget plan would be based on an oil price of $85 per barrel and assume a deficit of about the same size as the shortfall originally projected for this year, he said.
Oman approved expenditure of 10 billion rials ($26 billion) for 2012 with a deficit forecast at 1.2 billion rials, based on an assumed oil price of $75 per barrel.
But high oil prices, currently above $110 per barrel , are now expected to help Oman run a comfortable surplus this year. Analysts polled by Reuters this week forecast the small non-OPEC oil exporter would show a budget surplus of 8.1 percent of its economic output in 2012.
The sultanate's budget surplus rose to 2 billion rials in January-July, data showed earlier this month. The country, which depends on crude oil for 77 percent of the budget income, sold its oil for $113 per barrel on average in that period.
The International Monetary Fund forecast in December that Oman's budget break-even oil price would be $81 per barrel this year. But that level is expected to rise to $105 by 2016, according to the IMF.
The Gulf Arab country, which faces a pressing challenge to create tens of thousands of jobs every year for its fast-growing population, boosted spending last year following public protests demanding more jobs and an end to corruption.
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