Oman's Bank Muscat forecasts 14-15 pct credit growth in 2013

DUBAI Sun Feb 10, 2013 3:41am EST

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DUBAI Feb 10 (Reuters) - Bank Muscat, Oman's largest lender, expects its credit growth to be around 14-15 percent this year, driven by high government spending and higher wages for local citizens, local media quoted its chief operating officer as saying.

Oman will again spend heavily in 2013 on job creation and infrastructure projects, as authorities aim to avoid a repeat of the scattered street protests over economic conditions and political issues which hit the country in 2011.

On Saturday, parliament approved a more than 60-percent increase in the minimum wage for Omanis in the private sector, part of the country's plan to raise living standards and push more locals into the private sector.

Both factors will help to drive lending growth for Bank Muscat, COO Ahmed Al Abri told an investor meeting at the end of last week, according to a report in the Times of Oman newspaper.

"The opportunities identified by the bank include major infrastructure development projects and government focus on economic diversification and tourism development," he added.

The bank reported 16.2 percent growth in lending in 2012, which helped boost annual net profit by 18.5 percent over the previous year.

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