Oman's Budget Records Surplus of Almost $1Bn

Oman's state budget recorded a surplus of $928 million at the end of the first quarter of 2022. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Oman's state budget recorded a surplus of $928 million at the end of the first quarter of 2022. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
TT

Oman's Budget Records Surplus of Almost $1Bn

Oman's state budget recorded a surplus of $928 million at the end of the first quarter of 2022. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Oman's state budget recorded a surplus of $928 million at the end of the first quarter of 2022. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Oman's state budget recorded a surplus of $928 million at the end of the first quarter of 2022.

The Finance Ministry announced the surplus would be used to accelerate economic recovery, enhance development expenditure, and reduce the risks of the country's public debt portfolio.

As of the end-first quarter of 2022, public revenue amounted to OMR3.025 billion, up by 66.3 percent compared to the same quarter in 2021, according to the monthly bulletin of the Ministry of Finance.

The monthly bulletin issued by the Ministry of Finance indicated that, until the end of the first quarter of 2022, the state's public revenues increased by 66.3 percent, to a record $8.45 billion compared to $4.3 billion revenues collected in the same period in 2021.

The ministry said net oil revenue was $4 billion at the end of the first quarter, up by 70.2 percent from the same period a year earlier.

The increased oil revenues were driven by a hike in average oil prices, which rose to $78 a barrel, as well as increased oil production at the rate of 1.025 million barrels a day, compared to the average oil price of $45 a barrel for the same period in 2021.

The data showed that Oman also recorded a more than doubling of gas revenue in the first quarter.

Gas revenues rose 124.4 percent, compared to the same period in 2021, due to the rise in gas prices and production increases.

Current revenues increased by 23.7 percent, compared to the same period in 2021, due to the inflows from the value-added tax, excise tax, and improved collection of government revenues.

Total public spending until the end of the first quarter of 2022 amounted to about $6.7 billion, recording a 3.8 percent increase over actual expenditures for the same period in 2021.

The development expenditure of civil ministries and allied organizations rose 130.8 percent during the first quarter of 2022 to reach $390 million, compared to the same period in 2021. This amount represents 13.6 percent of the development budget of $2.86 billion allocated in 2022.

Contributions and other expenses accounted for another $465 million, including $130 million for public debt service.

By the end of the first quarter of 2022, the Ministry of Finance paid the private sector $380 million, reflecting the payment vouchers received through the e-financial system, those that have completed the documentary cycle.



Biden Administration Proposes Rules to Curb Investments in China's AI, Tech Sector

TT

Biden Administration Proposes Rules to Curb Investments in China's AI, Tech Sector

The United States Treasury Department has fleshed out a proposed rule that would restrict and monitor US investments in China for artificial intelligence, computer chips and quantum computing.

The fleshed-out draft rule, issued on Friday, stems from President Joe Biden’s August executive order regarding the access that “countries of concern” have to US dollars to fund advanced technologies that could enhance those nations’ military, intelligence, surveillance and cyber-capabilities. The order identified China, Hong Kong and Macau as countries of concern, according to the Associated Press.

The Biden administration has sought to stymie the development of technologies by China, the world’s second largest economy, that could give it a military edge or enable it to dominate emerging sectors such as electric vehicles (EVs).

In addition to the proposed rule, Biden, a Democrat, has also placed a stiff tariff on Chinese EVs, an issue with political implications as Biden and his Republican presidential opponent Donald Trump are both trying to show voters who can best stand up to China, a geopolitical rival and major trading partner.

According to the Financial Times, the regulation — which could be amended following a six-week public comment period — is aimed at restricting the flow of US technology, capital and expertise to groups in China that work with the People's Liberation Army.

The newspaper said it is the latest US effort to make it harder for Chinese groups deemed to be a security threat to gain access to new technology and will complement several sweeping export control packages introduced over the past two years.

Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Investment Security Paul Rosen said, “This proposed rule advances our national security by preventing the many benefits certain US investments provide—beyond just capital—from supporting the development of sensitive technologies in countries that may use them to threaten our national security.”

The regulation would introduce outright bans on certain investments and require American individuals and organizations to notify the government of other transactions, FT said.

It also includes possible exceptions, including for investments in publicly traded securities or funds. The new rule would affect everything from equity investments to debt financing that is convertible to equity. It would also apply to greenfield investments and joint ventures. But it would exempt investments by limited partners (LP) — endowments and pension funds that seed venture capital and private equity groups — below a certain threshold.

According to FT, the Treasury said the regulation would prevent the exploitation of US investment by countries “seeking to develop sensitive technologies or products that are critical to the next generation of military, intelligence, surveillance, or cyber-enabled capabilities” that pose a threat to the US. But it singled out China as a “country of concern.”

J. Philip Ludvigson, a partner at King & Spalding and a former Treasury official for Investment Security, said “companies and investors are now getting a much better look at what will be expected of them” under the new outbound investment program.

“These added details are particularly important because the private sector will be shouldering the many due diligence and compliance burdens associated with making new investments,” he said.

The Biden administration has been criticized — mostly by Republican lawmakers — for not proposing to ban investment in publicly traded securities.

FT said the effort to screen outbound investment is one of a number of issues that have stoked tensions between the US and China.

In the six months since Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping met in San Francisco, the two countries have stepped up high-level engagement to try to stabilize relations.

But senior US officials from Treasury secretary Janet Yellen to national security adviser Jake Sullivan have been clear with Beijing that Washington will continue to introduce measures to reduce what they view as security threats from China.