I feel that any move to phase out energy subsidies carries in itself a host of merits and demerits.
Country’s exchequer would not be strained as fuels are not given at a subsidised price. This would help the country to focus on development activities. Secondly, this proposal helps to curb some of the unhealthy practices which our neighbours tend to commit.
For example truck drivers from the neighbouring countries come to Oman to fill up fuel, as they are getting the same at a reduced price.
Further, people will also be cautious about their spending habits and they will not squander this country’s natural resources.
Enough caution must be exercised to implement this decision, as the ordinary house hold would be forced to shell out more from their pockets.
Adequate training must be provided to both Omanis and expatriates on re-calibrating their habits. I strongly opine that our authorities must carry out this decision in a gradual and phased manner.
The 2014 budget of the Sultanate of Oman reflects an anticipated government expenditure and revenue of OMR13.5 billion and OMR11.7 billion respectively,thus leaving an anticipated deficit of OMR1.8 billion for 2014.
The provision for the subsidies and exemptions in the proposed budget constitute OMR1.6 billion, which mainly include subsidies for the interest on housing loans, electricity, water, fuel and some basic food items.
I had read in The Times Of Oman couple of months back, that the fuel subsidy in Oman is estimated to be around OMR860 million which is equivalent to around 50 per cent of the current budget deficit thus phasing out the fuel subsidy will certainly help a lot in controlling the deficit.
But in my humble opinion the government has to wait for an appropriate time for phasing out the fuel subsidy and that to in a gradual manner, to avoid any kind of resentment among the people of Oman who have been ranked 23rd in the world and 2nd in the Gulf region, in the world happiness report 2013.
The people of Oman may be left to enjoy their happiness ranking for the time being.