Oman’s economy is ‘over the worst’, says leading economist

View of coastline of Muttrah district of Muscat during sunset, Oman. (Shutterstock)
Updated 17 January 2018
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Oman’s economy is ‘over the worst’, says leading economist

DUBAI: Oman’s economy is set to receive a ‘much-needed’ boost from additional revenue due to the rise in prices of oil barrels, according to the country’s investment fund chief economist, Fabio Scacciavillani.
“The most difficult phase for the economy is coming to an end,” Scacciavillani told the Times of Oman.
OPEC agreed to a production cut late last year which allowed the prices to rise, prompting Oman’s crude oil cost to rise above $67 — a three-year high for the gulf nation.
“The prices of oil show that the most difficult phase for the economy is coming to an end. If prices remain at $65- $70 levels, the flow of resources in the public coffers will be strong and help the overall economy,” according to the chief economist.
This spike is expected to lessen the deficit as oil prices account for 71 percent of the country’s income. Oman’s recent budget set 2018 oil prices at an estimated $50, 25 percent below the current cost.
“I don’t see any reason why oil prices would decline now. The fundamentals are strong, and as global supply dips and demand increases, there is a synchronized rebound in the oil market. This is expected to stay,” Scacciavillani said.
Confident traders as well as strong global economic growth have driven up demand for oil, sustaining prices at above $60.
“The worst is over. The economy is in an upbeat mode. Brent has broken the psychological barrier of $70 and it doesn’t look like prices will go lower any time soon. I expect prices of oil to remain around $70-$75 at least for the next couple of months,” Mubeen Khan, a Muscat based CA and financial analyst, told the English-language daily.


‘There is no free lunch’, Macron tells tech giant CEOs

Updated 54 min 47 sec ago
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‘There is no free lunch’, Macron tells tech giant CEOs

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron told executives from the world’s biggest technology firms on Wednesday that he wanted innovation to be a driving force for the French economy, but also that they needed to contribute more to society.
The French leader paints himself as a champion of France’s plugged-in youth and wants to transform France into a “startup nation” that draws higher investments into technology and artificial intelligence. He is also spearheading efforts in Europe to have digital companies pay more tax at source.
Macron’s guest-list included Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, IBM’s Virginia Rometty, Intel Corp’s Brian Krzanich, Microsoft Corp’s Satya Nadella and a raft of other big hitters in the corporate world.
“There is no free lunch,” he quipped in English to the executives lined up on the steps of the Elysee Palace for a photo call at a lunch meeting. “So I want from you some commitments.”
As Macron spoke, IBM announced it would hire about 1,400 people in France over the next two years in the fields of blockchain and cloud computing.
Ride-hailing app Uber also said it planned to offer all its European drivers an upgraded version of the health insurance it already provides in France in a drive to attract independent workers and fend off criticism over their treatment.
Macron will hold one-on-one talks with Mark Zuckerberg on tax and data privacy on the sidelines of the Tech For Good summit — a day after the Facebook chief executive faced questions from European Union lawmakers.
Those talks will be frank, an Elysee official said ahead of the meeting. While Macron will be pitching France Inc, he will also push his case for a European Union tax on digital turnover and a tougher fight against both data piracy and fake news.
Zuckerberg on Tuesday sailed through a grilling from EU lawmakers about the social network’s data policies, apologizing to leaders of the European Parliament for a massive data leak but dodging numerous questions.
Macron told the executives that business needed to do more in tackling issues such as inequality and climate change.
“It is not possible just to have free riding on one side, when you make a good business,” the French president said.