Oman approves coronavirus mitigation measures

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Updated 20 March 2020

Oman approves coronavirus mitigation measures

  • Oman cracks down on street vendors over coronavirus concerns

DUBAI: Oman has approved a set of measures to cope with the impact of coronavirus and a sharp decline in global oil prices, including ensuring all government functionalities adhered to the prescribed 5 percent cut in their budgets.

The decision was approved by Oman’s Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council, chaired by Darwish bin Ismaeel Al-Balushi, minister for financial affairs and deputy Chairman of the Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council, a report from state news agency Oman News Agency reported.

“As part of its keenness to undertake precautionary measures to alleviate the negative impacts of CVID19 pandemic, the Council approved the following procedures:

“Stressing the necessity of adherence of ministries and government civil, military and security units to the prescribed budget cuts of 5% in the budgets of the respective ministries and units.

“Conducting full revision of general spending articles (allocations) with a view to achieving further cutting down of expenditure budgets.

“Revising subsidy and expenditure provisions (allocations) of the Government’s capital, operational and administrative companies, including financial regulations and human resources.”

The council also set aside funds to ensure food supply and reserves as well as to implement measures against the spread of coronavirus.

The policy body likewise boosted the lending portfolio of Al Raffd Fund increase the number of loans offered to small and medium enterprises in the Sultanate.

“The Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council will continue to monitor and assess the impact of international economic developments on the Sultanate and it will undertake further precautionary measures to limit those impacts and to control fiscal deficit,” the policy body said.

Meanwhile, the Sultanate’s authorities on Friday raided street vendors in Muscat for violating health precautions, daily Times of Oman reported.

The vendors breached health regulations and requirements against the spread of COVID-19, the Muscat Municipality said in a statement.

Oman has reported 48 cases of the new coronavirus.


Iraq’s foreign minister makes first visit to Iran

Updated 26 September 2020

Iraq’s foreign minister makes first visit to Iran

  • Iran sees neighboring Iraq as a possible route to bypass US sanctions that President Donald Trump re-imposed in 2018

TEHRAN: Iraq’s foreign minister arrived Saturday in Tehran for bilateral talks with senior Iranian officials, according to the state-run news agency.
IRNA reported that Fuad Hussein planned to meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani, in what marked his first visit to the Iranian capital.
Zarif visited Baghdad in mid-July, when he met with Hussein and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. It was Zarif’s first visit to Iraq since a US airstrike in January killed a top Iranian general, Qassim Soleimani, outside Baghdad’s international airport. The strike catapulted Iraq to the brink of a US-Iran proxy war that could have destabilized the Middle East.
After Zarif’s trip, the Iraqi premier visited Iran in July.
The report did not elaborate on the main reasons behind the top Iraqi diplomat’s two-day trip to Tehran.
Iran sees neighboring Iraq as a possible route to bypass US sanctions that President Donald Trump re-imposed in 2018 after pulling the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
Last year, Iran’s exports to Iraq amounted to nearly $9 billion, the official IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday. It said the two nations will discuss increasing the amount to $20 billion.
Before the current global pandemic, some 5 million Iranian pilgrims annually brought in nearly $5 billion visiting Iraq’s Shiite holy sites.
Iran has seen the worst outbreak in the region, with more than 443,000 thousand confirmed cases and at least 25,300 deaths.
A news website affiliated with Iranian state TV, yjc.ir, reported that Iran canceled all its flights to Iraqi cities until the religious holiday of Arbaeen, due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The holiday marks the end of the forty days of mourning that follow annually on the death anniversary of the seventh-century Muslim leader Hussein, who was killed at the Battle of Karbala during the tumultuous first century of Islam’s history.
Iran fought an eight-year war with Iraq that killed nearly 1 million people on both sides, after former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded in the early 1980s.