Public expenditure touches RO94b: Macki
The Sultanate's total public expenditure touched RO94 billion during the last four decades, since the beginning of the Renaissance, said Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki, minister of national economy and deputy chairman of Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council, yesterday.
Speaking on the occasion of the 40th National Day, the minister said that the state investment was mainly for developing basic infrastructure facilities like roads and power and education, healthcare and water.
Referring to the tremendous growth in basic infrastructure facilities, Macki said that the total length of paved roads by the end of 2009 touched 25,926km from as low as 15km in 1970. Similarly, power generation increased to 18,405 GW/hr in 2009 enabling the provision of electricity to almost all parts of the Sultanate.
The potable water production also grew reaching 39,657 million gallons/day. During the Seventh Five-Year Plan, the production size and extension of main and sub-networks in the various Sultanate regions increased.
It is anticipated that the rate of production capacity of the desalination plants will total 143 million gallons by the end of this year.
Also, distribution networks were added at the different regions with lengths exceeding 1,500km together with establishment of 81 new tanker filling stations to benefit from desalinised water and reduce use of underground water.
Growth of education
On the overall growth of education field, he said that the total government expenditure for education during 1976-2009 period amounted to RO10.3 billion.
The total number of students in the general education stage reached 531,393 in 2009 compared to about 900 in 1970. Female student ratio in total students constituted 49 per cent in this stage. Also, the number of general education schools increased to 1,040 in 2009 from merely three schools in 1970. Number of teachers reached 44,506 compared to 3,000 in 1970.
In the field of healthcare, the Sultanate was able to lay the foundation for a healthcare network that included all citizens living in different parts of the country. This is in accordance with a clear scientific and regulatory vision that considered areas of population agglomerations and observe the closeness of these service centres to citizens.
It ranges from health centres and clinics to polyclinics to hospitals and referral hospitals.
The government's special focus on healthcare sector resulted in marked improvement of healthcare indicators that was praised by international organisations, including World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unicef. According to 2009 statistics, the number of government hospitals reached 55, beds 5,430, health centres 151. Of this, 72 health centres have beds, polyclinics 21, doctors 4,332, nurses 10,838 and dentists 255.
In 1970, there were only two government hospitals, 13 doctors, 12 health centres and clinic and the number of beds was 12.
The development in healthcare services led to the improvement of most healthcare indicators. The Sultanate was able to eradicate infectious diseases, malaria and diarrhea among children less than five years. Also, measles incidences declined and spread of non-communicable and chronic diseases and their complications were limited. This resulted in raising life expectancy at birth to 72.5 years compared to 49.3 in 1970.
Infant mortality rate declined to 9.6 per thousand births compared to 118 in 1970, and mortality rate of children less than five years to 21.5 per thousand births compared with 181 in 1970.
Macki also noted that the government of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said sought to provide a decent housing facility for citizens through the programmes of social housing, housing aids and easy-term loans. "The number of households benefited from these programmes during the previous five-year plans touched 25,698 at total cost of RO405.4 million." He also said that foreign direct investments (FDI) totaled about RO5,029 million in 2009, indicating a growth of 15.3 per cent from that of 2008. As for foreign investment, new amendments were introduced in the laws related to foreign investments specifically in relation to securing foreign ownership up to 100 per cent and reducing tax rate from 30 per cent to 12 per cent, which makes the Sultanate as one with the lowest tax rate in the region.
Agriculture and fisheries
The agriculture and fisheries sectors achieved tangible development during the forty years, thanks to the efforts of the government to raise production and productivity through establishing extension farms, agriculture and fisheries research centres and distribution of improved seeds and fertilizers to farmers.
Macki also said that creating employment opportunities for unemployed youths is a priority for the government. The government provides 71,477 work opportunities annually in government and private sector establishments or through Sanad and Kasseb programmes.
Jobs to Omanis
The total number of Omani citizens employed in the government touched 136,600 at the end of 2009. The number employed in private sector establishments who are registered at the Public Authority for Social Insurance reached 158,315 by the end of 2009. In addition, there are a large number of self-employed citizens working in sectors of agriculture, trade, fisheries and other not registered in the social insurance system.
Omanisation ratio in government sector reached about 87 per cent. Also, the government will continue in expanding the training and qualification programmes particularly training linked to employment to those nominated to take private sector jobs and raise the Omanisation ratio.
Under the prudent leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Sultanate was able to achieve significant developments in the various areas. The country's economy was transformed from a traditional economy to a modern developing one where Omani citizen enjoys political and economical stability and good living standard.
As a result, the Sultanate took a prominent and advanced place worldwide. The international institutions reports praised the achievements of the Sultanate in the economical and social fields.
In the UN Human Resources Report, the Sultanate ranked 56 among 186 countries and classified within the countries with medium human development and high growth. Also, it ranked 15 among 57 countries in the 2009 World Competitiveness Report of the Institute of Administrative Development advancing 16 ranks from that of 2004.
This was due to the strong economic performance, increasing government's efficiency and ability of the Sultanate to create an economy based on completion and attraction of foreign investments. Moody's in its report regarding credit worthiness rose the Sultanate from A2 to A1 for government bonds in both local and foreign currencies, and the sovereign rating of banks deposits in foreign currency from A2 to A1.
Likewise, in the World Competitiveness Report issued by the World Economic Forum in September 2010, the Sultanate is ranked third amongst Arab countries and 29th worldwide amongst 125 countries. The classification takes in account a number of important indicators related to overall economic performance such as facilitation of investment's procedures and related legislations, customs and administrative procedures at customs outlets, non-tariff restrictions, freedom and procedures of export and import, availability of infrastructure and the business environment in general.Published on Wednesday 3rd of November 2010 09:45:05 AM Oman Time