Oman booked a budget surplus of 768 million rials ($2 billion) in the first two months of 2012 as robust oil prices boosted revenue, finance ministry data showed on Sunday.
The surplus is equivalent to about 2.7 percent of the sultanate’s 2011 nominal gross domestic product, according to Reuters calculations. The country posted a surplus of 467 million rials in January.
Analysts polled by Reuters in March expected the non-Opec oil producer to post a fiscal surplus of 5.0 percent of GDP in 2012 thanks to high crude prices, up from 3.5 percent last year.
Oman has raised its budget by 23 percent to 10 billion rials this year compared to its original projection for 2011. The 2012 plan includes almost 96 percent of last year’s actual expenditure, which was boosted by extra spending following protests demanding more jobs and an end to corruption.
The sultanate’s budget income jumped by nearly 31 percent to 1.9 billion rials in January-February compared to the same period last year. It already accounts for 21 percent of the initial full-year projection, the data showed.
Net oil revenues surged 43 percent to 1.5 billion rials.
Oman sold its oil at an average price of $109.1 per barrel in January-March, up from $88.4 in the first three months of 2011, the oil and gas ministry’s data show.
Government spending increased 8 percent to 1.1 billion rials in January-February, accounting for 11 percent of the full-year plan.
The ministry initially set 2011 spending at 8.1 billion rials. But social unrest prompted Sultan Qaboos bin Said to pledge an extra $2.6 billion of spending in April 2011.
Oman, which obtained pledges in March 2011 for $10 billion in aid over 10 years from its wealthier Gulf neighbours, forecast a budget deficit of 1.2 billion rials for 2012, or 4.3 percent of GDP, based on a projected oil price of $75 per barrel.
The International Monetary Fund projected in December that Oman’s budget break-even oil price, the minimum price which it needs to balance its budget, would rise to $105 by 2016 from $81 per barrel in 2012.