Inflation in Oman jumps to 11.56%


Annual inflation in Oman accelerated to 11.56 per cent in March from 11.11 per cent in February, its highest level in at least 18 years, government data showed on Saturday.

The Gulf state's consumer price index hit 120.6 points at the end of March, the Ministry of National Economy said on its website. That compares with 108.10 points a year earlier and 120 points at the end of February.

First-quarter costs for food, beverage and tobacco costs – which make up almost a third of the consumer price index – surged 18.5 per cent compared to the year-earlier period, the data showed. Rents rose 12.4 per cent. The ministry did not provide year-on-year data for March. "Inflation is still in the double digits and we expected that," said Monica Malik, regional economist at Cairo-based investment bank EFG-Hermes.

"It is a situation of rent and food prices. We do not see a moderation in the coming months as food prices will depend on what happens in global prices and on dollar movements," she added. The country's money supply surged 37.8 per cent in March, the data also showed.

Oman, which pegs its rial to the US dollar, has been trying to control soaring inflation by introducing policies to offset the impact of price rises on its people.

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman ordered an increase of up to 43 per cent in state workers' wages and five per cent to 35 per cent more for state pensioners.

Like other states in the biggest oil-exporting region, Oman's economy is surging on a near six-fold rise in oil prices in the past six years. Its economy expanded to 15.51 billion rials (Dh147.8bn) last year.

Money supply

Oman's annual money supply jumped 37.8 per cent in March as inflation in the Gulf Arab oil producer soared 11.56 per cent, government data showed.

M2, the broadest measure of money circulating in the Omani economy, hit 6.714 billion rials (Dh64bn) on March 31, compared with 4.871bn rials a year earlier, the Ministry of National Economy said on its website.

Foreign assets, including gold, held by the central bank doubled in the year to March to 4.002bn rials from 2.218bn rials a year earlier.