Oman’s Majlis Al Shura accused of a lack of urgency for austerity

A hearing of proposals from an economic reform committee was delayed last Thursday when the council broke mid session



Tawfiq Al Lawati, the man tasked with leading a special committee to address Oman’s economic crisis, has cited a lack of urgency from the country’s Majlis Al Shura assembly for his resignation last week.

Times of Oman reports that the committee’s recommendations were delayed last Thursday when the council broke mid session and deferred the hearing until November at the earliest, the next calendar year for parliament.

“Deferring the meeting of a supposedly urgent committee to the next parliament session was not giving enough urgency to the crisis and that is why I decided to step down,” he told the publication.

During the discussion the committee was forced to stop in the middle of the seventh of 12 recommendations.

This proposed that water and electricity subsidies were cut for all businesses but suggested they should not be lifted for Omanis in residential buildings.

Al Lawati also recommended that financial support be offered to families with an income of less than OMR 600 ($1,558) a month, according to Times of Oman.

Six of the committee’s recommendations were approved by Majlis Al Shura before the session was stopped.

The next meeting will be held in November 2016 or could be postponed until June 2017.

Al Lawati told the publication the committee was started in March with a specific mandate to deliver its recommendations by June.

“This is a very sensitive and important issue to the society. It can’t be delayed and take any more time to come up with actions or suggestion,” he said, arguing the delay showed the issue was not being taken seriously.

“Since the members decided to extend the time of the committee, my decision was to step down and let other people come up with new ideas. Maybe we will have better suggestions and solutions,” he added, according to the publication.

Oman is expected to post an OMR 3.3bn ($8.6bn) budget deficit this year due to lower oil revenues.

The country has unveiled subsidy cuts, reduced benefits for public sector workers and increased fees and taxes to make up for the shortfall, following an OMR 4.5bn ($14bn) deficit last year.

Read: Oman to raise up to $650m from corporate tax increase