MUSCAT: H E Darwish bin Ismail bin Ali al Balushi , Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs on Wednesday said that the financial status of the sultanate is satisfactory and at good levels despite the increase in the pace of expenditure.

He affirmed that the financial condition will remain sound on the forecast range. This conclusion is based on the current financial indicators, as well as oil price indicators, especially with relation to revenues, expenditure, public assets, saving, debt and other indicators as well.

H E Balushi said that as for the sultanate’s ‘loss of some ranks in the Competitiveness Report’, the report depends on a number of indicators related to certain projects and the speed of their completion.

“Losing some ranks in the report does not mean that there is a decline in the implementation of projects but rather there is a positive growth in different sectors. We are going to study the content of the report and compare the indicators to the ones we have and once we finish we will announce the details and identify the gaps, if any. There is nothing to worry about, because our financial condition is good and the indicators we have give a positive outlook about different sectors.”

He also pointed out that the expenditure on salaries in the current budget is about 42 per cent, which should be about 39 per cent. “Everything can be revised at any time subject that it does not affect the economic condition of the state or the development programme of the sultanate.”

H E Balushi was speaking on the sidelines of ‘Investment in PEIE’ seminar.

He said that there is no problem with the investments of the State Reserve Fund in Bulgaria except for the investment at Corp Bank, which faces some problems related to organisers. The bank faces no problem with regard to its financial position or assets or ability to carry out its liabilities or its financial performance. The problem is related only to the regulatory body and the organisers in Bulgaria. He pointed out that the State Reserve Fund considers this issue, which is legal and not financial. He also pointed out that there are advisors who provide advice to the fund about this issue to reach a settlement with the government. He reaffirmed that the bank’s financial condition is sound and that it has not incurred losses.

As for the study on the new pension system and the periodic allowance in the civil sector, he added, “When the study is over and ready, it will be unveiled. The budget for this year does not include allocations for allowance. He then said that these decisions were announced by the government therefore it will provide the allocations when they are finalised. He said while the ad hoc committee has completed studying the allowances, the study is subject to certain revisions and procedures, which will be competed in the coming months of this year. The government has not delayed any approved project in the plan.

He added that the decline in oil price these days is temporary and related to the imbalance between supply and demand. He expected the oil prices to remain over US$100 per barrel. He affirmed that the government follows the price trends closely and if they take a constant downturn that will affect the short and medium term plan, the government will take necessary action.