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Oman Trade Unions Urge Gov’t to Revise Price Hikes

Members of Oman’s Shura Council have called for fuel prices to be fixed annually instead of monthly.Members of Oman’s Shura Council have called for fuel prices to be fixed annually instead of monthly.

Introducing fuel stamps would help people struggling to cope with fuel price hikes, trade unionists and economists say.

The General Federation of Oman Trade Unions has urged the government to look into the issue immediately and revise increases, which they say are adversely affecting low income families, Albawaba reported.

A Majlis al Shura meeting will be held on Wednesday to examine how best to lessen the financial impact on low paid workers in the country.

The council will discuss “executable solutions” made by members in relation to fuel pricing for the current month and the resulting “public discontent” as well as the “impact on segments of society”.

“We are getting complaints from workers in all sectors that the fuel price hike is affecting their lives,” said Mohammed Al Farji, a trade unionist with the General Federation of Trade Unions in Oman.

“A rough calculation reveals that almost 60% of workers are earning below OMR400 ($1,038.83) per month. Out of this, if he is an Omani, he will have to pay OMR25 to social insurance. What else is left then? It is quite hard to survive,” al Farji, added.

“We have urged the government to intensify the economic diversification plan so that it doesn’t depend on fuel revenue. Personally, I feel that introducing fuel stamps for needy people is a good option,” the trade unionist said, adding that they are waiting for a government response to their appeal.

Recently, members of Oman’s Shura Council called for fuel prices to be fixed annually instead of monthly and to help low income families afford fuel.

A special committee at the Shura Council tasked with addressing economic issues met to discuss a ceiling for fuel prices and the possibility of setting a fixed price for the year.

Mohammad Abu Baker Al Ghassani, member of the Shura Council representing Salalah, said citizens with lower incomes should also be considered when prices are increased.

Linking low pay to inflation would also ease the burden on the lowest paid workers in the sultanate, analysts say, at a time when the government is tightening its belt, removing subsidies and increasing fuel costs.

“Subsidies cannot be brought back at this time, but government can think about issuing fuel stamps for the needy after detailed study and also find a mechanism to adjust their salaries with inflation rates,” Loai B. Bataineh, chief investment officer at Ubhar Capital, said.

On Friday, Oman crude was traded at $55.91 a barrel. In October, 2016, the International Monetary Fund reported that Oman’s “break-even” price for a barrel of oil is $73. 

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