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Reform momentum of Oman’s new ruler faces headwind of COVID-19 reality

Reform momentum of Oman’s new ruler faces headwind of COVID-19 reality

By Davide Barbuscia, Aziz El Yaakoubi and Lisa Barrington



a person wearing a hat: FILE PHOTO: Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said gives a speech after being sworn in, in Muscat


© Reuters/STRINGER
FILE PHOTO: Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said gives a speech after being sworn in, in Muscat

DUBAI (Reuters) – Oman’s ruler has moved to overhaul the Gulf Arab state’s creaking finances since taking power this year but the coronavirus crisis is likely to delay deeper reforms needed to shore up the economy at a time of low oil prices.

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Oman piled up debt at breakneck speed in the past few years, while plans to diversify the small oil producer’s economy and introduce sensitive tax and subsidies reform dragged under Sultan Qaboos who died in January after half a century in power.

New ruler Sultan Haitham has shaken up the government and state entities, and this week approved introducing value-added-tax in April in a sign to investors – ahead of an international bond sale – that he is open to reforms in a country that saw Arab Spring-like protests in 2011.

“This government has to take the tough decisions,” World Bank Gulf country director Issam Abousleiman said.

“If they don’t do anything over the next 3-4 years, and if the situation stays the same on the revenues and expenditures side, they will be forced to do it all at once, risking social backlash,” he said.

The 2011 protests over unemployment, corruption and political reform subsided after Qaboos sacked the government, created thousands of jobs and gave money to the unemployed.

Haitham cannot afford such largesse, and COVID-19 may limit his scope to diversify the oil-dependent economy and put it on a sustainable financial path, analysts and economists said.

A drop in revenue due to lower oil prices has prompted Oman to reduce spending, with major cuts in the first half of the year including investment expenditure.

The hydrocarbon

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Serie A Faces Financial Reckoning As Coronavirus Pushes Transfer Market Spending Back To 2016 Level

Serie A Faces Financial Reckoning As Coronavirus Pushes Transfer Market Spending Back To 2016 Level

 

The transfer market summer window that closed on October 5 will be a remarkable one for Serie A – Italy’s top-flight soccer league.

For the first time since the SARS-COV-2 outbreak that paralyzed European soccer for over three months, Italy’s most beloved sport was finally able to assess the financial damage brought by the Coronavirus pandemic.

And despite Serie A welcomed stars of the like of former Barcelona midfielder Arthur Melo, SSC Napoli striker Victor Osimhen and former Manchester United Chris Smalling – the financial reality beneath the surface is quite scary.

 

And unfortunately, Italian soccer is not alone in this crisis.

The general spending on transfer fees in European soccer decreased significantly for the first time in three years, falling back to the 2016 level, a study released by FIFA has found.

The Transfer Market Snapshot June-October 2020 analyzed the latest player transfer market activity, giving an overview of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on soccer finance.

The study shows that in 2020, Small Medium Enterprises soccer clubs accounted for a total of $3,92 billion in outgoing transfer fees, representing a steep drop of more than 30% in comparison to 2019, when clubs spent a total of $5,8 billion.

To find a similar figure we need to look back to 2016 when the money spent on international summer transfers reached $3,7 billion, while for the same period in 2017, 2018 and 2019 clubs invested over $5 billion each year.

The latest transfer window saw a

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