Economic Policies in Oman Cause Rare Protest

Rulers in Oman decided to lift the controls on prices on a number of products, which has a led to a social media outcry by residents.

In Oman, users of social media are protesting a decision made by the government that removes the price protection for close to 70 products. The protesters said this would deepen a wealth divide in the Gulf Sultanate that is already very severe.

Two hashtags have provoked over 10,000 tweets over the past two days, with a social media monitor from the government describing the tweet action as being exceptional.

The Council of Ministers from Oman decided on June 15 to lift the price controls of dozens of different products, with 23 different staple items remaining under the Public Authority for Consumer Protection auspices.

The decision received political criticism as well, with one representative from the country’s Shura Council saying to a news site from Oman that the lifting of the price protection had been done because of the traders and not done with the consumer in mind.

Dr. Ali Bin Masoud al-Suaidy, the Minister of Industry and Commerce in Oman said the decision to eliminate the price controls had been taken to stay in line with free market economic principles and inside the framework of the nation’s hope of joining the worldwide World Trade Organization.

Many users of social media in Oman, a country where over 20% of the people use Twitter, have expressed their anger of the price controls being lifted suggesting the decision will increase corruption and poverty.

The economy in Oman was the reason in 2011 that public protests rocked the country, which is ruled by Sultan Qaboos, who is 73.

Unemployment amongst the youth is nearly 25%, and last year during February, authorities increased the country’s minimum wage by almost 60% to $844 a month, as an attempt to prevent more protests.

Nevertheless, Oman citizens face rising costs for living and with the current leaders getting closer to economic policies of free market, fears exist that small numbers of companies and individuals will control a larger amount of the economy in the country.

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