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Consumers will pay more for electricity from February

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Muscat: Consumers will pay more for electricity from February 1, and the sliding scale of ‘fees’ will be based on consumption, officials have revealed.

Muscat Municipality will levy the new fee based upon the amount of electricity consumed per month, according to Muscat Municipality Decree No (1/2018), which was issued by Mohsin bin Mohammed Al Sheikh, chairman of Muscat Municipality, last week.

In a statement, officials revealed: “If the electricity bill is below OMR25, the consumer pays 0.5 per cent fees to the municipality. Between OMR25 to OMR50 the consumer pays one per cent fees and if the electricity bill reached over OMR50 then the two per cent fees will be added and paid to the Municipality.”

The February electricity bill from the distribution company will include the new rates.

Other than the new fees on electricity consumption, several other hikes were also included in the Royal Decree.

The municipality will now tax international hotels and restaurants, along with tourist and entertainment centres.

Operators of entertainment centres, halls, games, cinemas, theatres, concerts, and museums will pay a 10 per cent fees on original ticket prices.

Hotels, hotel apartments, furnished apartments, youth hostels, camp grounds, recreation parks, car parks, trailers, restaurants, international cafes and restaurants, which are rated as first class by the municipality, will now pay five per cent fees on the prices charged. The fees are expected to affect both residential and commercial consumers in the Sultanate.

“I am not sure what the taxes are for, but for residential homes where bills are around OMR25, the overall prices shouldn’t be very high. If this is for some development work, then it is a good move,” Mehran Ahmed, an Omani resident, said.

“It is not a big deal. I think it is a part of the larger initiative by the government to bring in new taxes to increase revenues,” Ahmed Al Balushi, an Omani national, added.

“I think it is a good initiative, as this doesn’t really affect anyone adversely and still serves the government’s purpose,” he added.

However, T Bhaskaran, convener of the Malayalam Wing of the Indian Social Club, was concerned how this tax would further raise the cost of living for residents in Oman, many of whom are already feeling the pinch, due to prevailing economic conditions in the country.

“If this is a step by the government, then we have to respect it, because it would appear that this step is being taken to reduce the budget deficit in Oman,” he noted.

Economic conditions

“I think, however, that this will negatively affect the people in Oman, because of the prevailing economic conditions. Business is a bit dull at the moment, and there are problems of cash-flow for people, so this will only add to their expenses.

“It’s not really the common man who will bear the brunt of this, but big businesses, because they will be consuming a lot of electricity and will need to pay more for this. This will then increase the cost of other goods and foodstuffs in supermarkets, and this, in turn, will hit the consumer,” pointed out Bhaskaran. “At the moment, I have no other advice to really give the residents in Oman, because this development is new to all of us, and we need to wait and watch to see how this will impact people.”

Amr Ahmed Salah, 30: I think it’s too much pressure on us as we are still trying to cope with the petrol prices.