Oman announces compromise after electricity bill hikes sparks outrage
Omani authorities and energy companies attempted to strike a compromise on Monday after anger over high electricity bills.
The Authority for Public Services Regulation (APSR) said in a special press conference that it would "re-orient" subsidies for "entitled segments", after households saw electricity prices skyrocket this year.
It comes after the government earlier this year lifted subsidies for utilities, which haven't risen since 1987, according to Bloomberg.
The higher bills sparked 5,000 complaints from consumers, the APSR said in the press conference.
The body said that tariffs would be adjusted to allow some consumers to get 4,000 kilowatts per hour of electricity at a rate of 12 baisas (0.o3 cents), up from 2,000 kw/h.
Electricity bills for May and June would also be re-calculated according to the new rates.
There have been widespread frustrations in Oman over the high bills, with memes and social media comments making light of the higher living costs, after years of utilities' subsidies.
This turned then anger in the summer when electricity companies cut power to households running arrears. Summer often sees temperatures well into the 40s and air-conditioning becomes a necessity.
The APSR on Friday ordered this policy to be reversed and power to be restored at all homes.
After running deficits due to low oil prices and, more recently, the Covid-19 epidemic, the Omani government has looked at ways to cut high-state spending and find new revenues.
One of these has been to lift subsidies, a step that has proved unpopular with many Omanis.
The country saw rare protests in May over unemployment among Omani youth, sparking a crackdown by security.
Oman's new Sultan Haitham Tariq Al-Said announced that a new job creation programme to appease the protesters.