Low-paid workers in Oman are calling for an increase in the minimum wage to help cope with the pressure of rising costs brought on by inflation, it has been reported.

The current minimum wage is set at 225 Omani rials per month for foreign workers, with citizens awarded an extra 100 rials per month.

However a petition has now been launched for this to be increased to 450 Omani rials per month. Abdulrahim Al Saadi, the man behind the petition, is planning to file it to the elected legislative body, Majlis Al Shura, reported The National.

The petition would need to be approved by Majlis Al Shura, before going to the cabinet of ministers for final approval if it is to be implemented.

The last minimum wage increase was awarded in July 2013. However, inflation has risen significantly during the past year with the higher cost of essentials including food and fuel putting pressure on working families.

“I think it is time the government increases the minimum wage to a decent level, so we can look after our families properly,” electronics showroom employee Raeed Al Balushi told The National.

“Food prices have gone up a lot in the last three years. I don’t bring home enough money to support my children,” school bus driver Khalifa Al Naadi told the newspaper. He works as a taxi driver to earn extra money during his spare time, but said “petrol is also expensive, and I struggle to make ends meet”.

Inflation in Oman is expected to stand at 4.1 per cent this year – up from 1.1 per cent in 2016, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Central Bank of Oman’s (CBO) 2017 Financial Stability Report, published in August, referenced the IMF’s projections on inflation, noting that, following the higher average in 2017, it expected the rate to stabilise at around 3 per cent until 2020.

“The expected increase in the inflation rate is consistent with the removal of subsidies, higher expected interest rates, and the debt-financed budget deficit. These inflation rates are still in single digits and not expected to be destabilising to the macro-economy or to create any financial instability,” the CBO said in its report.

Inflation across MENA is expected to average 8 per cent in 2017.

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