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Bank Muscat highlights role of banking sector in infrastructure development

MUSCAT, 22 March 2014 – Bank Muscat, the flagship financial services provider in the Sultanate, highlighted the role of local banks in financing infrastructure projects at the 4th Oman Economic Forum (OEF) held under the patronage of H.E. Darwish Bin Ismail Al Balushi, Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs.

The 2-day forum was organised by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group in cooperation with the Capital Markets Authority (CMA), Muscat Securities Market (MSM), the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) and Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI).

Addressing a session on the 'Prospects of Banking and Finance Industry', AbdulRazak Ali Issa, Chief Executive, said: “The outlook for Oman's economy in 2014 is positive as the government has announced a 5 per cent increase in spending. The banking sector is poised to achieve a strong performance owing to the government's continued focus on economic diversification and infrastructure development across the Sultanate. The 2014 investment expenditure is estimated at RO 3.2 billion, which is 24 per cent of the overall public expenditure."

AbdulRazak Ali Issa added: “Looking forward, the project pipeline in the country for 2014 alone is in excess of RO 2.5 billion and well in excess of RO 9.5 billion in the next 5 years. The Oman railway project and the development of the Special Economic Zone in Duqm are only a few of the very high scale projects announced in the country. We firmly believe that the local banks would continue to lead on and play a large role in these mega projects."

In Project & Structured Finance, Bank Muscat maintains the leadership position by playing an integral part in large-scale infrastructure projects in key sectors such as oil & gas, petrochemicals, shipping, real estate, aviation, power & water. During 2013, the bank was associated with five major syndicated financing programme across various sectors as the mandated lead arranger.

Bank Muscat also focused on 'Small and Medium Enterprises: Creating Employment Opportunities & Inspiring Innovation' in a presentation by Ilham al Hamaid, AGM – SME Credit, Marketing and Regional Corporates. Aimed at expanding and strengthening avenues for SME development in Oman, Bank Muscat offers a comprehensive suite of tailor-made finance solutions.

The first-of-its-kind initiatives recently launched by al Wathbah, Bank Muscat's SME department, include a unique SME financing programme which helps entrepreneurs overcome challenges arising from the requirement of collateral guarantee for SME finance. al Wathbah SME Non-Collateral Programme, which does not require collateral guarantee, is a bold step affirming the bank's commitment to encouraging an entrepreneurial culture in Oman.