RIYADH: Decelerating food prices drove Oman’s inflation levels to a 10-month low of 1.1 percent in April, according to the country’s National Center of Statistics and Information.
The 19-month low of food inflation — which stood at 2.7 percent in April as opposed to 4.1 percent in March — was mainly attributed to lower vegetable prices.
The statistics authority stated change in food costs came following a 1.6 percent annual hike recorded in March.
Oman also saw prices rise at a softer pace for housing, utilities, furnishings, household equipment and routine maintenance in April, standing at 3.5 percent compared to 3.8 percent in March.
Additionally, prices grew at a lower rate for recreation and culture, reaching 2 percent in April as opposed to 2.3 percent in the previous month.
Similarly, price levels associated with restaurants and hotels rose to 3.7 percent in April, down from 3.8 percent in the month prior.
By contrast, price growth for education was steady at 0.1 percent.
Meanwhile, prices associated with transport declined by 0.2 percent after rising by 0.3 percent in the previous month, while the levels accelerated for health.
Consumer prices rose by 0.1 percent in April, despite a 0.3 percent drop recorded in the previous month.
This slowdown aligns with the trend across the Middle East and North Africa region.
Earlier in May, the International Monetary Fund said economies across the Middle East and Central Asia would likely slow this year as persistently high inflation and rising interest rates bite into their post-pandemic gains, according to the Associated Press.
The IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook blamed, in part, rising energy costs and elevated food prices for the estimated slower growth.
The report said that while oil-dependent economies of the Gulf Arab states and others in the region have reaped the benefits of elevated crude prices, other countries — such as Pakistan — have seen growth collapse after unprecedented flooding last summer or as economic woes worsened.
“This year we’re seeing inflation again being the most challenging issue for most of the countries,” Jihad Azour, the director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the IMF, told AP, adding: “For those who have a high level of debt, the challenge of increase in interest rate globally, as well as also the tightening of monetary policy, is affecting them.”
The IMF forecasts regional growth will drop from 5.3 percent last year to 3.1 percent this year.
Overall, regional inflation is expected to be 14.8 percent, unchanged from last year, as Russia’s war on Ukraine continues to pressure global food supplies and affect energy markets.