A fall in the state deficit in the first half of 2018 points to a determination by the authorities to get the public finances under control. Oman’s state budget deficit fell by almost half in the first five months of 2018 as higher oil prices boosted export revenues sharply and a corporate tax hike brought in new revenues. The government’s deficit in January to May shrank to OMR1.11bn ($2.86bn) from OMR2.04bn a year earlier, according to the National Center for Statistics and Information. Implemen- tation of the increase in corporate income tax and planned introduction of VAT and excise duties should underpin a continued improvement in the fiscal position. However, Oman has delayed VAT until 2019. The government also recorded a rise in receipts from the sale of assets to OMR75.4m from OMR 6.8m a year earlier. The government did not say which assets had been sold but Oman has indi- cated it is looking at privatising parts of the state-owned energy infrastructure network. The news will offset the impact of recent credit rating downgrades. In March 2018 Moody’s downgraded the long-term and senior unsecured bond ratings of Oman to Baa3 from Baa2. The outlook remained negative. The ratings agency forecast that over the next five years Oman’s fiscal deficit would remain large, around 5%-7% of GDP. In November 2017 Standard & Poor’s ratings agency cut the sultanate’s long -term borrowing rating to BB from BB+, putting it one notch further into junk territory.