Moody’s cut Oman’s credit rating to junk, saying its outlook for the rating was negative and citing fiscal challenges in an environment of moderate oil prices.
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Both Fitch and S&P have also cut Oman’s rating to junk over the past two years.
“The market needs to see some signs from Oman to give it confidence that it’s going to tackle the large fiscal deficit,” said Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.
“We believe that Oman will still be able to access international debt over our outlook period, though access could be impeded in the medium term if reforms to narrow its twin deficits are not implemented,” she added.
Malik said recent reported comments by an Omani official that privatisation will help partly support funding requirements this year sounded “optimistic,” and the country will likely have to tap the debt market.
Moody’s downgraded the long-term issuer and senior unsecured bond ratings of Oman to Ba1 from Baa3, it said in a statement late on Tuesday.
Baa3 is Moody’s lowest investment-grade rating.
“The key driver of the downgrade is Moody’s expectation that the scope for fiscal consolidation will remain more significantly constrained by the government’s economic and social stability objectives than it had previously assessed,” the rating agency said.
Moody’s said Oman could face external vulnerability as wide fiscal deficits will contribute to wide current account deficits, perpetuating Oman’s dependence on steady inflows of external financing.
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