23 March 2009 MUSCAT
The Sultanate is best poised among all Arab Gulf nations to face the challenges of the current economic crisis that has led to a worldwide slowdown, according to the latest report issued by London-based Economist Intelligence Unit.
In EIU's ranking of 165 countries in terms of being secure against social unrest emanating from the current economic crisis, Norway came first (165), Denmark second (164), Canada third (163), Sweden fourth (162), the United Kingdom 132nd and the United States 109th, Oman News Agency reported yesterday. The Sultanate (149) came first among the AGCC states with 3.9 points. It was followed by UAE and Qatar (142) with 4.1 points, Kuwait (98), Saudi Arabia (82) and Egypt (105). (Here '0' point indicates no risk and '10' is the highest degree of risk.)
The report titled 'Manning the Barricades' warned against grave social unrest from the global recession in the coming two years. It pointed out that 95 countries are in the high-to- very high risk categories. It may be recalled here that Standard & Poor's Ratings Services recently affirmed its 'A' long-term and 'A-1' short-term sovereign credit ratings on Oman, signifying a "stable" outlook of the Sultanate's economy. "The ratings on Oman are supported by the government's strong fiscal position, together with the country's solid external finances and increasing wealth levels," said S&P's credit analyst Luc Marchand. Moody's too assigned Oman with an A2 investment grade rating with a stable outlook despite the collapse in international oil prices since July 2008 and much tougher economic prospects for 2009.
The ratings agency said that was because economic and financial risks are mitigated by the strong international investment position and the relative soundness of the country's banks, which seem to have had little direct exposure to the global financial crisis. Moreover, the government's extensive offshore financial assets will enable it to provide fiscal stimulus and fund projected deficits without resorting to debt accumulation, at least over the short to medium term.
© Times of Oman 2009