Reforms ‘key to easing Oman debt’

S&P last month cut its outlook on Oman to negative from stable, saying the country’s fiscal and external buffers will continue to erode in the absence of substantial fiscal measures to curtail the government deficit. (AFP)
Updated 01 May 2019

Reforms ‘key to easing Oman debt’

  • Oman’s state coffers have been hit by a slump in oil prices over the past few years and the country has increasingly relied on external borrowing
  • S&P Global Ratings estimates Oman’s debt to have increased to 49 percent of GDP in 2018 from less than 5 percent in 2014, and it expects it will rise to about 64 percent by 2022

ABU DHABI: Oman needs fiscal consolidation and better public expenditure alongside implementing reforms to mitigate its growing debt, the regional head of the World Bank said on Wednesday.
Oman’s state coffers have been hit by a slump in oil prices over the past few years and the country has increasingly relied on external borrowing to levels that have created concerns among investors and pushed its credit rating into junk status.
S&P Global Ratings estimates Oman’s debt to have increased to 49 percent of GDP in 2018 from less than 5 percent in 2014, and it expects it will rise to about 64 percent by 2022.
“There is concern about the growing debt,” Issam Abousleiman, the World Bank’s regional director for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, said.
“Debt has grown very fast, this is one area (to which) they need to pay special attention.
“Fiscal consolidation and improving public expenditure will be key ... these two are important and broader reforms will be highly beneficial,” he said.
Higher oil and gas prices in recent months have helped Oman and if the country presses ahead with its economic diversification and reforms, its position should improve, he said.
Oman’s economy will see growth slowing to 1.2 percent in 2019 as the sultanate’s commitment to the December 2018 OPEC+ output cut constrains oil production, a report released by the World Bank on Wednesday said.
S&P last month cut its outlook on Oman to negative from stable, saying the country’s fiscal and external buffers will continue to erode in the absence of substantial fiscal measures to curtail the government deficit.
For 2019, the oil producer has projected a budget deficit of 2.8 billion Omani rials ($7.3 billion) or 9 percent of gross domestic product, assuming an average oil price of $58 per barrel.
Growth in the GCC in 2019 is projected to be similar to 2018 at 2.1 percent before accelerating to 3.2 percent in 2020 and stabilizing at 2.7 percent in 2021, the report said.
Saudi Arabia, the largest Gulf economy, is expected to see growth moderating to 1.7 percent in 2019 as higher government spending offsets the impact of oil production cuts implemented in the first half of 2019.
The Kingdom can reduce its fiscal deficit through efficient expenditure management, Abousleiman said.
Saudi Arabia has forecast a fiscal deficit of 4.2 percent of GDP for 2019, down from an estimated 4.6 percent of GDP in 2018.


Key to success is passion: PepsiCo official

“I always think success is married with passion,” Simon Lowden said, adding that he likes to get involved with ideas that excite him
Updated 14 November 2019

Key to success is passion: PepsiCo official

  • Lowden was speaking at a session titled “100 years is a long time: Preparing for multiple shifts.”

RIYADH: The key to success is being passionate about what you do, Simon Lowden, chief sustainability officer at PepsiCo, told a brainstorming session at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday.

“I always think success is married with passion,” he said, adding that he likes to get involved with ideas that excite him.

“I started my life in a small farming village, went to London to attend university, joined PepsiCo … and now I run our sustainability agenda,” he said. “This made me rich as a person, and I did things I really enjoyed.”

Lowden was speaking at a session titled “100 years is a long time: Preparing for multiple shifts.”

Other panelists included Dave Brooke, vice president of client solutions at Dell Technologies; Kevin Gaskell, an international speaker on leadership and business performance; Deloitte CEO David Sproul; and Nancy Yammout, general director of the NGO Rescue Me. The session was moderated by Lebanese journalist and politician Naufal Daou.