Report: Oman relies too heavily on oil wealth

Oman's banking system relies too heavily on oil wealth and is overly exposed to the construction and real estate sectors, a report has claimed

Gulf News

Oman's banking system relies too heavily on oil wealth and is overly exposed to the construction and real estate sectors, a report has claimed.

Moody's Investor Services also said yesterday that while the country continued to rely on revenue from the oil and hydrocarbon sectors, banks would continue to suffer the effects of volatile global markets.

"A key structural weakness is Omani banks' limited geographic diversification and high dependence on the domestic economy, which in turn relies on the volatile oil sector," the report stated.

"Despite the government's long-term plans to diversify the economy, the hydrocarbon sector will continue to dominate the Omani economy over the medium term, leaving banks' earnings susceptible to volatility."

At the same time, Moody's noted that credit risks remain high, due largely to exposure of banks to the construction and real-estate sector, which, it said, is showing signs of distress.

Moody's retained its stable outlook for the sector, pointing to an expected expansion in the country's GDP of 2.9 per cent in 2011.

It also noted that Omani banks had solid capitalization, stable funding and high liquidity buffers as well as low levels of non-performing loans.

Elena Panayiotou, Moody's analyst and author of the report, was also positive about the efforts of the government to diversify the economy.

"We forecast that Oman's real GDP will likely to expand by 2.9 per cent in 2011, fuelled by high oil prices and increased oil production, whilst accelerated public spending will also stimulate economic growth outside the oil sector," she said.

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