By staff reporter
Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services lowered its unsolicited long-and short-term foreign- and local-currency sovereign credit ratings on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to ‘A+/A-1’ from ‘AA-/A-1+’. The outlook remains negative.
In a report issued late Friday, S&P also revised its transfer and convertibility (T & C) assessment on Saudi Arabia to ‘AA-‘from ‘AA’
The action came following Saudi Arabia’s termination of its rating agreement with S&P. The ratings agency says it has decided to convert its issuer credit rating on Saudi Arabia to “unsolicited” after the rating agreement was terminated.
S&P also expects Saudi Arabia’s “general government fiscal deficit [to] increase to 16% of GDP in 2015, from 1.5% in 2014, primarily reflecting the sharp drop in oil prices.”
According to the ratings agency, hydrocarbons account for nearly 80% of Saudi Arabia’s fiscal revenues.
With the absence of rebound in oil prices, S&P forecasts “general government deficits of 10% of GDP in 2016, 8% in 2017, and 5% in 2018.” It based its expectation on planned fiscal consolidation measures.
Meanwhile, S&P’s outlook for the Saudi Kingdom “remains negative,” reflecting the challenge of reversing the marked deterioration in Saudi Arabia’s fiscal balance.
“We could lower the ratings within the next two years if the government did not achieve a sizable and sustained reduction in the general government deficit or its liquid fiscal financial assets fell below 100% of GDP,” S&P said in its report.