Growing Opportunities In Oman’s Financial Sector
Galvanising monetary plan to pursue the nation’s long-term goals, the Central Bank or investment company of Oman (CBO) is considered a beacon of financial prudence and balance in an area that has seen its reasonable share of stress following the economic crisis. In conjunction with relatively low penetration levels compared to counterparts in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and a limited product offering, Oman’s bank sector radiates with opportunities.
The Sultanate’s favourable demographics – 60 percent of the population are aged between 15-45 – coupled with a pro-growth and employment backdrop augur well for the fortunes of the financial sector. 11,700 by the end of 2011, in accordance with GCC peers, purchasing power parity structured per capita income has exhibited constant growth, generating higher disposable incomes.
Recent government regulations raising minimum wages and expanding work are also supportive for intake. In the modern times, a recovery in the prices of crude oil, sustained home demand backed by public expenditure and an accommodative monetary plan pursued by the CBO have observed further growth in the united states and its banks.
Expectation that the government will continue its expansionary fiscal plan to sustain the existing momentum in development provides an optimistic outlook for the near future. Obvious risks include a significant fall in essential oil prices; however, many years of fiscal prudence have yielded adequate reserves to ensure continued pro-growth initiatives remain unhampered. The Eighth Five-Year Development Plan (2011-15) emphasises a big public investment programme. Non-oil activities are anticipated to develop by an annual rate of six percent at constant prices based on the CBO, and private sector participation through local and foreign private investment is expected to complement authorities initiatives.
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The plan also focuses on the introduction of software and tourism, satisfying the diversification impetus, as articulated in its Vision 2020 declaration. Under a set exchange rate program the CBO adopts the monetary plan of the anchor country to avoid pressures on the Omani rial. Furthermore, having less a developed secondary debt market makes banks as the chief transmitters of financial policy. Given the restrictions of its monetary framework due to its fixed peg, fiscal spending spurs activity, which influences credit offtake therefore.
Investment expenses in the hydrocarbons sector is also expected to be supportive of financial growth and credit offtake. 5.5bn of contracts were granted in the sector between 2006 and September 2012 – generally pertaining to the upstream coal and oil sector and related midstream pipeline activity. Estimates for future years dwarf previous activity.
28bn will granted between 2013 and 2015, generating development and the resultant credit offtake in the nation. Oman’s banking sector is controlled by the CBO, which is bestowed with the duty of supervising the nation’s monetary policy also. The CBO is a proactive regulatory authority, actively involved with managing sector risk through a macro and micro regulatory framework.
It is going by a seven-member board of governors, appointed by the Sultan and has a deputy chairman, who chairs regular table meetings. The banking sector locally consists of seven commercial banks, two Islamic banking institutions and 18 foreign banks. There are also two development banks: the Oman Housing Bank, which facilitates housing development; and the Oman Development Bank or investment company, which finances corporations, small and medium sized enterprises (SME) and extra projects in various sectors. Profitability among Oman’s banks has been healthy given strong interest spreads that persist between deposit and lending rates. 1bn in equity and subordinated debt issuances.
140m respectively. Consequently, Basel II regulatory capital at the final end of 2012 stood at 16 percent, that was significantly higher than the minimum amount regulatory requirement of 12 percent recommended by the CBO. Mandating the allocation of five percent of total credit to SMEs to spur entrepreneurship and wide base economic development.
Talks of consolidation in the sector have also been ubiquitous. With the top three banking institutions in Oman accounting for about 67 percent of total credit by the end of 2012, the banking sector signals further alliances, given the benefit larger banks exercise over smaller ones in pricing and level. Earlier this year, officials from the Capital Market Authority publicly encouraged consolidation in the country’s crowded financial sector and suggested limiting issuances of new bank licenses in the united states.