Oman GDP set to grow 3pc in 2021: IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the Sultanate’s GDP to grow 3 per cent next year compared to -2.8 per cent in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic adversely impacts economies globally, a report said.

According to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook, oil exporting nations in the Middle East and Central Asia are expected to see a 3.9 per cent decline in GDP growth this year, rising however to 4.6 per cent in 2021, while growth in oil-importing countries is expected to decline to -0.8 per cent this year, rising to 2.9 per cent next year.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is inflicting high and rising human costs worldwide,” the multilateral global lender said in the Executive Summary of its report.  “Protecting lives and allowing health care systems to cope have required isolation, lockdowns, and widespread closures to slow the spread of the virus. The health crisis is therefore having a severe impact on economic activity.”

As a result of the pandemic, the global economy is projected to contract sharply by –3 per cent in 2020, much worse than during the 2008–09 financial crisis, the Fund warned. In a baseline scenario, which assumes that the pandemic fades in the second half of 2020 and containment efforts can be gradually unwound, the global economy is projected to grow by 5.8 per cent in 2021 as economic activity normalizes, helped by policy support, it said.

“There is extreme uncertainty around the global growth forecast. The economic fallout depends on factors that interact in ways that are hard to predict, including the pathway of the pandemic, the intensity and efficacy of containment efforts, the extent of supply disruptions, the repercussions of the dramatic tightening in global financial market conditions, shifts in spending patterns, behavioral changes (such as people avoiding shopping malls and public transportation), confidence effects, and volatile commodity prices,” it stated.

According to the Fund, many countries face a multi-layered crisis comprising a health shock, domestic economic disruptions, plummeting external demand, capital flow reversals, and a collapse in commodity prices.

“Risks of a worse outcome predominate. Effective policies are essential to forestall worse outcomes. Necessary measures to reduce contagion and protect lives will take a short-term toll on economic activity but should also be seen as an important investment in long-term human and economic health. The immediate priority is to contain the fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak, especially by increasing health care expenditures to strengthen the capacity and resources of the health care sector while adopting measures that reduce contagion.”

Economic policies will also need to cushion the impact of the decline in activity on people, firms, and the financial system; reduce persistent scarring effects from the unavoidable severe slowdown; and ensure that the economic recovery can begin quickly once the pandemic fades, it added.

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