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Announcement:

Moody's: Sharjah's economy is slowing and deficit is rising, but debt remains moderate

30 Nov 2016

New York, November 30, 2016 -- Sharjah's (A3 stable) economy has slowed, with nominal GDP growth expected to remain around 4% into 2017 compared to 6% on average in 2010-2015, says Moody's Investors Service. The economic slowdown pressures fiscal metrics, but Sharjah's debt burden and debt affordability are still low and compare well with peers.

The recent rise in debt reflected capital expenditure and fiscal loosening to address economic slowdown on the back of lower oil prices. Sharjah's debt increased with the issuance of a $500 million sukuk in January 2016 and a previous sukuk issuance of $750 million in September 2014.

"Sharjah has diversified its sources of funding. Debt denominated in US dollars accounts for roughly half of Sharjah's outstanding debt. International investors held 62% of the government's debt and the share will likely increase after taking into account the 2016 issuance," says Mathias Angonin, an Analyst at Moody's.

Moody's report, entitled "Government of Sharjah -- A3 stable: Annual Credit Analysis," is available on www.moodys.com. Moody's subscribers can access this report via the link provided at the end of this press release. The rating agency's presentation does not constitute a rating action.

Moody's assessment incorporates the preliminary results of the 2015-16 Census, which points to a large upward revision in population figures, to 1.41 million from 0.86 million as of end-2015. This revision underlines the shortcomings in data transparency that are captured in our assessment of Sharjah's institutional strength, and leads to a lower estimate of Sharjah's GDP per capita PPP, to $31,000 from $49,100.

Moody's says inflation volatility is slightly lower for Sharjah than for the UAE because of the smaller reliance on volatile foreign capital flows and more extensive foreign ownership controls. Similar to the UAE, inflation in Sharjah has been subdued since mid-2015 and has fallen steeply since the start of 2016, increasing by only 0.2% year-on-year in August 2016. This reflects a favourable base effect from the fuel price hikes that took effect in August 2015 and pressure on food and fuel prices from lower commodity prices, as well as the cooling real estate market in the country.

Three developments underway could bring more predictability to Sharjah's fiscal policies. First, the government is devising a medium-term fiscal strategy, which along with similar initiatives in other emirates aims to enhance fiscal coordination in the UAE. Second, the proceeds of a planned value-added tax to be introduced in 2018/19 will be shared by the UAE federal government and individual emirates. Although that share has not yet been set, Moody's considers that a VAT will increase the stability of Sharjah's government revenue. Third, the Sharjah government is integrating decentralised departments. After the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in 2015, Sharjah plans to consolidate the accounts of the Sharjah municipality in 2017, while the Awqaf department will be integrated at a later stage.

The Local Market analyst for this rating is Mathias Angonin, 00 971 4 237 9536.

Subscribers can access the report via this link:

https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1049928

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more information, please call one of our global press information hotlines: New York +1-212-553-0376, London +44-20-7772-5456, Tokyo +813-5408-4110, Hong Kong +852-3758-1350, Sydney +61-2-9270-8141, Mexico City 001-888-779-5833, São Paulo 0800-891-2518, or Buenos Aires 0800-666-3506. You can also email us at mediarelations@moodys.com or visit our web site at www.moodys.com.

This publication does not announce a credit rating action. For any credit ratings referenced in this publication, please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the most updated credit rating action information and rating history.

Ernest Sergenti
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Sovereign Risk Group
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Yves Lemay
MD - Sovereign Risk
Sovereign Risk Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Mathias Angonin
Analyst
Sovereign Risk Group
Telephone: 00971 4237 9536

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

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