Standard & Poor, the global ratings agency, has said latest assessment of Nigeria, showed that despite the impact of the global crude oil prices on most economies, the country’s economy retained the sovereign rating at BB- with a negative watch.
In April 2014, the agency said the country’s rating stood at BB-.with a negative outlook, meaning the agency has adjusted its rating slightly by placing the country on negative watch.
It attributed its decision to the pressure of falling oil prices on the economy as well as political risk.
“Nigeria has not been downgraded, but the country clearly needs to work harder to actualize its recently announced policy response to the current economic challenges,” the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said.
The agency said other oil producing countries, like Saudi Arabia, had also been put on negative watch, while a number of others, including Kazakhstan, Bahrain and Oman were downgraded outright.
According to Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, it was important to note that in spite of the serious challenges arising from the sharp fall in oil prices, Nigeria was still doing quite well, compared to some other oil producing countries.
She said while the economies of Russia and Venezuela were projected to contract and experience negative growth this year, Nigeria’s gross domestic product, GDP, has been projected by the International Monetary Fund to grow by 4.8 per cent, which is quite robust by global standards.
The minister noted two implications of the new rating, including that the economy, despite many challenges, was retaining key strengths, while striving to work harder to turn the strengths into real value for the country and its citizens.