FITCH ПОДТВЕРДИЛО РЕЙТИНГИ РЕСПУБЛИКИ КАЗАХСТАН, ПРОГНОЗ "СТАБИЛЬНЫЙ"
/Fitch Ratings, Лондон, 06.09.19, перевод и заголовок KASE/ – Fitch Ratings
подтвердило долгосрочный рейтинг дефолта эмитента ("РДЭ") Республики
Казахстан в иностранной валюте на уровне "BBB" со "Стабильным" прогнозом.
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Fitch Ratings has affirmed Kazakhstan's Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer
Default Rating (IDR) at 'BBB' with a Stable Outlook.
KEY RATING DRIVERS
Kazakhstan's 'BBB' IDRs balance strong public and external balance sheets,
underpinned by large government savings and a substantial sovereign net
foreign asset position, against high commodity dependence, a weak banking
sector, and lower World Bank governance indicators and GDP per capita than
the 'BBB' median and higher inflation than peers.
We expect broad policy continuity following the recent leadership change, which
was Kazakhstan's first since independence. The leadership transition was
brought about by former President Nazarbayev's resignation in March. The
transition was orderly and followed prescribed institutional steps, without
threatening social and political stability. The new president, Kassym-Jomart
Tokayev, won a landslide victory in the snap presidential elections in June.
In the meantime, Fitch expects that Nazarbayev, as chairman of the Security
Council and president of the ruling Nur Otan party, will retain considerable
influence. We expect Tokayev to pursue Nazarbayev's previous economic policy
priorities, including structural reforms and more recently, increasing social
Fitch expects the general government budget to record a small surplus of 0.3%
of GDP in 2019 from 2.6% in 2018 (versus a 1.9% deficit for the current 'BBB'
median) and to turn into a deficit in 2020-2021 reflecting lower forecast oil
prices and a more expansionary fiscal stance in line with the government's
policy priorities. Expenditure will rise by 1.4pp of GDP in 2019, reflecting an
increase in minimum and public sector wages and in social benefits, cut in
personal income tax and adoption of a debt relief programme for low income
borrowers. President Tokayev has announced additional social measures, tax
exemption and salary increase in his state of the nation address, while
planning to cut the number of civil servants.
Kazakhstan gross general government debt compares favourably with peers at a
forecast 19.1% of GDP in 2019, versus 39.4% for the current 'BBB' median. The
sovereign is also a net creditor, due to large fiscal buffers in the form of
government deposits accounting for 3.4% of GDP at end-2018, which provides
the sovereign with substantial fiscal financing flexibility.
Fitch views Kazakhstan's policy framework as weaker than similarly rated peers,
as reflected by regular revisions to the budget targets and deviation from the
fiscal rules adopted in 2016. The revised national budget for 2019-2021 and
latest macro framework for 2020-2022 provide for a widening of the non-oil
fiscal deficit to 7.4% of GDP (versus a target of 5.8% in the initial
framework). Transfers from the National Fund of the Republic of Kazakhstan
(NFRK) to the budget will be increased to KZT3.07 trillion in 2019 (+18% from
2018) and to KZT2.7 trilion over 2020-2021, compared with a planned cut to KZT2
trillion by 2020, stipulated in the 2016 fiscal rules.
Transmission of monetary policy remains hampered by the shallowness of the
domestic market, high level of dollarisation and involvement of the National
Bank of Kazakhstan (NBK) in quasi-fiscal operations, such as subsidised lending
within the "7-20-25" mortgage programme and partial funding of the government
debt relief programme for low income borrowers. The agreement signed between
the government and the NBK in March reiterates NBK's policy priorities of
lowering inflation and preserving financial stability, but amends the reduction
of the inflation target rate to 3%-5% in 2022 from close to 4% by 2020
previously, and provides for liquidity support to the banking sector by the NBK
to foster financing of government economic projects and consumer credit.
Monthly inflation rose to 5.5% yoy in August due to a pick-up in food prices,
reflecting a weaker tenge. Price pressures are increasing, due to hikes in wages
and social benefits and growth in consumer credit supported by government
programmes (14.6% yoy at end-April 2019) Inflation is projected at 5.7% in 2019,
above the current 'BBB' median of 2.7%, although still within the NBK's target
range of 4%-6%. We expect inflation to moderate to 5% in 2020 and 4.4% in
2021, supported by disinflation in Russia, which should result in lower import
prices. The central bank kept interest rates stable in June and July in view of
rising inflation risks, after a 25bp cut in April.
The banking sector remains weak, with dollarization at 44% of deposits and 18%
of loans at end-July 2019 and non-performing loans (NPLs) at 9.5% of total loans
at end-August 2019 as per national standards. IFRS 9 disclosures suggest the
amount of NPLs could be at least twice higher and the asset quality review for
medium and large banks to be completed by end-2019 by the NBK might reveal
the need for additional bank support or fresh capital injections. Further state
support to the banking sector could be needed, after the government spent 4% of
GDP in bank recapitalisation in 2017, although we do not believe it would
materially affect the sovereign balance sheet. President Tokayev recently
dismissed any new bank bail-out of privately-owned Kazakh banks, but we
believe off-government balance sheet transactions (e.g. through problem asset
transfers to the state-owned Problem Loan Fund) could be used again.
Kazakhstan's sovereign external balance sheet remains a key rating strength
with sovereign net foreign assets at 45% of GDP at end-2018, versus 2.6% for
the 'BBB' median. We expect NFRK assets to reach USD63billion (33.3% of
GDP) by 2021, from a forecast USD58.5billion (35.3% of GDP) in 2019.
International reserves decreased to USD27billion in 1Q19 (USD31billion at end-
2018), following debt repayment by quasi-sovereign companies and FX sales by
the NBK to stabilise the tenge following resignation of the former president,
but will recover to USD32.2billion (13.1 months of current account payments)
Fitch expects the current account deficit to widen slightly to 0.5% of GDP in
2019 from zero in 2018 (1.4% for the current 'BBB' median) due to a rise in
consumer and investment-related imports, boosted by strong domestic demand, and
subdued commodity exports. The deficit will widen further, to an average 0.8% of
GDP in 2020-2021 as lower forecast oil prices weigh on export receipts and large
investment in the energy and mining sectors put pressure on imports. However, a
smaller trade surplus will partly be offset by a narrowing deficit on the
primary income account as lower commodity prices lead to a smaller pay out.
The economy grew at 4.1% in 1H19, supported by solid growth in the
manufacturing, construction and service sectors. We expect growth to reach
3.8% in 2019, compared with a five-year average of 2.9% and a current 'BBB'
median of 3.3%, boosted by robust domestic demand, fostered by government
social measures and infrastructure projects in the construction, housing and
transportation sectors. Net exports contribution to growth will be lower in 2019
as oil production is dampened by maintenance work in the country major oil
field and OPEC limits. Fitch forecasts a moderate acceleration in growth to
3.9% and 4% in 2020 and 2021, helped by the planned expansion of the Tengiz oil
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