Saudi finance minister sees growth at 6.4pc

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia expects economic growth close to last year's 6.4 per cent, on the back of high oil revenues, Finance Minister Ibrahim AlAssaf said on Wednesday.


  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Fri 14 May 2004, 10:26 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:26 PM

Assaf told Reuters a wave of militant bombings and shootings had failed to dent the kingdom's robust economic expansion and said the government would use any budget surplus to reduce debt.

Asked if the attacks by supporters of Al Qaeda network had provoked capital outflows from the kingdom, he replied: "Absolutely not. It has been the other way round, we have an increase in liquidity."

Assaf added: "I expect positive growth this year... I'm optimistic it will be very close if not better than last year.

He said Riyadh would remain cautious in its economic policy despite the revenue boost from oil prices and would stick to planned expenditure of 230 billion riyals this year.

Saudi Arabia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 6.4 per cent in real terms last year - the highest level in more than a decade - as the world's biggest oil exporter enjoyed a surge in revenue from high oil production and prices.

Economists have forecast more modest growth this year but oil prices have continued to gain as consumers fret over supply levels and instability in producing countries.

Assaf said the government might increase planned spending on security to tackle attacks by militants but would otherwise devote increased revenues to reducing the kingdom's debt.

"We should obviously take into account developments that the government needs to cover, especially in the security area, but in general we need to stick to planned budget and expenditure," Assaf said.

"The priority is for reducing debt. Whatever we save will be absorbed by reduction in the stock of debt."

Economists estimate Saudi Arabia reduced its public debt by 20 billion riyals last year to around 630 billion riyals, or 80 per cent of GDP.

More news from