RIYADH (Rahnuma): Saudi Arabia is committed to working with other nations toward achieving global economic prosperity, Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said in his keynote address at the opening of the 14th edition of the Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference here on Wednesday.
Al-Jadaan also said that the Kingdom’s upcoming presidency of the G20 next year will “consolidate the Kingdom’s international standing and affirm its leadership in supporting the stability of the global economy.”
He added: “Under Saudi Vision 2030 and the Financial Sector Development Program, Saudi Arabia is keeping pace with global developments and achieving qualitative leaps in the field of financial services, in line with business and service development. The growth of talented and active youth, as well as an increase in women’s participation in the labor market, are also important elements toward achieving our goals.”
The minister also welcomed Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), insisting that the Kingdom’s financial sector is “committed to introducing further reforms in order to expand financial services and implement legislation and measures to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.”
“Our progress in these areas recently led to the Kingdom’s inclusion in the FATF, taking its place alongside 37 other countries, and it was the first Arab country to (do so),” he added.
Al-Jadaan went on to explain that government spending on economic and social development has increased over the past year.
“The total expenditure growth, in both the operational and capital sectors, reached nearly 16.1 percent in 2018, while the increase in the first half of 2019 reached about 6.3 percent. At the same time, non-oil revenues increased during 2018 by approximately 15.2 percent and the increase continued during the first half of the year by 14.4 percent as a result of the improvement of economic activity and continued implementation of reforms and initiatives aimed at developing revenues and diversifying their sources,” he said.
The budget deficit during the first half of the year amounted to SR5.7 billion ($1.52 billion), compared to SR41.7 billion in the same period in 2018, while the real GDP growth rate in Q1, 2019 was 1.7 percent, compared to 1.4 percent in Q1, 2018, he said. The Kingdom’s non-oil sector grew by 2.1 percent, driven by the private sector’s growth of 2.3 percent, compared to 1.7 percent in the same quarter last year, while FDI inflows increased by 23.8 percent in the first quarter of the current year with increased investment opportunities for the private sector.
The total credit facilities provided by banks and financing companies to SMEs in the first half of 2019 amounted to SR113 billion — an increase of 11.6 percent against the corresponding period last year.