Saudi Arabia will continue to show strong economic growth this year despite the fall in oil prices, said Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf on Sunday. He attributed his prediction to the huge government expenditures on major infrastructure projects across the country.
Addressing a press conference attended by editors in chief of Saudi newspapers on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, Al-Assaf said that any decrease in oil prices would affect the fiscal income. However, he pointed out that the Kingdom has the tools and potentials to deal with such a decrease. He said Saudi Arabia has been able to build huge reserves over the past years as a result of its fiscal policy and by reducing public debt to nearly zero.
Responding to a question from Arab News, Al-Assaf denied plans to establish an international organization to regulate global energy markets.
“There is no move to create such an organization, but there’s keenness to strengthen cooperation between energy exporting and importing countries,” said the Saudi minister.
“The current trend is toward raising the level of cooperation in the energy sector and designing an action plan to raise energy efficiency,” he pointed out.
Al-Assaf said the global economic situation was not at its best. “The global economic growth is expected at 2.1 percent because of the slow growth in Europe,” he said explaining that the Saudi growth rate could exceed 4 percent.
Speaking about the summit resolutions, he said there was an agreement to spend $2 trillion during the next five years to achieve 2.1 percent growth during that period.
“Australia has proposed an initiative to invest in the infrastructure, and there’s an infrastructure center in Australia but it’s not expected to be a permanent one,” he added. Saudi Arabia has donated $4 million to strengthen the center.
Al-Assaf said G20 members have shown keen interest in the Saudi energy initiative for the poor. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah launched the initiative during an OPEC summit in 2008 to help poor countries, especially in Africa, obtain adequate energy supplies.
Al-Assaf pointed out that the issue of corruption and tracking the stolen money has drawn the attention of G20 leaders. Haj Minister and Acting Minister of Culture and Information Bandar Hajjar and Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency Fahd Al-Mubarak attended the press conference.
(Source: Arab News)