DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s economy can achieve an International Monetary Fund forecast of 1.9 percent gross domestic product growth this year, the central bank governor said on Sunday.

The IMF said last month that growth in the non-oil sector was expected to accelerate as the Kingdom moved ahead with economic reforms.

Ahmed Al-Kholifey, governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), made the comments during a press conference in Riyadh.

SAMA also said its foreign reserves have been increasing this year and a large proportion of recent capital outflows had been due to foreign investment by other Saudi institutions, Reuters reported.

Ayman bin Mohammed Al-Sayari, deputy governor for investment, said the foreign reserves increased last month to $509-510 billion at the end of August from $502 billion in July.

The deputy governor said Saudi institutional investors were coming to the central bank to exchange their local currency for hard currency that would be used to invest abroad.

“A lot of the capital flows or at least a considerable portion of that ... figure was merely some other institutional investors, quasi-sovereign, who have elected to ... invest more internationally than locally,” he told the news conference.

This pattern was seen in the first two quarters of the year, he said.

Brent oil has jumped near $80 a barrel from $67 at the end of 2017, swelling Saudi Arabia’s current account surplus and shrinking its state budget deficit.

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