Riyadh – Mubasher: The Saudi Minister of Finance and Acting Minister of Economy and Planning, Mohammed Al Jadaan, said the Saudi economy is getting back and recovering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
On the sidelines of the 15th edition of the Euromoney conference that was virtually launched last Thursday, the minister noted that 2020 has been arguably the most challenging year possibly for the last 100 years whether economically, financially, or humanely.
However, the case was a little bit different in Saudi as 2019 ended with positive momentum, with the Vision 2030 yielding results, non- oil economy showing growth, and sectors that were being focused on, such as tourism, entertainment, sports, and financial technology (FinTech), recording between 3% and 8% growth.
“The Saudi economy was significantly impacted due to COVID-19. It almost went into economic hibernation. Oil markets were negatively impacted. Revenues from oil dropped significantly. You could obviously see the results when countries have announced their gross domestic product (GDP). Various countries around the world dropped by 5%, 10%, [and] 15% and some countries announced a drop of 20%," he remarked.
On the performance of the Saudi economy during the pandemic, Al Jadaan affirmed that the government quickly put together a plan to protect people’s lives. Significant resources were redirected to the healthcare system, the number of beds was almost doubled, and the number of intensive care units (ICU) beds and medical equipment was made available.
The kingdom's government provided COVID-19 healthcare services free of charge to nationals and residents alike. Further, it provided measures, initiatives, and direct liquidity to mitigate and lessen the financial and economic impact of the crisis on the private sector and paid the wages of the private sector's employees.
Moreover, it increased the debt to GDP ceiling to 50% from 30% and launched investments with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) and the Public Investment Fund (PIF). In total, the GCC nation provided SAR 218 billion in support to the private sector.
Upon reopening of economic activities, the Saudi economy showed very positive results, the minister revealed.
On privatisation, Al Jadaan spotlighted the important role of the Privatization Program, which saved SAR 15 billion of government’s expenditure. This year, a total of SAR 11 billion of revenues will be collected from privatisation deals that have been bid by the private sector.
On the Saudi presidency of G20 in 2020, Al Jadaan noted the first virtual summit meeting was held in the first quarter (Q1) with very clear mandates aimed to ensure the protection of people’s lives and livelihoods and preparing for recovery.
A very long list of demands was set by the G20 leaders and was quickly put into motion. Some of the actions have been completed while others are still in process, he concluded.