Minister of Finance and National Economy Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf, addressing the eleventh annual meeting of the Saudi Economic Society at King Saud University yesterday, praised the government's efforts to maintain a suitable investment atmosphere, and affirmed that the Saudi financial policy, focusing as it does on ensuring financial balance through increased revenue and rationalization of expenditure, has resulted in a decrease in the budget deficit from 11 percent during the fiscal year 1993 to under 3 percent in 1996, a year in which economic growth registered 8.6 percent. Minister Al-Assaf added: "There are indications that a promising year ahead awaits us."
Minister Al-Assaf went on to report that the Saudi monetary policy has stabilized the level of prices and the exchange rate of the Saudi riyal, contributing to enhancing the financial position of the national banks, which play a balanced role between preservation of savings and meeting the financial requirements of the economy. He attributed the strength of the Saudi banks to the generous support extended to them by the State, and to the supervision undertaken by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency as well as the shareholders themselves. Minister Al-Assaf also praised the decision to establish a "closed fund" that enables foreigners to invest in the Saudi stock market, the existence of which serves the interests of the State's plans to turn certain government establishments over to the private sector.