2002 News Story

Finance minister attests to soundness of Saudi economy

Minister of Finance and National Economy Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf, in a statement to be published tomorrow in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyasah, has attested to the soundness of the Saudi economy, refuting reports that the Kingdom is facing economic stagnation and citing recent developments including the successful operation of the Supreme Economic Council, the progress of plans to privatize, and the reduction of custom tariffs. In the past two decades, he said, efforts have been made to broaden the economic base, and private sector revenues now constitute 70 percent of the country's Gross National Product (GNP), which amounts to SR 700 billion [U.S. $ 186.92 billion]. He admitted that the State budget for this fiscal year will face a deficit, but this deficit, he said, is lower than the figure of SR 46 billion [$ 12.28 billion] that was earlier estimated. Reiterating the government's concern to train citizens and enable them to find suitable jobs, he pointed out that the Kingdom's unemployment rate is less than ten percent of the workforce.