Oil price fall not to hit KSA economy

Updated 18 November 2014
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Oil price fall not to hit KSA economy

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.


Saudi consumers splashing the cash once more, says Mastercard boss

Updated 2 min 11 sec ago
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Saudi consumers splashing the cash once more, says Mastercard boss

  • J.K. Khalil: There are positive signals that last year’s situation is being reversed. We have seen an overall relaxation in the economy. It’s not yet back to previous levels, but there has been a positive trend reversal
  • J.K. Khalil: We are expecting the second quarter to be better than the first, and we are confident that will happen

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian consumers are increasingly spending cash — and using their credit cards online — after a period of relative parsimony, the head of one of the biggest providers of consumer payment systems told Arab News.

J.K. Khalil, the general manager of Mastercard in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, said that there has been an appreciable pickup in consumer spending in the first quarter of 2019, in contrast to the slump that followed the introduction of value-added tax last year.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Financial Sector Conference in Riyadh, Khalil said: “There are positive signals that last year’s situation is being reversed. We have seen an overall relaxation in the economy. It’s not yet back to previous levels, but there has been a positive trend reversal.”

Khalil described the upturn as a “positive single-digit increase.”

The Mastercard regional boss said that the trend would continue. “We are expecting the second quarter to be better than the first, and we are confident that will happen,” he said.

A lot of the upturn has been in the form of online transactions, he said. “We are seeing an increase not just in the physical retail space, but also online. Consumers see increasingly that cards can be used online and offline,” Khalil added.

Some 30 million debit cards are now used for e-commerce transactions in the Kingdom, Khalil said.

Mastercard’s optimistic view was echoed by several participants at the Financial Sector Conference. Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan opened the first day of the event with the surprise announcement that the Kingdom’s budget had recorded its first quarterly surplus in five years.

Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, the minister for economy and planning, said on Thursday that unemployment was down in the Kingdom, even though there were a large number of new entrants to the jobs market.

Elsewhere at the event, which closed on Thursday, there were expressions that the Kingdom had “turned the corner” from the downturn that hit after the collapse in oil prices in 2014. One operator of a major retail chain, who asked not to be identified, said that footfall in the capital’s malls was ahead of last year, and the trend was expected to continue this year.